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Be prepared for the most common illnesses and injuries.

It is said that luck favors the prepared. So when it comes to first aid in the home—be prepared with a stocked medicine cabinet. If you do need to treat an illness or injury, you will have all the basics on hand to help yourself or others.

Before you head to the drugstore, take an inventory of your medicine cabinet and what’s currently on your shelves. Make a habit of checking your medicine cabinet every three months to throw away or replace any expired products. That way, the next time you have a sudden tummy ache, you won’t have to worry about how long that bottle of pink liquid has been there.

Remember: Always follow dosage instructions as indicated on medication packaging.

Here are 10 things to have on hand at all times.

  1. Emergency instructions. Tape a list of important phone numbers (doctors, Poison Control), medication instructions and allergy alerts inside the cabinet door.
     
  2. Acetaminophen and an NSAID. Acetaminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce inflammation related to conditions like backaches and toothaches. Be aware of NSAID sensitivity in your family, especially in young children.
     
  3. Aspirin. Aspirin works as a pain reliever, but it’s also important to have on hand in case of emergencies. According to the American Heart Association, taking aspirin also helps during a heart attack. In fact, people having a heart attack are often given an aspirin by emergency medical services. Be aware of aspirin sensitivity in your family, especially in young children.
     
  4. Antihistamine. This treats hives and itching caused by just about anything. Stock both oral antihistamines (the liquid form that may be helpful during a serious allergic reaction) and hydrocortisone cream.
     
  5. Decongestant, cough suppressant and flu relief medicine. You won’t want to leave home to go to the drugstore when you’re feeling lousy, so keep cold and flu relief medication on hand.
     
  6. Antacids. If you are suffering from heartburn, these are your best bet for quick relief.
     
  7. Antibiotic ointment. Apply this after you’ve washed cuts and scrapes with warm water and soap, then cover the wound with clean bandages.
     
  8. Bandages. Stock up on adhesive bandages of all sizes, plus plenty of gauze and sterile tape.
     
  9. Thermometer. Feeling someone’s forehead may be a good first step, but a thermometer is necessary for an accurate temperature reading.
     
  10. Heat and ice packs. Keep several of these on hand, as they can provide relief for everything from headaches and sprains to injuries and sore muscles.
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