Injuries and illnesses don't wait until it's convenient, and the last thing you want is to be unprepared when you wake up with a fever or your child falls off their bicycle. Having a well-stocked first aid kit can prevent last-minute pharmacy runs, reduce recovery time and even save lives. Are you not sure what supplies to keep around for medical emergencies? Start with these four essentials.

Some of the most important medical supplies to have on hand are medications. Pain relievers and fever-reducing medications are essential to deal with acute illnesses, while antibiotic ointment and burn spray can prevent mild injuries from turning into nasty infections. You should also keep a backup supply of any prescription medications your household members use on a routine basis in case you run out or can't get to a pharmacy.

Personal Protective Equipment
First aid saves lives, but it's important for everyone who delivers emergency care to protect themselves from harmful pathogens. Tending to bleeding wounds, infections or illnesses can expose you to bacteria and viruses that can make you very sick. Keep a supply of personal protective equipment, such as medical masks and examination gloves, such as those from Old South Trading Co., on hand at all times so that life-saving emergency care can be administered safely.

The humble bandage is one of the most useful and versatile tools in your first aid kit. Bandages protect wounds from contamination with bacteria or debris and help stop bleeding with gentle pressure. You can also use bandages to cover ointment applied to cysts and rashes. Remember to stock a variety of sizes and styles of bandages from small butterfly closures to large gauze pads. Make sure you have sterile wound wash and bandage tape on hand to more effectively treat wounds

Health Monitoring Devices
Monitoring a sick or injured person's vital signs is important for keeping them stable and providing first aid. A pulse oximeter is useful if someone in your household has contracted a respiratory illness because it lets you know when oxygen levels have dropped too low. Blood pressure monitors are useful for monitoring hypertension or alerting pregnant women to possible preeclampsia. Households with diabetic or hypoglycemic members should have blood sugar monitors on hand.

Once you have assembled a comprehensive first aid kit, remember to store your medical supplies in a cool, dry and easily accessible location. Hallway closets are a better choice than hot, steamy bathrooms or kitchens. Consider having a second kit to keep in the car and a smaller supply of essentials to carry with you in a purse, backpack or diaper bag.

Author's Bio: 

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her husky, Snowball.