Spring Cleaning: Your First-Aid Kit

Here comes spring, when we look to clear out the clutter and start fresh. Closets, tool sheds, maybe even our vehicles are on the list for emptying and reorganizing. Here’s one more item for that list: your first aid kit, whether it’s in the workplace, at home or in your car or company vehicle.

It’s easy to take a set-and-forget mentality with a first aid kit, especially if it hasn’t been used recently. But things expire or lose their effectiveness, and you don’t want to wait until there’s an emergency to discover missing or outdated items. Here are a few things to consider as you open the kit and check its contents.

First, what exactly is in there, and are the contents appropriate to your needs? This is especially important in the workplace. For example, a company working with chemicals would probably want additional eye wash, while a carpentry shop might go heavier on bandages. At a bare minimum, a workplace kit should fulfill the OSHA/ANSI first aid standard.

Once you’ve determined the appropriate mix of contents, it’s time to inspect them one by one. If the whole kit is more than three to five years old and hasn’t been regularly inspected and updated, consider replacing it completely.  It’s also a good idea to have a separate inventory of the kit’s contents so you can easily tell what’s missing and needs to be restocked. In a larger workplace kit like a wall-mounted cabinet, that list should include a diagram of what goes where so everything winds up in the right place and can be found quickly in an emergency.

If any items in the kit have been used, don’t wait for spring – replace those right away. It might seem unlikely that you’ll need the same item again in the near future, but it happens. And think beyond the moment … if you regularly use bandages, order enough to keep some extras on hand.

Check for expiry dates on any liquids, creams or ointments. Discard any expired items and replace them immediately. Things without expiration dates can lose their effectiveness also. Bandages, for example, can dry out and lose their sterility as packaging deteriorates, another reason to keep things up to date.

Maintaining a first aid kit probably isn’t near the top of the list for most people’s spring cleaning priorities, but it should be. Being prepared with appropriate, up-to-date resources is far more important than a well-organized closet.

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