Going to the beach is one of the best things about summer. Whether it’s the ocean or a lake, it’s fun to swim and soak in the rays (with copious amounts of sunscreen, of course). But emergencies can arise anywhere, especially if you’ve got a crew of active kids with you, so it’s nice to be prepared for anything … just in case!
I tend to lean on the side of bringing everything except the kitchen sink in my bag. But that changes depending on how far away I am from home or a medical clinic. If you’re camping at the lake, you need a more complete kit than if you live just around the corner from the ocean.
Let’s start with a well-stocked first aid kit. Here’s what you need to cover the most basic of emergencies.
Essentials for a Well-Stocked First Aid Kit
Here is what I keep in my first aid kit:
- Sturdy case: a waterproof one is even better, but you can store your gear in a resealable bag to keep sand and water out of it
- Gloves: you never know if you might need them!
- Calamine lotion for bug bites or itchy rashes
- Hand sanitizer: store-bought or homemade
- Instant Ice Pack for bumps and bruises, sprains or anything that needs to be iced
- Bug bite stick
- Tea tree oil: antiseptic, germ-fighting properties (be careful using it on children, dilute first to avoid irritation, and never use internally)
- Adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
- Gauze pads in assorted sizes
- Travel-size bottle of Castile soap
- Ointments and creams: hydrocortisone, bacitracin and triple-antibiotic cream
- Cotton balls and swabs
- Scissors, tweezers and nail clippers
- Pain medicine: pills for adults, liquid for kids (make sure to have a way to measure it)
- Tape and non-adhesive bandages
- Butterfly closures for cuts
- Alcohol wipes
I know, it seems like a lot! But put the kit together once and then all you have to do is keep it handy. A few years ago I went to the beach in Hawaii totally unprepared, and my husband got a serious coral cut requiring numerous stitches. From then on, I have always been prepared. It’s like Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And especially if I have my kids with me, I’m going to be as prepared as I can.
10 Beach Bag Essentials
In addition to my first aid kit, I add a few other essentials when we’re heading out for a day in the sun. Here’s what I keep in my beach bag:
- Aloe vera gel: for sunburns, it’s nice to apply it as soon as possible (on the car ride home even)
- Extra sunscreen: the spray kind is super easy to apply to wiggly children who hate getting out of the water for very long
- Baby powder: really good for dusting on the skin to make it easier to brush away sand
- Pain relieving spray
- Baking soda: good to apply to bee or wasp stings
- Lip balm with sunscreen: your lips can get severely sunburned too!
- Thermometer: just in case, heat stroke and exhaustion are nothing to mess around with
- Insect repellant: I prefer an all-natural homemade kind
- Medicine for motion sickness: great for car and boat rides
- A bottle of clean water: in addition to plenty of drinking water, this is for rinsing when fresh water isn’t available
Other things that might come in handy depending on your situation and location:
- Ear drops for swimmer’s ear
- Saline for sand in the eyes, especially if you have contacts (the plain water above will also work)
- Pepto Bismol, antacids, or other medicine for tummy troubles
- Epi-Pen for severe allergic reactions, if needed
- First Aid Manual
- Hygiene products
- Pack of baby wipes and extra diapers
- Small bottle of hydrogen peroxide for cuts and scrapes to prevent infection
Well, that about covers it. Anything I’ve forgotten?