Two Reasons Why First Aid Kits Don’t Come with Medication

First aid emergency kit

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First Aid Kits

First Aid Kits are an amazing source and collection of First Aid supplies stored in readily accessible containers of any description. They range from small, with only ten times, to extensive, with hundreds of items, and house a range of products used generally by the average family or specifically used in workplaces that correlate with the known potential injuries and hazards. They are easily located and capable of being moved to the casualty when required. First Aid Kits are used to treat life-threatening medical emergencies or treat cuts, burns, bruises, sprains, vomiting, and diarrhea, etc., in the home or workplace.

There are numerous prepacked, mass-produced, and manufactured First Aid Kits on the market. They come in all shapes and sizes, from plastic boxes, fiberglass cases, metal boxes, cloth bags, and even fireproof and waterproof materials. Fundamentally, there is a First Aid kit on the market for every possible emergency type and vocation. If you have never taken a First Aid course or stopped to look inside a First Aid Kit, now is the best time to do both. 

First Aid Kit Content Omission Of Medication

The first question most people ask is: “Why don’t First Aid Kits come with medication already inside them?”. There are two predominant reasons for this.

Reason 1: 

First Aid Kits are typically mass-produced by a manufacturer and then sent to a supplier, where they can sit in warehouses or on shelves for years before a consumer purchases them. Medications, and even some antiseptics and antibacterial products, have a used-by date and shelf life. But what does that mean?

Pharmaceutical manufacturers produce a batch of the drug and give a used-by date. Most products in life that are perishable come with a use-by date by law. Use-by dates are a way for the public to gauge if the product is safe to use or has gone off, as with the example of a carton of milk.

Drugs are slightly different in that the vast majority of them don’t perish in the same way milk does; their active components can bra down over time and stop working altogether or work in a reduced capacity, which means the drug does not work as it was intended to work.

When drug companies put a date on medication, what it really means is that they no longer legally guarantee the product will do the specific job it is required to do. That does not mean the product magically stops working the day it hits the used-by date (there are a few exceptions, but they don’t belong in a First Aid Kit); it means that the product might only be half as powerful as it should be. You have no way of knowing that in advance, and you can’t then take four out-of-date tablets to give the strength of two in-date ones without consequences.

For this reason, First Aid Kits do not come with medications to control pain or fever as they legally cannot sell products that might be out-of-date to a customer.

Reason 2: 

Medications are not a one shoe fits all solution. Some people have adverse reactions to drugs that are potentially life-threatening or fatal if ingested. Something as seemingly harmless as two Panadol tablets or ibuprofen capsules might cause an anaphylactic reaction in someone that rapidly escalates into a life-threatening emergency greater than the original injury or reason for needing the First Aid Kit.

Different countries have different standards when it comes to the classification of their drugs. If a manufacturer in Japan includes medication approved for use in Japan, they can’t then sell it in Australia if the content does not meet the Australian Food and Drug standard criteria. For this reason, to make First Aid Kits globally accessible, medications are not included in a standard First Aid Kit.

What Are The Exceptions

Exceptions to the above two reasons come in the form of the following:

  • Alcohol wipes
  • Betadine wipes
  • Saline solution
  • Burn creams and gels

As you can see from the above list, none of these are edible, and they are all topically applied or used to irrigate, as in for wound or eyewash debridement. Even if they were used and didn’t work, there would be no adverse side effects to their usage per se. They simply wouldn’t provide the antibacterial layer required to kill germs, meaning it would be the same as using a wet tissue to clean a wound. You will clean the wound, but there is nothing to stop harmful bacteria from causing an infection that leads to cellulitis or septicaemia if not correctly treated, and treatment will require the use of antibiotics.

What Are The Basic Items in A First Aid Kit

The most basic kits contain the following:

  • 1 x triangle bandage
  • 1 x crepe or gauze bandage
  • Assorted-sized adhesive band-aids 
  • Adhesive wound-closing butterfly clips 
  • 1 x roll of non-allergic tape
  • Permanent marker 
  • Swabs, gauze and sterile wipes

Snakebite location, and tourniquet application require the time the person was bitten, or the device was applied to be visibly marked on top of the bandage or tourniquet, and in the location directly above the bite site area where the fangs injected the venom.

  • Alcohol wipes
  • Betadine wipes
  • Saline solution ampoules 
  • Scissors 
  • Disposable gloves
  • Tweezers 
  • Some form of glucose tablets or sugar source
  • Safety pins
  • Space blanket
  • CPR single use fold up face mask
  • 2 x Heavy duty absorbent pads to control bleeding 

Heavy flow sanitary pads that are individually wrapped make a fantastic addition to the First Aid Kit for car or workshop First Aid Kits as they are designed to absorb large volumes of blood, and they are sterile until opened or their packaging is compromised.

  • 1 x each of the bandages, small, medium, and large.

Ideally, one self-adhesive in nature, but gauze is perfectly acceptable and easier to work with. If you hike or do anything that might see you break a large bone or injure a limb, you will need a large bandage to cover the entire limb. If you can only pack one, go large every time! You can use the scissors to cut down a large bandage to make smaller ones if required.

You can always customize your First Aid Kit to suit your personal, family, or workplace needs. You can purchase and add your own pain relief or fever control medications at any time, but you must do bi-yearly inspections to ensure your medications are in date and replace them when they are close to expiring.

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