If there’s no first aid kit, how to improvise?


We all know that every workplace needs to have a first aid kit, with suitable equipment for treating injuries from accidents which could occur.

Much time and effort is spent on ensuring that companies have the correct equipment needed – often at the expense of more practical measures such as ensuring that people know what to do in an emergency. There is even legislative guidance on what should be included in a workplace first aid kit in the form of the Heath & Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981.

But however carefully we set our to ensure that we have the equipment needed in the event of an emergency there is of course no guarantee that everything will go to plan. It could be that you are faced with an accident and simply don’t have access to a first aid kit – for example you could be away from your workplace, travelling or out and about with friends / family. Well there is no need to worry excessively about not having the first aid kit – most of the items can easily be substituted with what you have around you, there is plenty of scope for improvisation.

Our team of first aid instructors have put together these straightforward suggestions of things that you can use if you don’t have the common first aid items that you have come to expect :

1. Dressings/bandages to stop blood loss: the main purpose of dressing and bandages is to put pressure on a wound and stop the blood loss, they are not a handicraft or fashion statement so there are plenty of things you can use instead if they are not available. More or less any clean non-fluffy material will do, so for example a shirt, blouse, necktie or pillowcase. If you are at home then freshly laundered be linen is great – obviously not sterile like a sealed dressing, but with a low bacteria count which means an infection is less likely.

2. Burn kits: not a common item in first aid kits, mainly due to the fact that they are not mentioned in any of the regulatory guidance. Cold water being the best and most immediate treatment for a burn so that you thoroughly cool it down. But following this you’ll want to cover the burn to minimise infection and a great way to do this is to use cling film. You can discard the first part of the roll, ie the part which people might have touched and thus contaminated, so pull off the first length and throw it away – then use the next bit for your casualty.

3. Eye wash: this is great for first aid situations when somebody have something in their eye such as dust, splashed chemical / irritants etc. In these cases eyewash straight from its sterile container is the best thing to use. But if you don’t have eyewash the next best thing is fresh tap water and the best sort of tap water to use if from the cold kitchen tap. Why the kitchen tap? Well, because the water in the kitchen is potable water straight from the mains and thus free of contamination. The bathroom taps are often fed from a tank on your roof and not always as clean as they could be.

Carlton Training run regular courses at our training centres. We can also visit your premises to train a group of people. Learn more about our First Aid Courses.

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