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Sports First Aid Kit: Are You Prepared?

Louise Roach -- It pays to create your own customized sports first aid kit that fits your active life.

Do you have an active family? Are your kids involved in soccer or little league? What sports are high on your priority list running, golf, tennis?

American Sports Data, Inc. estimates:
-- 50.6 million people over the age of 6 exercise frequently, participating in single activities (running, cycling, treadmill)
-- 39.9 million participate in recreational sports (basketball, tennis, softball)
-- 15.3 million people are active outdoors (hiking, mountain biking, skiing)
-- 3.2 million players are registered with the U.S. Youth Soccer Association

If you pound the pavement, swing the club, or bat the ball, there is always the chance for injury. Is your family prepared with a sports first aid kit that meets your needs? Many commercially packaged first aid kits contain basic supplies. Sure, they might offer limited help for simple emergencies. But is your first aid kit prepared to handle your child's rugby injuries or treat a sprained ankle on the soccer field? How about your knee pain after a marathon?

The answer is to create your own customized kit that fits your family's sports first aid needs. Chances are you already have many of the necessary supplies on hand.

Here's how you get started with your own specialized first aid kit.

1. Evaluate your needs by the type of sports your family participates in. Is there the likelihood of bumps, cuts, and bruising that might occur in contact team sports? Or are overuse injuries more prevalent such as runner's knee, golfer's tendonitis, or tennis elbow?

2. Decide what supplies best fit the type of injuries you have described, such as bandages and ointment for cuts; ice pack for pain and swelling; sunscreen for sun burn.

3. Find a roomy, insulated tote to carry your supplies. Why an insulated carrier rather than one of those little, plastic boxes that most first aid kits come in? Because you need to carry at least one, preferably two frozen, reusable ice packs in your sports first aid kit.

Most kits only contain an instant, one-time-use, chemical ice pack. This is usually not sufficient to numb pain or reduce swelling. The best and most effective treatment for many injuries is to immediately apply a frozen ice pack for several 15 to 20 minute sessions. This will help lessen pain, reduce swelling, and treat bruising. And an insulated tote will keep your ice packs cold for several hours.

What to include.

Here is a list of suggested supplies to include in your family's sports first aid kit:

-- Information: First aid guide or manual;

-- General: Matches, scissors, travel toilet paper, anti-diarrheal, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, needle (for splinters), thermometer, safety pins, flashlight, disposable gloves, mouthpiece (in case of using CPR), blanket, plastic zip-lock bags (to keep supplies dry), tissues;

-- Emergencies: Cell phone, whistle, personal alarm, pepper spray, emergency phone numbers, maps (with directions to nearest first aid);

-- Pain and swelling: Cold pack, ibuprofen;

-- For cuts, scrapes, blisters: Bandages of different sizes, antibiotic cream or hydrocortisone cream, mole skin dressing kit, sterile gauze, adhesive tape, antiseptic solution, non-stick gauze pads;

-- Sun protection/heat exhaustion: Misting water bottle, cold pack, sunscreen, lip balm, aloe vera lotion;

-- Fractures, strains, sprains, pulled muscles: Neoprene joint braces, compression bandage/ice wrap, cold pack, two triangle shaped pieces of cloth for a sling or tourniquet;

-- Dehydration: Filled water bottle, sports drink;

-- Allergic Reactions: Calamine lotion, epinephrine (for bee stings), antihistamine, recommended medications;

-- Insect Bites: Epinephrine (for bee stings), insect repellent, cold pack (reduces swelling of bug bites).

Assemble your supplies and customize your family sports first aid kit for each event or outing.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical treatment or consultation. Always consult with your physician in the event of a serious injury.

Louise Roach is a health and fitness editor, marketing specialist, and product development consultant. She helps others find pain relief through the use of SnowPack Cold Therapy products. Learn more about the benefits of cold therapy at http://www.snowpackusa.com. For a FREE health/fitness e-newsletter, sign up at: http://home.netcom.com/~newsflash.

© 2005 Louise Roach

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The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect those of College Central Network, Inc. or its affiliates. Reference to any company, organization, product, or service does not constitute endorsement by College Central Network, Inc., its affiliates or associated companies. The information provided is not intended to replace the advice or guidance of your legal or medical professional.