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Back-to-School: Tips on Creating a First-Aid Kit for College

Monday, August 5th, 2013

We remember to pack sheets, electronics, and posters for the wall when kids go to college but what about medicine? Yes, there’s usually a medical center on campus but my guest blogger, Professional Organizer Heather Ahern of The FUNctional Home believes that preparing college students for minor medical issues is equally as important as preparing them for academics (I agree!).

When packing a student to live away at college, don’t forget to assemble a comprehensive first aid kit.  

Think beyond ibuprofen and Band-Aids when creating this kit for a dorm room. On campus the Health Services are often not available 24 hours a day and some things can be handled easily if the right supplies are on hand. Students need more than the typical pre-packed first aid kit that contains only one or two doses of medications and a few bandages. Also when stocking your own first aid kit, you can ensure the medications are your preferred brands and have a longer shelf life by checking the expiration dates.

A typical first aid kit should include the basic tools and equipment needed for cuts, bumps and bruises: 
Adhesive bandages in all shapes and sizes
antiseptic wipe packets
antibiotic ointment
sterile gauze pads
adhesive tape
hydrocortisone ointment
scissors
eye wash
instant cold compresses
hot packs
elastic (Ace) bandage
thermometer
tweezers

This kit will also be an extension of your medicine cabinet at home so it needs to include: 
Acetaminophen for aches and pains,
Ibuprofen for pain caused by inflammation and swelling
laxatives
anti-diarrhea pills
antacids in case of indigestion
Benadryl for allergic reactions
seasonal allergy medicine
some basic medications for cold and flu season.
Athlete’s foot medicine may come in handy as well.

A conversation on how to use all these new purchases will be helpful for many students living away from home for the first time. 

Before my son left for his freshman year at college we took an unhurried trip to the drugstore. We walked up and down each isle collecting what he needed, discussing why he may need it, with an explanation on how to use it. Being in a new situation, having an altered schedule and eating different foods can bring on a variety of issues in the first few months that many students may have never dealt with before. Take some time to clarify why you included Imodium or Dulcolax for example and the difference between them. You may want to cover when the “kit” is appropriate and in what circumstances the Campus Health Services would be a better choice.

Purchase a durable box to contain all these supplies after you have amassed all the items to insure everything will fit.  

Remove some items like bandages from their original boxes and use plastic zip-top storage bags to save space. Be sure to include a copy of their insurance card, the campus health center’s phone number, the phone number for your child’s physician and a list of any known allergies to medication.

Remember all first aid kits need to be restocked occasionally. Check expiration dates and replace any used or out-of-date contents each year before heading back to school. This is a good time to do an inventory of your own supplies at home too.

Heather Ahern is a Professional Organizer living in Bridgewater MA
helping families and seniors “Make Sense of their Stuff and Create
Peace in their Home”.

For more information, tips and inspiration
visit TheFUNctionalHome.com  or follow Heather on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TheFUNctionalHome.

About Stacey Agin Murray

Stacey is a professional organizer & speaker in New Jersey specializing in residential organizing, time, and paper management challenges. She also authored The Organized Bride’s Thank You Note Handbook: Let Systems and 101 Modern Sample Thank You Notes Take You From Overwhelmed to Organized.

Categories: Back-to-School, Guest Blogger, Medicine Cabinet, Organzing Kids

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2 responses to “Back-to-School: Tips on Creating a First-Aid Kit for College”

  1. Mike Loshe says:

    Thanks for the share! As a recent college grad, I can say that the two most important things you are going to want to stock up on is Advil and bandages. With all the work you are going to be doing, you are definitely going to get some serious headaches and Advil will soon become your new best friend. Bandages, which you might not expect, will also be highly important. Often times I found myself scraping me knee or elbow playing some type of sport over at the rec fields and bandages definitely came in handy. I would recommend getting mepilex bandages since they have a strong adhesive, which will stay on even when you sweat.

  2. Mike,

    Thanks so much for sharing that great first-aid kit advice–especially the mepilex recommendation. You speak from experience and I hope your comment helps at least one reader remember to pack (if nothing else) one bottle of Advil and one box of bandaids in their bag before heading off to college!

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