Complied by Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice
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).
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:
- National Education Center for Agricultural Safety
- Gempler’s Farm First Aid Kit
- Gempler’s First Aid Kit – Serious Farm Injury
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.
Specialty First Aid Kits
Type of Specialty Kit
Types of Injury
Small wounds, minor or major bleeding, fractures, sprains, or severed limbs, amputation, or entanglement
Basic first aid manual
Two triangular bandages (36 in.)
Six large adhesive bandages
Four safety pins
Sterile compress bandages (four 2 in. by 2 in. bandages and four 4 in. by 4 in. bandages)
Roll of 2 in. wide tape
Two pressure bandages (8 in. by 10 in.)
Two rolls of elastic wrap
Five clean plastic bags (varied sizes from bread bags to garbage bags)
Amputation of a finger or limb
Plastic bags of varying sizes (one large garbage bag, four medium kitchen garbage bags, and eight small plastic bread bags)
Closable container to store bags
Sterile compresses (2 in. by 2 in. and 4 in. by 4 in.)
Gauze roller bandages (1 in., 2 in., and 6 in. wide)
Chemical ice packs
Disposable rubber gloves
Tweezers and safety pins
Fracture (for immobilization of an injured limb)
Wooden or plastic splints
Roll of elastic wrap
Pesticide Exposure (for use during pesticide application season or to keep in pesticide storage area)
Ingestion of or contact with pesticide
Emergency and poison control center contact information
Two 1 qt. containers of clean water
Disposable rubber gloves
Take the following steps to prepare for potential emergencies or accidents on your farm or ranch:
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.
First aid kits for production agriculture. (2013). Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from http://www.extension.org/pages/66377/first-aid-kits-for-production-agriculture.
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 https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1044&context=exte....
Schwab, C. & Miller, L. (2008) How to respond to farm injuries. Iowa State University Extension. Retrieved from https://store.extension.iastate.edu/product/How-to-respond-to-farm-injur....
Reviewed and Summarized by:
Linda M. Fetzer, Pennsylvania State University – [email protected]
Gary Erisman, Retired Safety Faculty - Illinois State University and active farmer (Has since retired)
Davis Hill, Pennsylvania State University – (has since retired)
Dennis J. Murphy, Pennsylvania State University - (has since retired)
Aaron M. Yoder, University of Nebraska Medical Center – [email protected]