Last summer I was lucky enough to spend a holiday with my husband’s family in the south of France. It was all you’d expect from a trip over the channel…. lovely gite, sunshine, excessive amounts of cheese and of course ‘beaucoup du vin’. One could even, for a brief moment, forget that there were 4 small children disrupting the harmony and tearing the place apart.
On one particular day we ventured out of our beautiful accommodation and had a glorious time by a lake, picnicking and generally making merry. As it inevitably happens when in the company of a small people, we gradually migrated towards a slightly dilapidated French play area. Unfortunately my little niece took a tumble on the rather antiquated slide and took a bit of a blow to her head. I am very pleased to report that she was fine, however her forehead was not looking so pretty. Now please bear in mind that at this stage – out of the 6 adults present – 4 were fully qualified, paid up doctors. Whilst my sister-in-law (one of the non-medics I hasten to add) tried to wipe the blood out of her daughters eyes, the rest of us just made helpful comments like ‘it’ll be fine’, ‘unlikely to scar’ and most helpful at all ‘it doesn’t need stiching, just needs a few steristrips’. My sister-in-law quite reasonably assumed that we would rustle up this fairly simple bit of gear and soon her first-born would be happily back on the swings.
Alas that did not occur….instead many hours later they returned, having driven many miles to the nearest doctor (this was rural France), paid many euros and received expert medical care in the form of….a couple of steristrips! At that moment I thought I’d better behave like a normal mummy and put together a rudimentary first aid kit. So here are my thoughts on useful bits and bobs to put in a family first aid kit. This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means but a good starter. My advice is you don’t need loads of things to hand, just a few (in date!) key items.
Thermometer: I’m always amazed how many patients with young children don’t have a simple home thermometer. The best ones are the ear thermometers as they most accurately measure core temperature, although they are the most expensive type I’m afraid.
Strip thermometers are fairly useless as all they do is measure the skin temperature.
Paracetamol/Ibuprofen: this comes very high on my list of proprieties. In fact I have often considered purchasing shares in a particular brand of lurid pink liquid paracetamol given how much we get through in our house. Used to bring down temperatures, for pain and teething. Paracetamol is usually the first port of call, but ibuprofen can be given with it or alone for a few days also. As most parents know it isn’t really called paracetamol but ‘magic-cetamol’.
Antihistamines: they can come either orally (liquid or tablets dependant on your children’s ages) or as a cream. Antihistamines can be used on all sorts of occasions where itching is an issue. Typically used after insect bites, creams are very useful for immediate relief. However for more widespread or prolonged itching oral treatment is very helpful e.g. A flare up of eczema, allergy to new washing powder, multiple bites etc.
Antiseptic wipes: useful to clean cuts and grazes to reduce infection.
Antiseptic cream: can be applied after the wound is cleaned.
Plasters: various shapes, sizes, designs, pattern’s…the more the merrier. I personally quite like the strip ones as you can then cut into any size/shape required.
Steristrips: very thin adhesive strips (also known as butterfly stitches), which are applied across a cut to pull the 2 sides of a wound together. They are often used for smaller lacerations instead of stitches. Even if you aren’t sure if a cut needs stitching/gluing they are useful to hold a wound together en-route to A&E.
Micropore Tape: this is an adhesive tape that feels rather like paper but is actually a fabric. It can be torn to size and is very useful for taping ends of bandages or holding dressings/plasters in place. I also find it immensely useful for craft projects!
Tubigrips/Bandages: I wouldn’t go overboard on this front. A simple tubigrip can be useful for the initial days after a sprain, and the odd bandage is useful for holding dressings in place etc. The only other instance when I think bandages are of essential use at home is to tightly bind over a bleeding wound in order to help stem the blood flow. Obviously a fairly sharpish trip to A&E is then likely to be required.
Simple dressing: eg. Mepore to cover grazes or simple cuts
Small scissors: for cutting plasters etc.