Children's Hospital Colorado

First-Aid Kit 101: What All Coaches Need to Know

A first-aid kit is a necessity to help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies while coaching. Commercial kits generally don’t cover the specific needs of athletes and are relatively expensive compared to custom-made kits. The contents can vary, but there are some basic guidelines when building your first-aid kit.

How to assemble your team’s first-aid kit

Medical bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The main consideration should be that the bag is lightweight, portable and durable. A backpack may be a good choice. Within the bag, transparent plastic containers are a useful way to keep the bag organized and easily identifiable.

First-Aid Kit “MUST HAVES”:

Emergency items

  • Emergency cards – These should include parent/guardian phone numbers for each athlete, emergency contact information, information about medical conditions, allergies, other concerns, current medications, insurance information and physician information
  • CPR mask
  • Exam gloves
  • Splint – SAM splints are common in many athletic trainer’s bag; they are easy to use and can be re-used
  • Triangular bandage
  • Safety pins (large and small) – Can use to secure triangular and elastic bandages
  • Elastic bandages (2, 3 and 4”) – For wrapping sprained or strained joints and wrapping splints
  • Disposable instant cold packs

Wound care items

  • Sterile gauze pads of different sizes – For covering and cleaning wounds; can also be used as a soft eye patch
  • Roll gauze
  • Antiseptic solution (like hydrogen peroxide)
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Adhesive bandages in several sizes
  • Non-stick wound pads
  • Cotton-tipped applicators – Q-tips work fine
  • Alcohol wipes


  • Petroleum jelly
  • Sterile eyewash, such as saline
  • Hand sanitizer

Taping supplies

  • Adhesive tape in various sizes
  • Tape underwrap
  • Tape adherent


  • Bandage scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Hand mirror

Miscellaneous items

  • Plastic re-sealable bags
  • Change for payphone
  • Contact lens case
  • Insect repellant
  • Sunscreen
  • Trash bag – If the kit is not waterproof, this can be used over the kit to protect it from rain

Read more articles for coaches of young athletes.