A sports first aid kit contains items specifically tailored to address common sports injuries and medical issues. In particular, during sports and physical activities. In the UK First Aid Kit contents are governed by BS 8599-1 and in the United States it is the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
What items should I include in a sports first aid kit?
Be aware, that recommended contents vary as regulations change as well as the personal preference of the medical professional. However, here’s a list of common items included in a sports first aid kit:
Adhesive bandages (plasters)
These come in various sizes and are ideal for covering small cuts, blisters, or abrasions.
Sterile gauze pads and adhesive tape
These are for larger wounds where smaller plasters are not suitable. They protect the wound, keeping it sterile. Adhesive tape secures the dressings in place.
For supporting injured joints and sports taping applications, for example, sprained ankles or wrists both immediately after injury as well as later in the rehabilitation process. These come in different varieties:
- Crepe bandages
- Cohesive tape which sticks to itself, not the skin
- Elastic adhesive bandage used in taping applications
- Rip light tape which is elastic adhesive bandage you can tear easily
Instant cold packs
Instant cold packs are activated by striking the pack to release an endothermic (cold) chemical reaction. As a result, they are ideal for immediate first aid for sports injuries where ice or reusable cold packs are not available. For example pitchside.
Hot packs or heat wraps
Heat therapy is more useful for warming up before exercise or as treatment for non-acute muscle soreness or stiffness.
Zinc oxide/athletic tape
Non-stretch zinc oxide sports tape comes in a variety of widths and is very commonly used by competitive sports teams for taping and stabilising weak or injured joints.
Antiseptic wipes are important for cleaning wounds before dressing them and preventing infection.
Disposable gloves, nitrile or latex gloves protect the first aider when working as well as reducing the risk of infection for the patient when providing first aid. Nitrile gloves are a more popular choice these days because latex causes an allergic reaction in some people.
Scissors and tweezers
For cutting tape, clothing, or removing splinters. For example, you need scissors for cutting standard elastic adhesive bandages.
Sterile saline solution
First aiders use sterile saline solution to flush debris from eyes or clean wounds. It is safer and more hygienic than plain water.
These include blister plasters, zinc oxide tape and adhesive padding to prevent and treat blisters.
CPR face shield or pocket mask
CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation masks give protection when giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if needed.
A staple of all sports first aid kits there are many uses for a triangular bandage. In particular, making slings or immobilising injuries, especially shoulder injuries.
These are cards containing important information. For example, emergency contact numbers for emergency services, or team members and coaches. In addition, some carry on-field concussion assessment information, or a First Aid manual.
For example, if any team members have specific medical conditions, or allergies, or require prescription medications, keep these in the kit.
A whistle is useful for attracting attention during emergencies or signalling for help. A notepad and pen are important for recording details of injuries, treatments administered, and contact information. This is especially important for concussions or more serious injuries. Plastic bags are great for disposing of used items or storing contaminated materials.
Guidelines for First Aid Kits in the UK & USA
British Standard BS 8599-1 provides guidelines and recommendations for the provision of first aid kits in the workplace in the UK. Specifically, it outlines the minimum contents, design, and size of first aid kits. Specifically for different types of workplaces in the United Kingdom. The purpose of this is to ensure that employers are adequately prepared to provide first aid to employees and visitors in case of injuries or medical emergencies.
In the United States, however, the legal requirements for first aid kits in sports and workplaces are primarily governed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for workplaces, and by various state regulations and organisations for sports and recreational activities.
BS 8599-1 compliant first aid kits
BS 8599-1 compliant first aid kits are more comprehensive and up-to-date than the previous standards (BS 8599-1:1997). The updated standard categorises first aid kits into three different sizes based on the level of risk and the number of employees in the workplace:
- Small First Aid Kit (1-25 employees)
- Medium First Aid Kit (26-100 employees)
- Large First Aid Kit (Over 100 employees)
The contents of BS 8599-1 compliant first aid kits are more comprehensive and include items like sterile adhesive dressings, bandages, burn dressings, eye wash, scissors, disposable gloves, and first aid guidance leaflets. However, specific items vary depending on the kit size and the risk level of the workplace.
It’s essential for employers in the UK to assess the specific risks in their workplaces and choose the appropriate size and type of first aid kit to comply with BS 8599-1.
The specific contents of a sports first aid kit can vary depending on the sport, participants, and risks involved. Therefore, it’s essential to regularly check your kit to ensure that items are in good condition and have not expired. Additionally, those responsible for the kit should be trained in basic first aid and CPR to provide effective assistance when needed.
OSHA Requirements for Sports and Recreational Activities
For sports and recreational activities, the requirements vary widely depending on the type of activity, location, and governing bodies involved. Federal regulations specifically addressing first aid kits for sports and recreational activities might not apply. However, requirements may come from:
- Sports organisations
- State and local regulations
- Insurance requirements
Additionally, having qualified individuals trained in first aid and CPR at sports events is generally considered best practice.