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Prepping your home for medical situations

If you looked inside your medicine cabinet at home, would you find the kinds of supplies you'd need to handle a medical emergency?

Whether it's antiseptic ointment to protect skin from infection or gauze pads for cuts and wounds, it's always a good idea to be prepared for any number of situations.

In fact, experts recommend that every household should have basic first aid materials and information on hand all the time.

A typical first aid kit in your home should include:

  • scissors and tweezers
  • flashlight and batteries
  • bandages and gauze pads of various sizes
  • antiseptic ointment
  • adhesive tape
  • plastic bags
  • disposable gloves
  • hand cleaner
  • safety pins
  • thermometer

While your medicine cabinet doesn't need to be stacked with a compendium of over-the-counter medications like in a pharmacy, certain ones for common ailments are suggested.

Your cabinet should contain:

  • pain relievers (e.g., acetaminophen or ibuprofen)
  • stomach-settling medications (e.g., bismuth subsalicylate or calcium carbonate)
  • anti-nauseants for vomiting and nausea (e.g., bismuth subsalicylate or dimenhydrinate)
  • antihistamines for allergic reactions (e.g., diphenhydramine or loratadine)

Sometimes keeping different forms of medication can also be a good idea. For example, children's medication can be available in liquid or suppository forms, the latter being more useful if the child is vomiting.

Many people keep their medicine cabinets in the bathroom, but health professionals say they should be placed in a cool, dry  place, such as in a linen closet. Make sure that any medications are kept out of children's reach, preferably in a locked cabinet or box.

If you take regular prescription medications, it's a good idea to keep extra amounts available (such as a 10-day supply) in a safe place – just in case you need it. Don't let that supply sit around longer than the expiration date, though – replace your "back-up" medications when you renew your prescription and use up all of your older supply.

If there are people with diabetes in the house who are prone to having low blood sugar, be sure to have certain supplies on hand to treat them in the event of an emergency situation, such as glucose tablets, candies or fruit drinks. Having a properly functioning blood glucose monitor would also be helpful, especially if you or a member of your family are taking insulin or other anti-diabetes medications and are prone to getting dips in your blood sugar readings. If you are not sure if yours is working correctly, call your pharmacist and make an appointment to go over how to use it and ensure it is in proper working order.

In addition to medical supplies, emergency contact information should be displayed in a common area like the refrigerator, where everyone in your house can easily find it, no matter what time of day or night it is. Important medical information (such as allergies, medical conditions, and prescription medications) should also be recorded on a list that you keep with you at all times (like in your wallet).

Phone numbers and working hours posted on the fridge should include:

  • family doctors
  • local hospitals
  • fire
  • ambulance
  • police (emergency and non-emergency)
  • poison control centres

Up-to-date medical records of family members can also come in handy in a crunch, so you may want to find an easy-to-find location in your house to keep copies of vaccination records, as well as a list containing what medications people are currently taking and what types of allergies they have.

Also, make a point to regularly check the expiry dates on the medications you keep in your first aid kit. If they are expired, take them to your local pharmacy for proper disposal.

You never know when an emergency will unfold or what the nature of it will be, but the more prepared you are, the better able you'll likely be at coping with it.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

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