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Traveler's First-Aid Kit

What should a traveler's first aid kit include?

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) encourages travelers to pack a first aid kit so that common medical emergencies can be properly handled should they occur. Pack the following items in your carry-on bag and keep it with you at all times:

  • acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin to relieve headaches, pain, fever, and simple sprains or strains
  • antihistamines to relieve allergies and inflammation
  • anti-nausea/motion sickness medication (You may also want to include medication for altitude sickness if traveling to high altitudes.)
  • bandages of assorted sizes to cover minor cuts and scrapes
  • bandage closures, such as butterfly bandages, to tape edges of minor cuts together
  • triangular bandage to wrap injuries and make an arm sling
  • elastic wraps to wrap wrist, ankle, knee, and elbow injuries
  • gauze in rolls, as well as two-inch and four-inch pads to dress larger cuts and scrapes
  • adhesive tape to keep gauze in place
  • scissors with rounded tips to cut tape, gauze, or clothes, if necessary
  • safety pins to fasten splints and bandages
  • antiseptic wipes to disinfect wounds or clean hands, tweezers, scissors, or other utensils
  • antibiotic ointment to prevent infection in cuts, scrapes, and burns
  • hydrogen peroxide to clean and disinfect wounds
  • disposable, instant-activating cold packs to cool injuries and burns, as well as for use in strains and sprains
  • tweezers to remove small splinters, foreign objects, bee stingers, and ticks from the skin
  • disposable rubber gloves to protect hands and reduce risk of infection when treating wounds
  • thermometer to take temperatures in case of illness
  • calamine lotion to relieve itching and irritation from insect bites and poison ivy
  • hydrocortisone cream to relieve irritation from rashes
  • sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher
  • insect repellent (Those appropriate for use on children should contain no more than 10 to 15 percent DEET, and 20 to 30 percent DEET for adults, as the chemical can cause harm when absorbed through the skin.)
  • medicine for diarrhea (Talk to your physician about a prescription for an antibiotic you can take in case of diarrhea.)
  • cough and cold medicines

Be sure to follow the same precautions with the medicines in your first aid kit as you do with all medications, and use only as recommended by your physician. Make sure children cannot get into the first aid bag - use child safety caps whenever possible. Check expiration dates and discard medication that is out-of-date. And, if someone has a life-threatening allergy, carry the appropriate medication with you at all times.

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Online Resources of Travel Medicine

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