Most farms and ranches require multiple first aid kits due to the many types of jobs and the dispersed areas of work in a production agriculture operation. Not only is it important to have appropriate first aid kits on your farm or ranch, it is important that you and others in your operation understand basic first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
First Aid Kits
(First aid kit. Source: Pennsylvania State University. Agricultural Safety and Health)
Accidents on farms and ranches can be quite severe, and space in a first aid kit is limited, so it is important to choose items for kits wisely. Follow these guidelines when assembling a first aid kit:
- Include pertinent personal information in first aid kits for individuals who have specific medical conditions. For example, indicate that a certain person has an allergic reaction to bee stings.
- Include the contact information for the family doctor of each person working in the vicinity of the kit.
- Remember that agricultural incidents may occur at night or in winter, so include items such as flares, flashlights, emergency blankets, and waterproof matches.
- In an emergency situation, it is common for people to forget what they have learned in first aid classes, so include a first aid manual in each kit.
- For the kits, use containers that are dust-free and water-resistant. Label the kits clearly.
Check first aid kits annually for expired products such as ice packs, heat packs, ointments, saline solution, and so on, and change the flashlight batteries. When you use any items in a first aid kit, replace the items immediately.
Larger first aid kits should be located at main farm or ranch buildings or in the home. Smaller first aid kits should be kept on major pieces of farm equipment and in vehicles.
The following items should be included in a large first aid kit:
- Sterile first aid dressings in sealed envelopes, in the following sizes:
- 2 in. by 2 in. for small wounds
- 4 in. by 4 in. for larger wounds and for compresses to stop bleeding
- Two trauma dressings for covering large areas
- Small, sterile adhesive compresses in sealed envelopes
- Roller bandages and 1 in., 2 in., and 6 in. cling bandages
- Rolls of adhesive tape in assorted widths (to hold dressings in place)
- Triangle bandages to use as slings or as coverings over large dressings
- Antiseptic wash
- Tongue depressors
- Bandage scissors and heavy-duty scissors to cut clothing
- Tweezers to remove insect stingers or small splinters
- Splints that are 1/4 in. thick by 3 in. wide by 12 to 15 in. long for splinting broken arms and legs
- Sterile saline solution
- 8 fl. oz. for small kits
- 2 qt. for large kits
- Safety pins
- Ice packs (chemical ice bags) to reduce swelling
- A pocket mask for resuscitation
- Three small packages of sugar for individuals with diabetes
- Disposable rubber gloves and eye goggles
- An emergency blanket
Note that dressings must be sterile—do not make your own dressings.
Farm first aid kits can be purchased through certain businesses and organizations. Click the links below to view kits and ordering information:
- CPR Savers & First Aid Supply – Farm and Ranch First Aid Kits
- Gempler’s Farm First Aid Kit
- Gempler’s First Aid Kit – Serious Farm Injury
- National Education Center for Agricultural Safety – Farm First Aid Kit
- Professional Equipment – Farm First Aid Kit
Injuries vary from job to job in production agriculture, so first aid kits should be tailored to the potential injury that could result from a particular job. Listed below are specialty kits and recommended items, in addition to the basic items outlined above, for inclusion in each kit.
|Type of Specialty Kit||Types of Injury||Kit Items|
|Tractor/Combine||Small wounds, minor or major bleeding, fractures, sprains, or severed limbs, amputation, or entanglement||
|Amputation||Amputation of a finger or limb||
|Dressing Supplies||Major trauma||
|Fracture (for immobilization of an injured limb)||Broken bone||
|Pesticide Exposure (for use during pesticide application season or to keep in pesticide storage area)||Ingestion of or contact with pesticide||
Take the following steps to prepare for potential emergencies or accidents on your farm or ranch:
- Get training in first aid and CPR. Contact the American Red Cross, National Safety Council, or local emergency medical service or hospital to locate trainings in your area.
- Make specialized first aid kits for various areas of the farm or ranch. Follow the instructions above to assemble the kits and remember to restock the kit after use and to replace expired items annually.
Linda M. Fetzer, Pennsylvania State University – email@example.com
Murphy, D., Pollock, J., Smith, G., Bean, T., & Sailus, M. (1989) First on the scene. National Resource, Agriculture, and Engineering Service (NRAES). Retrieved from http://host31.spidergraphics.com/nra/doc/Fair%20Use%20Web%20PDFs/NRAES-12_Web.pdf.
Schwab, C. & Sheridan, C. (2008) Farm emergency and first aid kits. Iowa State University Extension. Retrieved from http://www.extension.iastate.edu/publications/PM1563K.pdf.
Schwab, C. & Miller, L. (2008) How to respond to farm injuries. Iowa State University Extension. Retrieved from http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM1518L.pdf.