Imagine this: an employee catches their foot on an uncovered cable at your workplace, crashing to the ground with a loud thud and a shout for help. They come dangerously close to a sharp object, leaving them with an open wound.
People start grabbing napkins out of panic, but no one seems to find a well-equipped first aid kit with gauze and bandages to stop the bleeding.
In a situation like this, the absence of a first-aid kit for bleeding cuts or minor injuries can lead to serious medical emergencies. Not only does this threaten the well-being of workers, but it also escalates compensation claims and increases a company’s expenses.
Having the right tools within reach, however, can make all the difference. Whether it’s a snake bite, a heart attack or a minor cut, a first aid kit in workplaces or public spaces saves a life. A bandage, an aspirin and even an ice pack might just be your ultimate lifeline.
Take charge of everyone’s safety in public with our step-by-step journey of first aid kits and the importance of taking first aid courses. Read on to learn more!
Getting Started: What is a First Aid Kit In Public Spaces?
A first aid kit in public spaces is a collection of medical equipment and supplies kept readily accessible to provide initial care and treatment for emergencies, illnesses and minor injuries. These kits are typically found in various public areas like workplaces, schools, parks, transportation hubs and recreational facilities, among others.
It serves as your first line of defence until professional medical help arrives.
Typically, first aid kits in public spaces are tailored to meet the specific needs and risks associated with the location or situation. Their contents can widely vary but may include items like scissors, tweezers, antiseptic solutions, bandages, adhesive tape and more.
For instance, a first aid kit in construction sites might contain an eyewash solution, while one in schools may have supplies for treating minor injuries and other items for child first aid.
Home First Aid Kits vs First Aid Kits in Public: What’s the Difference?
You might feel tempted to grab your home first aid kit for use in a public setting, like at a sports event, a park or in the office. While a well-equipped home emergency kit can be a valuable resource, its purpose and contents differ from a public first aid box. Here are their main differences:
Home First Aid Kits
A first aid kit at home consists of medical supplies kept in a household to provide initial care and treatment for common injuries that may occur in a household setting. They are specifically tailored to the health conditions and activities of one’s family.
Since they are mostly used within a familiar environment, they include over-the-counter medications, prescribed pills and medical supplies relevant to each family member.
First Aid Kits In Public Spaces
First aid kits in public spaces are designed for public use. They should cater to a diverse group of people who visit or work in a particular location like shopping malls, stadiums or offices. Their contents are also standardised by relevant authorities to ensure their effectiveness in addressing common emergencies.
Unlike home first aid kits, public first aid kits do not contain personal medications, ointments and creams. This is because it can lead to allergic reactions, potential misuse and adverse side effects, raising legal and liability issues in the process.
Benefits of a First Aid Kit In Public Spaces
Emergencies happen in the blink of an eye. You’re getting your work done, watching your child play at the park or resting your head on the train’s handrail after a long day’s work when you hear a scream. You rush to the source of the sound and find someone lying on the ground, injured and in pain.
Something can always go wrong in public. Here are the most important benefits of keeping a basic first aid kit in public spaces:
Gives Necessary Aid Before Medical Help Arrives
A first aid box in public is not meant to heal individuals who have sustained injuries fully, been in accidents or are dealing with medical conditions. Instead, its main purpose is to provide fundamental care to the affected person before ambulance services become available.
This is why it’s crucial to consider specialised training like a child first aid course to ensure you’re ready for any situation involving children, for example.
Remember, in an emergency, a delay of a few seconds can cause irreversible damage and even take a life in the worst cases. With a first aid kit at work, in schools or parks, you can lessen the severity of injuries and avoid complications down the line.
Stops Blood Loss Immediately
Injuries that involve bleeding can be particularly messy and life-threatening. Since a well-equipped first aid kit usually contains items like sterile gauze and adhesive bandages, you can minimise the risk of excessive blood loss and stabilise the injured person’s condition.
You only have so much blood in your body. This is why having the necessary supplies can be a lifesaver, improving someone’s chances of a full recovery.
Another important benefit of a first aid box in public spaces is its role in reducing the risk of infection. Bleeding cuts, burns and open wounds are vulnerable to bacterial contamination, causing serious issues like chronic pain and cellulitis when left untreated.
First aid kits are stocked with sterilised tools, disinfectants and antiseptic solutions. When you correctly use these items to treat a wound, you drastically reduce the chance of harmful bacteria entering the body.
What makes this infection-preventing aspect of a home first aid kit beneficial is it ensures that minor injuries don’t lead to fatal health issues.
It Is A Legal Requirement
National Safety Council reported that an employee is injured on the job every seven seconds. Workers trip on tangled wires, get struck by heavy machinery or sustain cuts from sharp office equipment like box cutters and letter openers.
This is why having a first aid box in workplaces is required across all industries. In the event of an emergency, employees are better equipped to handle workplace injury and minimise the impact of accidents, especially in high-risk areas.
Additionally, providing employees with occupational first aid training is equally important, helping them respond effectively in critical situations.
First Aid Kit Checklist In Public Spaces
Now that we’ve covered the basics of first aid kits in public spaces and their benefits, it’s time to delve into the first aid essentials you need. Understanding how these components will serve people in times of need is crucial in preparing for any emergency.
Here are the must-have items that should find a place in a public emergency kit:
Buying pre-filled first-aid kits is an ideal option, but if you’re planning to customise your kit, you can opt for an empty container. Keep in mind that the container you choose will influence the kit’s accessibility, versatility and convenience, so pick wisely.
Here are the factors to consider when selecting a container kit for public spaces:
When choosing a container, make sure that it can comfortably accommodate all the first aid supplies you plan to include in your kit. It should be large enough to fit everything you need without being excessively heavy or difficult to carry to the location of an emergency.
On the other hand, using a too-compact kit may not fit all the essentials, reducing its effectiveness in emergencies.
In a workplace setting, consider the number of employees and the potential injuries that may arise to make sure you get the right size. Larger companies may require more extensive kits, so opt for a container that can adequately hold supplies for each worker. Just remember to strike the right balance between capacity and convenience!
Another factor you need to consider is the container’s durability. It is crucial in protecting your first aid supplies from moisture, damage and other external elements.
You can go with metal, hard plastic or water-resistant fabric since they offer protection from impact and water damage. A solidly constructed plastic toolbox is a good example of this, especially if you’re budget-conscious.
To keep your supplies organised and easily accessible, we highly recommend using a container with multiple compartments, pockets or dividers. These features allow you to categorise items like medications and bandages, helping you quickly find what you need in a high-stress situation.
You can reuse an old backpack or buy a first-aid bag like this:
Their built-in pockets and divisions can be quite useful in creating a well-organised and portable first-aid kit for situations where you need to be on the go.
Bandages and Cleaning Supplies
A first aid kit in public spaces like offices or schools should assist in wound care and prevent infection. Make sure you have a variety of bandages such as plasters, adhesive strips, adhesive tape and sterile gauze pads to cover and protect wounds of all sizes.
Don’t forget to include an aluminium splint to offer stability to injured or sprained limbs and athletic tape to protect tender joints.
Cleaning supplies should also be included. Antibacterial soap, hydrogen peroxide, antiseptic wipes and rubbing alcohol are important for disinfecting wounds before dressing them. Make sure that you add hypoallergenic cleaning solutions for people with allergies or sensitivities.
Aside from bandages and cleaning supplies, tools like tweezers, scissors and disposable gloves should be in the kit. You’ll need scissors to cut bandages, gauze or clothing if necessary. Tweezers can be used to get rid of splinters or foreign objects from wounds, while disposable gloves help maintain a sterile environment during a first aid procedure.
First Aid Blankets
Often referred to as emergency or space blankets, first aid blankets are important in public settings. They are designed to provide thermal insulation, retain body heat and prevent hypothermia which is a huge risk in accidents and natural disasters.
They can also be used to manage shock from traumatic injuries. For example, if a public vehicle is involved in a collision, a first aid blanket can be used to provide warmth and stabilise the condition of injured passengers. This can be a critical tool in helping people until ambulance services arrive.
Automated External Defibrillator (AED)
Image source: ResearchGate
An automated external defibrillator (AED) is designed to deliver an electric shock to the heart and help it re-establish a normal rhythm.
AEDs are also user-friendly, with features such as visual prompts, integrated CPR coaching and remote monitoring. You don’t have to be a medical professional to operate one effectively.
However, we still highly recommend that you sign up for training in basic cardiac life Support (BCLS) + AED. This will teach you how to recognise and manage heart attacks to increase the chances of a positive outcome.
Ensure that personal protective equipment like protective gloves and CPR masks is also in the kit to protect everyone’s health and safety.
First Aid Manual
There’s an often overlooked but invaluable item to first aid kits: a first aid manual. Having a manual on hand can educate you and others in public on how to properly administer first aid. They offer guidance on what to do in high-stress situations where it can be easy to forget the first aid steps.
A child first aid manual should also be included to address child-related injuries or accidents, as the treatment of children can differ significantly from that of adults.
Emergency Contact Information
Include a list of emergency phone numbers for doctors, dentists, clinics, local hospitals and family contacts. Having this information readily available can save a life in emergencies.
You can write this information on a simple card and place it in a waterproof container within the first aid box. It’s also a great idea to place additional copies on the bulletin board or any location where it’s accessible to everyone.
Making an Effective First Aid Kit In Public Spaces: Tips To Consider
Assembling a first aid kit at schools, in offices or public transportation can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re used to buying something pre-made from a drugstore.
Aside from the fear of overlooking important items, where do you find the extra time to gather the necessary supplies on your own? How do you make sure the kit can truly help everyone in times of emergency?
Going the do-it-yourself route in customising a public emergency kit doesn’t always have to be complicated. To help you get started, here are the most important tips you should consider:
Identify The Specific Needs of the Location
It’s tempting to buy every medical supply for a public first aid box to make sure you don’t miss anything important. Because when you consider everything you have to be prepared for, the possibilities may seem endless.
We recommend that you identify the specific needs of the location to ensure that the kit is well-suited to address specific risks.
Let’s say you’re creating an emergency kit for your office. To make sure you meet first aid kit workplace requirements, you should conduct an assessment. You must consider factors like hazards in the workplace, the nature of the work, the number of employees and the company’s accident history.
You can tailor the kit’s contents depending on your workplace’s category, mainly:
Low-Risk Working Environments
A low-risk working environment refers to a workplace where the likelihood of employees suffering from accidents or injuries is low. This includes commercial establishments like convenience stores, coffee shops, offices, bars and restaurants.
Here is an example of a low-risk first-aid kit checklist:
- A first aid manual
- Variously sized sterile plasters
- Sterile triangular bandages
- Disposable protective gloves
- Safety pins
- Sterile eye pads
- Dressings for wounds and burns.
High-Risk Working Environments
High-risk working environments are workplaces where employees are exposed to dangers, potential hazards and risks that can lead to serious injuries or illnesses. This may include construction sites, mining operations, manufacturing and aviation, to name a few.
Because each high-risk setting presents its own unique hazards, the contents of a high-risk first aid kit should include additional items beyond the basic supplies. For example, if you’re in the construction industry, first aid kits must include:
- Finger bandages
- Saline eyewash capsules
- Foil blankets
- Alcohol-based disinfectant
- Tourniquets for severe bleeding
- Clothing cutters
- Clinical waste bags
Moreover, for companies with more than 500 employees in the workplace, a first-aid room is required for workplace safety. This is where industrial paramedicine solutions come into play. You can have professional paramedics managing first aid stations, ambulance standby, medical centre management and more.
Make Sure The First Aid Kit Is Accessible
Ensure that the public emergency kit is easily reachable and stored safely. When someone at work gets injured, the last thing you need is everyone searching for the kit stashed away in a junk drawer or misplaced because it wasn’t placed back in its assigned spot.
To avoid this, create a clearly defined location. You can use first aid signs to show the location of first aid rooms and kits. Make sure that these signs are also stated in emergency floor plans.
Image source: Worksafe
Clearly Label All Items
When your items are clearly labelled, it’s easy for anyone to identify the contents of the kit without confusion. This is especially important during an emergency when time is crucial.
Labelling also prevents the accidental use of the wrong item. Imagine someone grabbing items randomly due to inadequate labelling—a dangerous mistake that can potentially take a life.
Take the extra time to grab a masking tape and a permanent marker to clearly state the item’s name. Make sure that you label child-specific items to differentiate them from those for adults. Taking a child first aid course will help you understand age-appropriate materials.
Regularly Restock First Aid Kits
Designate someone in your workplace, possibly a trained first aider, to oversee the contents of first aid kits. The person assigned should promptly replace any items used and conduct a thorough inspection to confirm the kit contains all necessary supplies.
Keeping an inventory list might also help. This allows them to check that all items are functional, within their expiration dates and sterile products remain sealed.
Consider Adding Emergency Eyewash Equipment
If workers are at risk of getting splashed in the eye with chemicals, you may consider adding fixed or portable eyewash stations in the workplace.
Image source: Bassett Mechanical
OSHA guidelines advise that emergency eye wash stations are placed within a 10-second walking distance (about 55 feet) where employees may encounter hazardous materials. These stations should be marked with visible signage and readily accessible.
Learn First Aid
No matter how comprehensive a first aid kit is, it will be pointless if you don’t know how to use it. Medical supplies, bandages and portable machines won’t save lives if you have no training in treating yourself or others.
You might argue that applying a Band-Aid or cleaning a wound requires no training. While it may be true, basic first aid skills go beyond these simple tasks. In life-threatening situations like fractures, severe bleeding and cardiac arrests, knowing what to do can make a difference.
Lots of first aid courses are designed for anyone with zero experience and trained medical professionals. These include:
- Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) + AED
- Occupational First Aid (OFA) + AED Course
- First Aid Awareness
- Child First Aid Course
These courses will not only teach you how to use the contents of your first aid kit, but they will also improve your general understanding of healthcare. Topics may include the chain of survival, burn injuries, unconscious casualty and other first aid knowledge.
Life has a way of throwing curveballs that none of us is prepared for, and accidents or medical emergencies can happen at any time. Having a first aid kit in public spaces won’t magically shield you from these situations, but it can truly make a difference in how you handle these critical moments.
Assembling a first aid box—and even buying a pre-made one—is a small step you can take to create a sense of security for your community.
Just remember that a first aid kit is only as effective as the person using it. You should know the contents, take first aid courses, and if you work at schools, enrol in a child first aid course to enhance your readiness. Reading a first-aid guide in your free time can also teach you how to respond to common injuries.
You can never predict the future, but you can certainly prepare for it. Here at Medlink, we encourage you to be proactive in safeguarding the health and safety of those around you. Be ready and be informed—we’re here to lend a helping hand. Enrol in a first aid course now!
Where can I buy a first aid kit in Singapore?
You can buy a first aid kit in Singapore from various sources, such as pharmacies, medical supply stores and safety equipment suppliers.
Where should first aid kits be located?
First aid kits should be located in easily accessible and identifiable places to ensure they are within reach in case of an emergency. For example, in schools and educational institutions, they must be placed in classrooms, gyms and laboratories.