College First Aid

Pack a first aid kit for college, even if your child thinks it's overkill!

Packing a first aid kit is important — whether you’re traveling to a foreign land, or headed off to the dorm for your home-away-from home.

Earlier this summer our oldest went off to college for a five-week program to prepare in advance for the coming fall. While he’s been away from home for short periods of time, it was usually with another family member or family friend. This was the first time he’d be away from home for a long time on his own and responsible for his own well-being. Being the nervous mom that I am, I decided to put together a first aid kit.

Of course there was the “study hard” and “be careful who you choose as friends” discussions, along with the don’t drink or do drugs and the rehashing of the “sex” talk. But, all of this was followed up by, “you’re 18 and in control of your own health now” talk. He looked at me with a quirky smile and said, “But I don’t even know my doctors’ names!” Ah, the health talk had to be had.

So, I packed a first aid kit:

  • his prescription medicine
  • thermometer
  • bandages and bandaids
  • ibuprofen
  • Benadryl
  • Tums
  • sore throat spray and cough drops
  • tissues
  • tweezers
  • eye-glass repair kit
  • triple-antibiotic cream
  • sunscreen
  • toothache gel
  • heat/ice pack

Along with all this was a listing that included the name and telephone number of all of his physicians and local pharmacy where his prescriptions should be called in to, our insurance information, as well as what he’s allergic to, his blood type and our emergency contact information. Finally, I threw in a basic first aid book.

He of course thought this was overkill, but I told him to take it anyway. Two weeks in, he called me. “Mom, I have some sort of rash and it’s really itchy. It might be bed-bugs.” I asked if he’d tried taking any Benadryl to which he of course answered, “no.” So, he took it and felt better, but then called his doctor because it didn’t go away. He also spoke with the resident dorm assistant. Turns out it was poison ivy, not bed-bugs. But, just to be sure, the school put bed-bug traps in his room (thankfully, none were found!) and the medicine his doctor prescribed cured him.

Now, of course I’ll be adding calamine lotion to his kit. I’ll also be beefing up things by adding a repair kit for his bike in case it breaks down on a trail or on the way to class. I’ve found that it’s important to think through not only what you use at home for illness and injury, but also to think about what activities your child might get involved in. If it’s active sports or anything where injury is a potential, be sure they have the tools to deal with it, because for sure, they are not thinking about anything going wrong. Here’s to their being right!

For further information about putting together or buying a first aid kit:
University of Pittsburgh

Dorm Smart

Moms Who Think


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