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How To Make a College Dorm First Aid Kit

Updated on August 10, 2016
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FlourishAnyway is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist and parent with an interest in DIY and health topics.

A dorm first aid kit is one more way of saying you care.  Send them off to college prepared to handle any minor mishap, from cuts and burns to colds and flu to headaches and diarrhea.
A dorm first aid kit is one more way of saying you care. Send them off to college prepared to handle any minor mishap, from cuts and burns to colds and flu to headaches and diarrhea. | Source

Help Them Handle Life's Little Emergencies

As your teen heads off to college, you can be sure there will be minor mishaps in the dorm environment: falls, burns, scrapes, fevers, hangovers -- I mean headaches. (You know, from all that studying.)

Set your college student up for success by assembling a first-rate first aid kit for the college dorm room. Sure, at first he may balk, but consider this to be another way of taking care of him. Better yet, you're helping him take care of himself.

Whereas regular first aid kits tend to focus simply on medical emergencies, a dorm first aid kit goes one step further. It should additionally anticipate common non-emergency conditions like allergies, heartburn, and diarrhea/stomach upset.

While standard first aid kits are often inexpensive, they are not tailored to the unique needs of college students. This will be your young adult's medicine cabinet while away from home. Equip him or her well!

For Life's Little Mishaps

Make sure she has bandages when needed.  Pack a variety of shapes and sizes.
Make sure she has bandages when needed. Pack a variety of shapes and sizes. | Source

Medications

Include medications that anticipate the common types of situations your college student might face. Consider that he may need to use items from the kit to occasionally help roommates, friends, and visitors to the dorm.

Include enough supplies for at least a semester away from home. Here is a list of common medications to include (see table below).

Eye drops are important for anyone who suffers from allergies.
Eye drops are important for anyone who suffers from allergies. | Source

Start Off By Including These Medications

First Aid Medications
antiseptic spray, cream, or wipes (e.g., Bactine, Neosporin with pain relief)
sterile eye wash (for emergency flushing of foreign bodies) and eye drops (e.g., Visine - for non-emergency use)
oral Benadryl (for hay fever, sudden allergic reactions to nuts or other foods)
laxative (e.g., ex•lax, Dulcolax)
diarrhea medication (e.g., Imodium A-D, Pepto Bismol)
cough drops
hydrocortisone cream
ammonia inhalant ampoules
pain reliever of your choice: acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, aspirin
multi-symptom cold relief
Source

Pain Relief Precautions

Aspirin has an important first aid role in emergency treatment for heart attacks and certain types of strokes, so when it comes to pain relievers, you may want to provide it in addition to any other pain reliever you prefer.1

Depending on what your student is taking pain reliever for (e.g., headache, cold/flu, an injury involving swelling), he should know that taking acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol) does not reduce inflammation. Acetaminophen also may involve rare but severe health risks if taken at high doses.

Also, make sure your college student understands that mixing alcohol with any over-the-counter pain relievers -- acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin -- can increase the risk of liver damage, a rare but serious side effect.2,3

While they're away from home, help your young adult learn to handle minor medical mishaps, illnesses, and emergencies.  Equip them with a good first aid kit.
While they're away from home, help your young adult learn to handle minor medical mishaps, illnesses, and emergencies. Equip them with a good first aid kit. | Source

Reader Poll

Do you pay attention to how much acetaminophen you take to avoid overdosing?

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Source

Useful Tools

Add other items to help with treating wounds and assisting with sick care and comfort.

As long as tools don't seem to need the instructions that came with their packaging, you may want to discard their outer packaging to conserve space in the dorm first aid kit. This also saves your student time opening the item at the moment it is needed. Examples of when to discard packaging: tweezers, scissors, and cloth tape.

Since a kit does little good if you cannot find what you are looking for, consider using small Ziploc bags to keep similar items organized together. Also use them to keep items such as cotton balls and cotton swabs clean.

Useful tools include:

Source

Add These Useful Tools and Supplies

 
 
tweezers (for removing splinters)
first aid instruction book
cotton balls
space blanket
cotton swabs
heat pack
scissors (for cutting rolled bandages)
instant cold compress
variety of adhesive bandages (in assorted sizes)
CPR breathing barrier
rolled bandages with pins (or self-stick)
safety pins
cloth tape
lip balm
gauze pads (for larger wounds)
small pack of tissues
digital oral thermometer
 
Source

Order a First Aid Instruction Book

American Medical Association Handbook of First Aid and Emergency Care
American Medical Association Handbook of First Aid and Emergency Care

The AMA is a trusted medical authority. Rely on this handy guide for first aid and emergency care.

 

Supplies To Keep Clean

Assemble supplies that reduce germs and the chance of contamination. Since some people have serious latex allergies, consider latex-free nitrile gloves. Store several pair together in a Ziploc bag.

Alcohol or hydrogen peroxide will come in handy for cleaning used tools before putting them back in the kit (e.g., tweezers, the thermometer). Supplies to promote cleanliness include:

Add These Items To Help Reduce Germs

Germ Reducing Product
disposable exam gloves
antibiotic hand cleanser
rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide

Putting It All Together

Locate a clean box to contain first aid supplies. Ideally, the box should be "emergency red." It must be easily noticed in a dorm room that could be messy.

Ideas for boxes include an inexpensive toolbox, tackle box, or a plastic storage container with a lid. You could also wrap a shoe box in red wrapping paper. (Individually wrap the bottom and top, of course.)

In the bottom of the box, place the following:

  • a master list of first aid kit items. You -- or your responsible young son or daughter — will need to check the kit's contents periodically for replenishing.

Next, add supplies to your box, and label it "FIRST AID." Then, attach an index card to the inside lid. The card should feature this information:

  • a list of important numbers (e.g., Poison Control, Campus Health Service, University Police, your Emergency Contact Information).
  • known allergies or other important medical information for each roommate, if available.


Why not build your own first aid kit?  Standard pre-assembled first aid kits don't contain the specific items you prefer.  They also typically lack many important items.
Why not build your own first aid kit? Standard pre-assembled first aid kits don't contain the specific items you prefer. They also typically lack many important items. | Source

Add A Personal Touch From Home

If room permits, you may also want to add a personal touch to the dorm first aid kit by including a copy of a photo of your child when he was younger. Perhaps he broke his arm when he was 12 years old or she had a memorable bicycle accident when she was 8? Do you have a photo to pair with some encouraging words?

A first aid kit that reminds your child where she's been and how much she is loved -- a first aid kit that is customized to her needs and the dorm environment by the person who know her best -- is surely one that will set her up for success. No standard store-purchased kit can do that.

College Student Reviews Top 10 Things She Wishes She Had Known Before College

Notes

1Thai, MD, Khanh. "Aspirin: Heart-attack first aid." The Delaware Gazette. Last modified October 27, 2011. http://delgazette.com/2011/10/aspirin-heart-attack-first-aid/.

2George, Shannon. "Advil And Alcohol Effects On The Liver." LIVESTRONG.COM. Last modified May 17, 2011. http://www.livestrong.com/article/444422-advil-and-alcohol-effects-on-the-liver.

3MedicineNet. "ACETAMINOPHEN - ORAL (Panadol, Tylenol) side effects, medical uses, and drug interactions." Accessed April 6, 2013. http://www.medicinenet.com/acetaminophen-oral/article.htm.

This Might Be The Coolest Dorm Room Ever

© 2013 FlourishAnyway

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 5 months ago from USA

      DormDoc - Great point. Thank you for your comment.

    • DormDoc 5 months ago

      As a pharmacist who started a college first aid kit company five years ago, I do usually steer away from combination products.

      However, in our kit we elected to go with a multi symptom cold prep, since it did not seem wise to pack individual doses of Sudafed PE in a college kit. We did of course include strong Tylenol warnings in our instructions.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Sunshine625 - Glad they didn't need to use it. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Excellent list of emergency essentials for college students! I gave my daughter and her BFF a palm size can of mace also, luckily they never needed to use it!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      turthfornow - Thanks for stopping by. I hope this proves helpful as college kids venture off on their own. You never know what you may need.

    • truthfornow profile image

      truthfornow 3 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      Very much needed for those in college. It is awful when you need something and you don't have it. Great job.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      ologsinquito - Thanks for pinning and for visiting. There's so much they need to know!

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

      I'm pinning this to my Affording College board. It's close enough.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Thanks, Crafty! I appreciate the kind words. I hope the listing helps anyone who wants to assemble a first aid kid for their college age child venturing out away from home or for any other use. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      This is excellent advice, not just for college, but for under a bathroom sink. I love the presentation of this Hub!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      UNicQue - Glad you found this useful. Good luck to your sister in her new adventures at college!

    • uNicQue profile image

      Nicole Quaste 3 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      This is perfect. My little sister is going to college in the fall, and I'm in the process of putting together a big going away basket for her. Thank you! :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Thanks, Kasman, for the read, comment, and share. Yep, Boy Scout motto. You never know when you or someone else might need the help.

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 3 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

      I keep a first aid kit on me no matter if I'm driving or hiking through the wildnerness.......you just never know when you're going to need it. I think you're right about going one step further by adding all the diarrhea and stomach problem stuff into it. Not all kits include this! I think that our kids need to be prepared for everything, BOY SCOUTS! That's what I was taught anyway. Great Job on the details flourish! Voting up and sharing!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Thank you, Peggy, for the read and comment. It sure is better to be prepared than sorry!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      This is smart thinking to provide your son or daughter going off to college with a first aid kit. It may come in handy for them or for some of their college classmates who were less prepared. Up and useful votes.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Thank you, moonlake, for the read and comment. You can never be too prepared!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 3 years ago from America

      Great list. I also believe college students should take those fold out ladders for the windows in case of fire. Voted up and more.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      I appreciate the read, comment and vote, Rajan!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      It is absolutely imperative to have a first aid kit to tide over emergencies especially when living away from home as well as for times a doctor may not be available right away.

      Thanks for putting up this fine and very useful list.

      Voted up.

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