By Cindy Aldrige, F.N.P., Provider for Lee’s Summit Physicians Group
There are many things that you might not think of as helpful to have on hand at home, but for your overall health they are important and might be life saving.
Benadryl (diphenhydramine) – always have Benadryl on hand for an unexpected allergic reaction or bee sting. It can help reduce inflammation and itching.
Neosporin – is an OTC antibiotic ointment that can be used for minor scratches and sores for the first 24-48 hours after an incident.
Vasoline to help with extremely dry patches of skin without the fragrance and chemicals of expensive lotions.
Bandaids – all sizes, you never know what might be happen, always be prepared.
Monistat Cream – it will treat any fungal infection like vaginal yeast, ringworm, jock itch, and athlete’s foot.
Tylenol (acetaminophen), Ibuprofen (motrin), Aleve (naproxen) – each works just a bit differently for aches and pains. If one is not working for you, the other types may work better.
Tums – for those times when food has caused acid reflux/heartburn.
Avoid peroxide – it’s good for getting stains out of light color clothing, but don’t use it on wounds. It can prevent wound healing.
Thermometer – you need to know how serious your illness is. If you have a fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, you should not be going to work/school/public places until your fever has been gone for a minimum of 24 hours. Check with your health care provider for further direction.
Sunscreen – make sure it isn’t expired! Expired sunscreen can cause a rash and not work. I get new sunscreen in the spring every year and use a sharpie to put the date on it. My goal is to use it up before end of year. If it’s still there next spring, it gets thrown in the trash depending on the expiration date. (If there is an expiration date… some sunscreens don’t have an expiration date.)
Blood Pressure cuff for those over 40 – Let’s face it, there are effects of aging even if you’re in perfect health. Checking your blood pressure occasionally, in between your annual physicals is best. Arm cuffs are more accurate than the wrist versions in my experience.
Pulse Oximeter (pulse ox) – not mandatory, but they’re a nice tool to determine if breathing is severe/worsening. (Any time you feel shortness of breath, you should seek medical attention regardless of what the pulse ox shows.) Some smart phones have this capability built into them.
Ace Wraps – for injured extremities or for swelling
Ice Pack!!! – This is a must. Ice is good for swelling, but remember to put ice on a towel for 20 minute intervals. Never put ice directly on skin.
Heat Pack/Heating Pad – heat can cause bad burns. If using a heating pad, make sure it’s a newer one that has a timer for automatic shut off after a certain period of time. I seldom use heat for patients, but some find it helps with chronic conditions.
Flashlight (with back up batteries) – not only fun to play tag in the dark with outside, but also very important in the event of power outages.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detector – this can save lives. Make sure you have one installed outside of bedrooms, one on every level of the home, near attached garages and placed as the manufacturer recommends. You can contact your local fire department for further information and placement.
Smoke Detectors – don’t take the batteries out because you burn some food! Smoke detectors can also sense heat, so depending on the style and brand, they may be placed in different areas. Local fire departments are trained in specifics and if asked, will help you determine the best placement for the type of smoke detector you have. There area building codes for your area that also make placement recommendations based on safety research.
Fire Extinguisher – make sure you know what type to use. Make sure you know HOW to use a fire extinguisher. (Aim at the base of a fire, not up in air.) Follow the instructions on manufacturing labeling for these products.
Fire Evacuation Plan – every member of the home must know multiple ways to get out of the house and where to meet in the event of a fire. Get low and crawl if smoke fills the home, sleep with bedroom doors closed, and if you suspect a fire, feel the door before opening it – if it’s hot, go in a different direction. Local fire safety classes will give you more information.
Weather Alert Radio – you can set tune these to be as broad or as specific as you want for your area. In a power outage, this can keep you updated on local weather and hazards.
As I’m thinking of keeping your home safe, I could go on and on. The above are basic tools each home should have to stay healthy. I’m sure you can think of others I’ve missed, but reflecting back on my Emergency Room days and working on an ambulance, these are the first to come to mind.
I’ve done a fall risk blog in the past… you can go to this link for other safety ideas in the home. Be prepared and stay safe out there!