When did you buy or put together your first aid kit? Have you taken a look recently to see what’s expired? I just took a look at my wife’s car first aid kit, and tossed about 90% of the items and replaced them! Expiration dates going back to 2004 (!!!) means this check out was way, way past due. Grab your first aid kits and go through each item and see if you need replace anything inside. Below is a brief guide for what to look for.
What to replace in your first aid kit based on expiration date:
Here’s a quick list of items to check the expiration dates on and replace if expired:
- Adhesive bandages – Time and heat will cause the adhesive to no longer stick. Adhesive bandages left in hot areas may lose the adhesive properties earlier than the expiration date. If they’re a year away from expiration, or there is no expiration date on them, you will want to open one out and give it a try on yourself. If it doesn’t stick or doesn’t stick well, replace them all.
- Medication – Sunlight and heat are the culprits here which cause them to become less effective. First aid kits left in your car (you have one, right?) often get very hot during Summer months (and here in Florida, every month is Summer!). While ibuprofen and other medications that are under one (1) year past expiration won’t hurt you, they are less effective. You should definitely replace any tablet medication that’s over two (2) years past expiration or any liquid medication past expiration, especially if its been stored in a hot car.
- Ointments – Just like medication, it can break down and become less effective. I’ve found older tubes start to break down, and ointments in single-use “tear packages” may start to leak through the packaging. If it’s past expiration, time to replace.
- Rinses and fluids – These don’t like heat, and the bottles may become brittle. Replace when past the expiration date, especially if partially used. Check for brittle bottles; they’ll break and make a big mess, most likely ruining other first aid supplies in the area!
- Alcohol and antiseptic wipes – Even in their sealed tear-away containers, heat will cause the liquids within to evaporate and eventually work out of an otherwise-sealed envelope. The alcohol won’t go bad; the expiration date is when there might not be enough left. If it’s past expiration, just replace them. No expiration dates? Open one as a sample to see how it is; if the wipe is dry or nearly so, replace the entire batch.
What to replace in your first aid kit based on testing and/or examination:
Some items may not need to be replaced, just checked out to ensure they are still good:
- Gauze pads and rolls – If they’re still sealed, odds are they’re still good. Check for damage to the paper envelopes, and maybe open one up for a check. Wet or damaged envelopes will have lost any sterility they had, so replace.
- Paper or Breathable Plastic Tapes – Peel off one full wrap around of the tape to expose the tape underneath. Does it have good color? Did it leave behind any residue on the tape? Is the adhesive still good? Replaced if the color is bad, leaves residue, or doesn’t stick.
- Elastic wraps and braces – Check for elasticity and damage. Replace if the elasticity is bad or the wrap or brace is damaged.
- Latex gloves – These should be in a watertight resealable bag, so check for holes and any issues with elasticity.
What to replace in your first aid kit based on damage:
And finally, these items probably don’t need to be replaced unless they’re damaged:
- Splints, tourniquets, etc.
- Emergency blankets (unused)
- Snap-lights (unused)
While you’re checking out your first aid kits, it is also a good time to review any emergency preparedness checklists. Make sure you’re ready when, not if, the emergency occurs.
Take a look at other EDC/PREPARED articles such as our review of the Lifeline 30-Piece First Aid Kit and the Gerber Shard everyday carry (EDC) pocket tool. Also, check out the unboxing and review videos here! Bookmark the blog and subscribe to our YouTube channel for updates!