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10 Things You Need in a College First Aid Kit

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When you think about dorm room essentials, you may not immediately think of a first aid kit. But in reality, a first aid kit can be a major lifesaver in many ways. Maybe you’ll wake up in the middle of the night with a cold, or maybe you had too good of a weekend and need help rehydrating your body. No matter the situation, a properly stocked first aid kit can help treat any common ailments in a pinch.

You might need your first aid kit as soon as move-in day, so be prepared and pack along a kit that is easily accessible and full of supplies that you’ll need over the course of your college experience. At Collegeboxes, we know the importance of staying prepared, so we compiled a list of things that you could include in your own first aid kit.

Why Do You Need a First Aid Kit?

You might be wondering why it’s important to have a first aid kit. To sum it up in a word: preparation. While we never expect a sudden illness or injury, it’s important to have some supplies ready in case the time comes. First aid kits don’t even have to be only for emergencies, they can also be your one-stop-shop that helps save you an unexpected visit to your local pharmacy.

How to Build a First Aid Kit

Before picking up all the supplies, it helps to select a roomy container to hold everything comfortably. Prioritize containers with secure lids, like cosmetic bags that have zippers or storage containers with snappable lids. The size of your container depends on how much you want to include in your kit, but standard first aid kits are usually 8 inches long, 6 inches wide, and 3 inches deep.

What Should I Include in My Kit?

You don’t need to go overboard with the packing, especially if you’re the only one accessing the kit. The great part about building your own first aid kit is that you can prioritize the items you’ll need more often and even omit things that you don’t find necessary. Feel free to customize as you see fit!

10 First Aid Kit Necessities

Insurance and medical information: In the event of a medical emergency, it is vital to have insurance and necessary medical information readily available. If you have specific allergies or a list of prescriptions, these should be included. Keep these items in a little plastic bag and at the very top of your kit.

Tools: Most importantly, always have a thermometer. On top of this, tweezers, scissors, and cotton pads are important if you need to address an injury. Each tool has a role to play! Tweezers can pick out little things from a cut, scissors can snip the gauze and tape easily, while cotton pads are important for applying things like antiseptics.

Over-the-counter medications: You should have some commonly used medications in your kit. Pain relievers like ibuprofen, antidiarrheal medication like Imodium, and antihistamines like Claritin are all necessities for addressing headaches, pain, allergies, and stomach discomfort.

Prescriptions: If you have unique prescriptions, you should have a backup supply in your first aid kit. If you have ever used a pharmacy, you know that accidents can happen, and you can suddenly be denied your usual refill. Having some backups can help you stay on your medication schedule in the event of any issues.

Ointments: Burn cream is always helpful to have around when you need it, and so is hydrocortisone cream. These two are probably the most important ointments to have on hand, in order to treat any skin irritation or minor burns.

Wound care: Even the smallest scrapes deserve some medical attention. In your kit you should have bandages or gauze along with some antiseptic to clean the injury. Make sure you have multiple sizes of bandages if you decide to go that route.

Cold and flu: One thing about college, illness can spread fast. Be prepared for the inevitable cold you’re going to catch on campus by stocking up on cough drops, cold medicine, and nasal decongestants. Make sure you have drowsy and daytime versions of cold medicine; you’ll thank yourself later.

Contraceptives: This might be something you don’t want to pack in front of your parents, but it’s still important. Condoms are a universal item that everyone can use, but this could be a great place to place other forms of birth control as well.

Portable pain relief: This includes items like heat packs and ice packs, or even a portable massager for aches and pains. A fabric brace could also fit into a first aid kit if you fold it up.

Mental health resources: Give yourself a reference sheet full of numbers and emails to access counseling services, helplines, or other mental health resources that are available to you.

Are Premade Kits Worth It?

Premade first aid kits are a great option for people that don’t have the time to customize a personal kit. When purchasing a premade first aid kit, be aware that inexpensive options may have lower quality materials. Investing in a higher quality kit can be pretty expensive, so be prepared to spend around $100 if that is the route you choose. 

Building your own kit can give you the option to omit or prioritize certain items, so it can be a cheaper alternative. A good way to create a first aid kit on a budget is by making a list of everything you’ll need and trying to consolidate space by trying to find how supplies overlap. This means purchasing either ibuprofen or acetaminophen or purchasing a good set of gauze rather than stocking up on boxes of various bandages.

Do First Aid Kits Expire?

While not everything in a first aid kit will expire, certain items like medications or ointments do have an expiration date. Items like bandages and gloves can also deteriorate over time, so no first aid kit is bound to last forever. Checking in every 6 months will keep you on top of any expiring supplies. An easy way to remind yourself is by setting a reminder on your phone once you finish setting up your kit. 

When it comes to living on campus, you may not have access to all the resources you have at home. In situations like this, it’s important to be prepared for when issues, injury, or illnesses pop up. Need more help preparing for college? Collegeboxes is here to help! On top of our storage, ship to school, and direct shipping services, we also offer more tips and tricks to help you navigate through your college career.