When I first left my parents’ house and moved into a college dorm, I was PREPARED. I had bedding, pillows, and clip-on lights for late-night studying. I had quarters for the laundry machine. I had my clothes, books, and office supplies organized by color and category. I had fifty feet of parachute cord, just in case. And I had the first aid kid to end all first aid kits.
I was ready for everything. Ibuprofen. Tylenol. Allergy meds. Bug spray. Gauze pads. Lozenges. Athletic tape, even though I wasn’t athletic. Two dozen condoms, even though I had never had sex. I was ready for everything short of a sucking chest wound, and if I ran into one of those, I could always break out my duct tape.
Fast forward six years and I’m out of college, out of school, much less organized, and still hanging on to that damn enormous first aid kit. It lives under my bathroom sink, usually with tons of makeup, shower supplies, Q-tips, and extra toilet paper rolls sitting on top of it. Getting into it is a huge pain in the ass.
I don’t take medications very often, and when I do it’s because I’m sick. Trying to remember where the cold medicine is, or digging out the last tiny Benedryl from under a mountain of cotton balls is frustrating, especially when I already feel crappy. Keeping first aid supplies in a hard-to-reach or poorly organized place is also a potential biohazard. Have you ever sliced your own finger cutting vegetables and had to dig your first aid kit out from under pounds of toiletries one-handed? In a word, MESSY.
So, after a round of stomach flu, I spent $5, and streamlined my first aid kit into something a little more accessible.
This is my mini first aid kit. I stocked it with medications and supplies I use frequently and don’t want to have to dig through the big daddy first aid kit to find, as well as things I would need to access fast when I needed them at all. (Pro-tip: If you have an explosive case of stomach flu, make sure your anti-nausea medication isn’t buried in a cabinet or under a box. Ask me how I know.) I also store some things which I’ll use frequently but are too big for the mini-kit (like bottles of peroxide and iodine) on the caddy next to the kit.
I also labeled each container and drawer to make it easier for visitors to find what they needed and for me to remember which meds went where. Organization has always been an uphill battle for me, and labels really help.
NOTE: I live in a home with no children and no nosy animals (just a sassy tuxedo cat). This kit is clearly not childproof, nor did I intend it to be. If you have kids or hungry pets in your house and want to use this idea, please store your kit high up or behind a child-latched cabinet door.
Let’s take a closer look at this bad boy:
Top container: “I’M BLEEDING!”
This container has band-aids and Neosporin. It’s in the flip-top container because I wanted all this stuff to be accessible one-handed, in case you were using your other hand to hold a compress on a bleeding cut. In the caddies behind it, I keep Chinese curing pills for upset tummies, tweezers, nail clippers, tea tree oil for scrapes and zits, and a homemade massage oil for working out sore spots.
Second drawer: “My [body part] hurts!”
This is my favorite drawer — it holds all the nice drugs that make sore muscles and body aches feel better. I have lozenges for sore throats, Orajel for toothaches and sore gums, and my BFF, ibuprofen. The larger containers for these are in the master first aid kit under the sink.
Third drawer: “I have a cold/allergies/I can’t sleep!”
I put the mini-kit together about a month ago and let me tell you, this little guy is MIGHTY. I’ve saved a lot of time and annoyance just trying to find a dab of Neosporin or 400 mgs of ibuprofen. I imagine it would be a great idea for organizing vitamins, herbs, or birth control, too.
My take-aways from this whole adventure are:
- Think about what you use most frequently. There’s no point in making a mini-bag of a prescription you took two years ago.
- Think about how you’ll feel when you’ll need it. Avoid containers with tricky latches and don’t store them too far out of reach. You may be sick, exhausted, or bleeding when you need your kit–save yourself some stress and make it easy to use.
- Prioritize multi-use items. Advil PM can work for a headache before bed and insomnia. Tweezers can be used for splinters and plucking cotton balls out of new medicine bottles. Try to make sure everything in your kit has more than one function–it’ll mean going into your main first aid kit less!