First aid

Updated 07 June 2017

Here's why you need a first aid kit in the car

Emergency services are often spread thin, especially when storms and major disasters strike. When travelling on the road, having a well-stocked first aid kit could be a lifesaver.

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We spend a lot of time on the road – on our way to and from work, visiting friends, shopping, or going on holiday. But often there are times when drivers are on the road in unfavourable conditions and accidents happen when you least expect them, so it's always good to be prepared and have a first aid kit in your car.

Why is it important to keep a first aid kit in the car?

Drivers should always do their best to be prepared for a medical emergency along the road, says Russel Meiring, Communications Officer for ER24. “Even if you are not medically qualified, you may be able to assist an injured person with a first aid kit.

This first aid kit will serve as a basic resource and means of assistance until further medical help arrives, says Meiring. This kit will also help you treat minor injuries that do not require trained medical assistance, such as minor cuts.

What should be done in emergency situations?

“One of the first things to do, in any emergency situation, is to make sure your safety is not put in jeopardy,” says Meiring. “The next step is to call emergency services. Once all the details of the incident have been given, you should then begin to assess the situation.

"If, for instance, the patient has a nosebleed from a minor trauma to the face, the first step would be to make sure that there are no fractures or open wounds to the face or facial bones."

The patient should sit up straight with the head bent slightly forward – tilting the head back will cause the blood to run down the back of the throat.

"Be sure to wear gloves when you are dealing with  bleeding of any sort", adds Meiring, "and use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the soft part of the nose shut."

In more severe cases

If the bleeding continues for more than 10 minutes, call emergency services as it could be a more serious head trauma.

In more severe cases, such as a neck trauma, it could leave the patient with serious injuries if not treated correctly (or left untreated).

If someone has sustained an injury to the neck, emergency services should be contacted immediately. Prevent the patient from moving as movement could cause further damage or injury.

"In major emergency situations, always try to keep the patient calm while waiting for help to arrive," says Meiring.

“But if there are any patients on the scene, you can now offer your help – using your first aid kit – to those who need it.”

What should your first aid kit consist of?

  • Packs of sterile gauze
  • Adhesive, hypoallergenic tape
  • Adhesive bandages in several sizes
  • Triangular elastic bandages
  • Crepe roller bandages, one large and one small
  • Large and small sterile dressings
  • Sterile eye dressings
  • Eye pads with bandages
  • Pack of sterile cotton wool swabs
  • Assorted plasters
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Rehydration sachets
  • Any extra prescription medication (if you are going away on holiday)
  • Tweezers
  • Sharp scissors
  • Safety pins
  • Face cloth
  • Thermometer
  • Gloves
  • Torch and spare batteries
  • List of emergency contact numbers, e.g. ambulance, family doctor, paediatrician etc.

Read more:

CPR

Dealing with an emergency

First aid in the workplace