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10 Things to Have in Your Home for Emergencies

The Martha Stewart Show, May 2008

Whether you live alone or have young kids running around the house, chances are at some point a mishap may occur. Anytime there's an accident, it's helpful to have a few items on hand. Just remember: If there is ever a question about the severity of your accident, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

1. Elastic Bandages
Use elastic bandages for wrapping sprained or strained joints, wrapping gauze onto wounds, or wrapping on splints. Use the RICE mnemonic: Rest the affected area immediately. Ice the area to decrease swelling, especially during the first 24 to 72 hours after the injury. Compress with elastic bandage in figure eights. Elevate the sprained area above the level of the heart. And of course, seek medical attention if the pain or swelling is severe.

2. Bag of Frozen Peas
A bag of peas acts as an ice pack; it is very malleable and can conform to any body part.

3. Neosporin
Use Neosporin for cuts and scrapes. Wash any cuts or scrapes with soap and water, and use Neosporin to help prevent infection of minor cuts and scrapes; apply a thin layer to affected skin and rub gently.

4. Tweezers
Use tweezers for removing splinters, stingers, or ticks. If you're removing a tick, grip the tick as close to the skin as possible. The use of a smoldering match, nail polish, Vaseline, or kerosene should be avoided, since they may irritate the tick and cause it to behave like a syringe, injecting organism-bearing bodily fluids into the wound.

5. Credit Card or Library Card
Use the cards for scraping off the stinger from a wasp, bee, or hornet sting.

6. Aspirin
Mixed with water, aspirin creates a paste. Apply this paste to insect bites to help relieve inflammation. If you think you may be having a heart attack, call 911. But something you can do immediately is take one tablet -- it helps prevent the formation of blood clots.

7. Oral Antihistamines
Use antihistamines for more serious allergic reactions such as a food allergy, plant allergy, or hives. Call 911 if you experience swelling in the face, lips, tongue, or throat, or if you feel that your breathing is compromised in any way. Avoid alcohol and driving or operating heavy machinery. The elderly should use with caution.

8. Candy
Use candy for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which usually occurs in individuals who have diabetes when there is too little glucose in the blood. A person may feel sweaty, clammy, and diaphoretic. A quick fix: Eat food containing sugar, such as fruit juice, honey, candy, or just sugar in water. For anyone who skips a meal or who may be fasting, if you get lightheaded or weak, try consuming one of these things.

9. Colloidal Oatmeal
Aveeno skin relief bath treatment has colloidal oatmeal in it, which dries up oozing blisters from plant irritations. Colloidal simply means the oatmeal has been ground to a powder that will remain suspended in water. Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac are three plants that can cause a reaction on the skin of sensitive people. An oily substance on the plants causes the irritation. Apply colloidal oatmeal with a cloth to blisters or put it into a bath. This is a long-recognized ingredient that relieves itching; it can also be used for eczema, insect bites, and rashes.

10. Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol
Apply rubbing alcohol to your ear to remove water that may have entered the ear during swimming or showering. By applying to a cotton ball, it will help to evaporate the water trapped inside the ear.

Special Thanks
Special thanks to Darcie De Milt, a nurse practitioner from Mount Sinai Medical Center, for sharing this valuable information.

Comments (2)

  • 21 May, 2008

    Regarding #5 above, if you are stung by a jellyfish at the beach, this technique also helps somewhat. Even better is to use a razor to shave over the stung area.

  • 8 May, 2008

    Thank you so much for honoring nurses on your show today. This importand list of ten item for emergencies is extremely important for everyone to know about to protect their families.