We all know that first aid kits are a crucial component of ensuring that you’re prepared for an emergency, from life-threatening to a scraped knee. But, what’s the point of having a well-stocked first aid kit if the contents inside aren’t functioning properly?
The truth is that indeed, first aid kits expire. Here’s why:
The products that are normally used in first aid kits expire typically 3-5 years after manufacture. That said, certain medical supplies may need to be replaced more often, due to earlier expiry, damage, contamination, etc.
All medications have an expiration date. Over time, many medications simply lose their effectiveness, however, some medicines become harmful to ingest after they expire.
All medications should be disposed of responsibly. Please visit the Government of Canada for more information.
Gloves are a crucial piece of PPE in an emergency situation. Latex degrades over time, which makes an already delicate material more prone to ripping and less likely to offer adequate protection.
Believe it or not, bandages expire!
Adhesive bandages lose their ability to adhere over time, which doesn’t make them super helpful. In addition, both adhesive and non-adhesive bandages lose sterility.
Wound Cleaning Supplies
Wound cleaning supplies (such as wipes) are sterile, but this sterility eventually deteriorates. They can also dry out, rendering them completely ineffective in an emergency.
Similar to adhesive bandages, tape loses its adhesion over a certain period of time.
If you’re wondering where you need to have a first aid kit, we can help!
What Can I Do?
Inspect Your First Aid Kit Regularly
With the knowledge that first aid kits do in fact expire, it’s important to check your kit at least once a year. Your inspection should include:
The First Aid Kit Itself
Clean any dust, dirt, or debris off the exterior of the first aid kit. Depending on the material, you’ll want to make sure that it seals properly and is free of dents, rips, holes, etc.
Inspecting each individual item in the first aid kit is key:
- Remove each medical supply from the kit and lay it on a clean surface
- Check the expiration dates (usually found on the product label). If an item is expired, set it aside to be disposed of and replaced.
- Ensure products are free from damage, tears, stains, discoloration, mildew, etc.
- Examine all tools (i.e. scissors, tweezers, etc). Tools do not expire, however, they can become contaminated or rusty if not stored or sterilized properly.
It’s important to note that the rate of degradation could be higher in environments where the first aid kit is exposed to extreme heat or cold or humidity. For example, if you keep a first aid kit in your car (which we hope you do!), we recommend inspecting it more often.
You’ll want to replace any items that you disposed of during your inspection. A good rule of thumb is to keep a list of items in your first aid kit to track inventory – this way, you can be confident in knowing that your kit is always appropriately stocked!
Great news! If you are in Calgary, Alberta or surrounding areas we have a new ‘first aid kit inspection’ service. With this service we will come to your site and check each of your first aid kits, replacing any items that need replacing. Contact us for more information.