First aid kits are essential for all types of school settings, including primary schools, high schools, tertiary education facilities and early childhood centres. Having a properly equipped first aid kit can help you deal with any emergencies that arise and could even save a life.
What you should include in a school first aid kit depends on the size and type of kit, the environment it is going to be used in and the potential risks that the staff and students face. A first aid risk assessment should be conducted to determine the first aid needs of the school community.
What kinds of first aid kits do you need at a school?
Schools should have a major first aid kit in each sick bay or nurse’s office as well as portable first aid kits that can be used for lunchtime, recess, sports classes and excursions.
Medication provided by parents for specific students should be stored separately, in an accessible place according to the instructions. For example, some medication will need to be stored in the refrigerator.
The number of first aid kits depends on the size of the school and the number of students and staff. Schools with less than 50 people may only need one first aid kit, but schools with 600-800 students will need around 10 first aid kits.
School first aid kit checklist
All schools should have these basic school first aid supplies:
1. Wound dressings
Whether you’re tending to minor cuts and scrapes or major skin wounds, it’s important to have a range of wound dressings on hand. Dressing wounds correctly can help speed up recovery and improve outcomes for the patient.
Wound dressings to include in a school first aid kit:
- Aeroplast plastic strips or other small adhesive dressings
- Sterile non-adhesive dressings
- Steri strips or other wound closure strips
- Sterile pads
- Adhesive medical tape
Bandages can be used for a range of first aid emergencies, including sprains, broken bones and soft tissue wounds.
There are different types of bandages to suit different circumstances. Rural schools and bush-based excursions should have a snake bite kit and snake bandage on hand in addition to the standard bandages.
Other essential bandages to include in your kit:
- Roller bandages – these can be used to hold a dressing in place, apply pressure on a wound dressing to help stop bleeding or support an injured limb.
- Triangular bandages – these are used to create a sling for an injured arm or to prevent movement for broken bones and soft tissue injuries.
3. Eye care
A saline eye wash solution and eye pads are essential for dealing with eye injuries and for washing out foreign particles in the eyes. Eye pads may need attaching to the face with adhesive medical tape.
4. Nitrile gloves
Sterile single use nitrile gloves should be used for any first aid situation where body fluids are involved such as open wounds. They reduce the risk of infection and ensure that the first aid equipment remains free of germs during application.
5. Wound cleaning
Keeping wounds clean will reduce the risk of infection and encourage the healing process. All wounds should be cleaned before the dressing is applied. Professional medical help should be called for wounds with foreign objects embedded deeply.
Simple grazes and cuts should be cleaned with clean, cool water. A thin layer of antibiotic cream or gel may be recommended in some cases to improve healing and reduce the risk of infection.
Wound cleaning items for your first aid kit include:
- Alcohol swabs
- Saline solution
- Antimicrobial or antibiotic cream
6. Ventolin inhaler
The school should have a first aid plan for children with asthma. This may include having a ventolin inhaler on site in case of an asthma attack. Ventolin inhalers and other asthma medication should be kept with asthma first aid information.
7. Burn treatment
Heat burns at school should be treated by running the affected site under cool water for 20 minutes. Burn gel may be applied to superficial wounds to provide relief of symptoms and to encourage healing. Burns that are deep or affect the face, hands or groin need urgent medical attention.
Science labs that handle dangerous chemicals should have an eye wash station and shower facilities to deal with chemical burns. To learn more about how to use an eyewash station, check out our blog here.
8. Insect sting and bite relief
Insect stings and bites can be treated with soothing gels and wound dressings if required.
9. Cold pack
Reusable ice packs can be kept in the freezer on site. Single use cold packs are ideal for excursion first aid kits or schools that don’t have an accessible freezer on site.
All first aid kits should have a range of essential tools including:
- Tweezers / splinter forceps
- Safety pins
- Notebook and pen
11. Resuscitation face mask and AED
A resuscitation mask can be used to provide mouth to mouth resuscitation if a person has lost consciousness. Mouth to mouth should be provided in addition to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
An automated external defibrillator (AED) should be kept on school grounds in an accessible location. The Zoll defibrillator comes with inbuilt instructions and can be operated by any adult, not just professional health providers.
12. First aid information
First aid kits should contain clear and easy to understand manuals to help the first responder provide the most accurate care.
Keep your first aid kit fully stocked
To be effective, first aid kits should be maintained and fully stocked at all times. Schools should have procedures in place to monitor the contents and order first aid kit refills when needed. Being prepared for any emergency could save a life.