Make Your Own DIY First Aid Kit For The Road!

Now that school is almost out (yikes!) and summertime travel is just around the corner…I thought it might be a good time to do something I’ve been MEANING to do for a very long time. Put together a First Aid Kit for the car.

Everyone will need to use a first aid kit at some time…and of course no one knows when that time will be. So, take some advice from the Boy Scouts and BE PREPARED!

Ready-made first aid kits are available from many stores, but you can make a simple and inexpensive kit yourself. A LOT of the items I included in our first aid kit I already had on hand…just needed some sort of carrier to assemble it all in for the car.

Enter the good ol’ TACKLE BOX. This one set me back about $9.95 at Walmart. It’s probably not the color I would have chosen if I’d HAD a choice….but I can live with it. :-)

Since there are about a million different “LISTS” out there of what should go in a first aid kit…I decided to go with a list from a fairly reputable group….The Red Cross. :-)

The Red Cross recommends that all first aid kits for a family of four include the following:

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
  • 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
  • 5 antiseptic wipe packets
  • 2 packets of aspirin (81 mg each)
  • 1 blanket (space blanket)
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 1 instant cold compress
  • 2 pair of nonlatex gloves (size: large)
  • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
  • Scissors
  • 1 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
  • 5 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/nonglass)
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Tweezers
  • First aid instruction booklet

Here is what you’ll find in MY travel first aid kit (personalized to our family needs):


And last, but not least…..there is no better tool in the event of an emergency than a CELL PHONE.  If you can’t access emergency medical services, your car first aid kit is not complete. Cell phones need to have enough battery power to turn on, but they don’t need a service contract to call 9-1-1. Take that old cell phone you don’t use anymore and put it in your first aid kit for emergencies.

Now that your kit is COMPLETE….make sure you know how to properly use all of the items in your kit...and train OTHERS in your family to use it.

YOU may be the one who needs first aid!

Ready to hit the road with an added sense of security! (I should have done this LONG ago!) :-)

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  1. says

    May I add one reminder? I recently had to dig out my seldom used first aid kit from my car to retrieve the tensor bandage (I still don’t know where our other one went!) and I discovered that the Tylenol I had placed in there had expired. Eleven years ago! So my reminder is to make sure that you don’t forget about your kit, and keep all products up to date.

  2. Catherine's not naturally crafty says

    I always keep a cheap plastic eye cup and a sealed bottle of saline solution for rinsing out the sand/dust/bug whatever from the eye. Quick removal of the irritant can really make a difference between getting back on the road or in the game and otherwise heading to the Dr to look at the scratched cornea. Plus the saline can be used to clean all kinds of owies prior to bandaging. And a roll of duck tape which in an extreme emergency (major Trauma) can be used to close large wounds, and act as a tourniquet and hold the muffler on :)

    Last but not least, there is always a roll of TP. Again, good for clean pressure bandage and for the obvious emergency that involves a bush and some privacy.

    But, these are just to control the emergency until you use the cell phone and the paramedics arrive.

  3. Char Haas says

    Don’t forget a second first aid kit for your boat, if you have one. We had a friend trying to repair the motor on his speedboat on the water cut off the tip of his finger on Monday. Thank god for the boy scouts, and that my 14yo son decided to go at the last minute. He was the one who got the finger field dressed and hailed a passing fisherman for help, as it was the injured man , my son, and two other young teens in the boat at the time.

    SO make certain that you have a kit in EACH car, and in any other vehicle (boat, cycle, ATV, snowmobile)- and that every one in the family has some idea of how to use it.

  4. Pippa Griffin says

    The one thing I would add to your kit is a small container or tin of real aspirin – can be generic. This is vital in case someone may be having a heart attack and can be administered under the tongue immediately. Do NOT get the variety that is enteric though – you need the cheap fast dissolving variety. I carry aspirin in my purse at all times and in the past 10 years have helped two friends! It is also indicated when stroke may be a possibility. Such a cheap drug, but such a vital help in such times.

    • Brandon Edwards says

      EXCELLENT advice on carrying aspirin (instead of only acetaminophen) and its use for heart attack victims. You should give the person two pills; tell them to chew up the first one and then swallow the second…but, as a soon-to-be Registered Nurse, I must correct you on the use of aspirin for stroke victims. There are two types of stroke…ischemic and hemmorhagic. If you suspect someone is having a stroke, you would not give aspirin because you would be unable to differentiate between the two types and, if they are having a hemorrhagic stroke, giving aspirin would cause them to bleed out faster.

  5. Karie says

    FYI – in the heat your lip balm and vasaline will melt so you might want to put them in a seperate baggie…Found this out the hard way….Thanks for the great post today!

  6. Dina says

    I was wondering about leaving it in the car? Will the extreme heat or cold effect any of the products in the kit especially the medications? I keep a first aid kit with us whenever we go anywhere. I always take it in the house and grab the kit when we are leaving the house so of course it has been left behind many times.

  7. Mary Malone says

    Wow! Great Ideas. What I learned today: You can use an old cell phone to dial 911. !!! Everyone should know that. Thanks for everything you do for us!

  8. gabbie says

    they sell the instant cold packs the dollar store and because of youth sports we have used them more than any other thing in our first aid kit.

    i like the idea of a tackle box I think i will keep my keep out for a cheap one to use that can fit under our front seat

    • says

      Great suggestion gabbie! I was puzzled over the cold pack thing. I will definitely add one of those.

      I’m sure by the end of all the great suggestions my kit will definitely have been refined. ;-)

  9. kim says

    The cell phone is brilliant! I need to rummage around and see if we have an old one laying around. Question~ what is the purpose of the essential oils?

    • says

      Essential oils are helpful in a MYRIAD of first aid applications. I am a novice at this stuff…but certain plants like lavender help relieve mild burns or cleanse small cuts. My sister-in-law was stung by a bee at a BBQ we had on Mother’s Day and a little lavender oil on the spot completely took the swelling down and the sting away.
      Peppermint helps with stomach discomfort. I only included those two oils, but there are many more that COULD be included. Hope this helps. :-)

  10. Georgann G says

    Great and timely post! My question: I was under the impression that hydrogen peroxide had to be in an opaque bottle. That is why they sell it on those brown ones. Will it still be effective if stored in a clear bottle?

    • Katie C. says

      I thought the same thing at first about the Hydrogen Peroxide, because it IS sold in a dark container for a reason. But IF I remember my chemistry classes correctly… it’s because there’s a gradual reaction that takes place turning the H2O2 into regular H2O, and that reaction happens more quickly when exposed to light. Hence the dark container. So it doesn’t actually make it work any different by having it in a dark container, it will just last longer. Which is preferable… but since this will be stored in the tackle box and only used every so often, I would imagine being in the dark container would work just as well. That’s just my thoughts on it though!

    • Steele says

      It will store fine in a clear bottle, as long as it is not exposed to sunlight. Over time, however, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) releases oxygen (O) and you are left with water (H2O) and even under ideal conditions, will break down from 2% to 1% in about a year. So you have a less potent product. Higher temperatures increase this action. So if you store hydrogen peroxide in your vehicle in the summer you may want to replace it after six months/end of the season [i.e. first day of spring/first day of fall].

      Additionally, if OTCs are exposed to higher temperatures, this greatly shortens the potency of the medication, and could reduce the expiration life from approximately 18 months to around 6-12 months. And sometimes it actually alters the chemistry of the medication [like tetracycline, which actually changes into a different “chemical” and can cause kidney danger which is why you don’t want to take tetracycline after expiration, and don’t store it in a hot environment, as it shortens it’s lifespan].

      It’s wise to not only label these types of bottles with what it contains, but also label with the expiration date, and the date it was placed into the first aid kit, remembering that if the items have been exposed to higher temps, their shelf life has been greatly decreased. Personally, I replace all OTC’s in my “kit” every six months. And since they are basically “trial” size, or small amounts, it’s not a terribly expensive cost.

      Jillee, I would include one more thing in your kit. For burns whether they be an actual burn like from fire, or from sunburn. I would get a can of Dermoplast [red can, pain relieving]. It’s a great product for just about anything from cuts, to burns to insect bites.

      I’d also suggest that you get some providone iodine for cleaning, as alcohol is kinda harsh on for cleaning wounds as it may destroy tissue. Use the alcohol to “sterilize” items like your tweezers and your thermometer. And in a pinch, you can use straight alcohol as a hand sanitizer, so you don’t need to add that to your kit. That’s all a hand sanitizer is, alcohol, a jell product, and sometimes aloe so you don’t dry your hands out. [DIY idea!]

      And one more thing I’d add, is Hibiclens. It’s a antimicrobial skin cleanser with time extending anti-bacterial properties for wound cleaning. It’s great for prevention of MRSA.

      And a few instant cold packs.

      Oh yea, and a couple of “feminine” supplies.. you never know! And believe it or not, they are great for dealing with bleeding wounds when you have nothing else.

      That’s one problem with making up a first aid kit, you realize there are a few things that you forget and you soon realize you need a larger container [box or backpack] for those things.