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How often should a first aid kit be checked?

One of the most important workplace supplies you will have in your business is a first aid kit. It is there to provide basic first aid in the event of an accident or emergency.

But, how often do you check the tiny expiry dates printed on the packaging?

The official advise from medics is that your first aid kit should be checked every three months as items such as plasters and creams actually have expiry dates which means if you aren’t regularly checking your stock next time you reach for the medical supplies you could find yourself ill prepared.

Why do first aid items have expiry dates?

When you think of perishables and use-by dates medical kits might not be the first thing you think of. However, there are lots of things that can limit how long supplies in a first aid kit last.

Sterility – Any first aid supplies that must be sterile when used, such as plasters or wipes, will almost always have a use-by date. Packaging loses its integrity over time, and bacteria can get into sterile dressings and tools. Infection is a huge risk with any wound and can often cause far more damage than the original injury. It is important that packaging is 100% sealed and in date to maximise the effectiveness of the sterility of items.

Adhesives – Items like bandages and plasters do not have an unlimited shelf life as not only will they be affected by sterility reducing, the adhesive, which sticks to your skin, will degrade over time. As the adhesive loses its stickiness it means the items will no longer do a good job of keeping cuts and other wounds protected.

Materials degrade -  Over time materials such as latex gloves or rubber bands degrade. After a while they get to the point they are so weak that they break and tear. This is not something you want to happen when you need latex gloves to protect yourself while handling something infectious!

Medicines and creams – Creams and medicine also have a limited shelf life. The active ingredients break down over time and this means they not only lose their effectiveness but can actually become hazardous.

Being clear on what you need to check and how to keep on top of the regular reviews is essential in making sure that you are prepared. Your first aid can be left unused for a long time but when you need it, it is essential it is up to date and you have all the equipment you need.

How can I make sure my first aid kit is up to date?

If you haven’t checked your first aid box in a while don’t worry, there are some simple steps you can put in place now to ensure that your supplies are always in date.

1.      Go through your first aid box and check that all your items are included. For a full list of what you need check out this guide from the Health and Safety Executive Then go through and pull out everything that has expired and immediately replace the missing or out of date items.

2.      Once you have restocked the first aid box create a list of all the items in there and most importantly the expiry dates. Put the list in date order of when things expire so that it is easy to see which item will go out of date next. Then keep the list in the front of the first aid box so it is easily accessible.

3.      Nominate someone within the team to have responsibility of regularly checking and reordering supplies.

4.      Make a note every three months in the diary to review and check your expiry date list so that you know when you will need to order new stock and replenish items.

5.      You could even include a sign-up sheet next to the first aid box which is signed every time the first aid box is checked so that it is easily visible if a review has been missed.

What to look out for when reviewing your first aid kit?

It can be difficult to know what to look for when reviewing your first aid kit so to help you get started, we have just pulled together this handy list of what to look for when reviewing your first aid kit. Out of date and damaged items risk causing infections and can make the situation worse so if in doubt it is always best to replenish stock to make sure that it hasn’t been compromised.

1.      Review expiry dates, replace used equipment and clean the inside of the box with a sterile wipe.

2.      Take a full inventory of what is included and make sure that you know how to use the products.

3.      Check dressings, gauze and bandages are all correctly packaged and there is no damage. If the packaging is damaged, then it will need to be replaced as the product will no longer be sterile and is not safe for use.

4.      Check nonsterile bandages for any signs of damage, discolouration or mildew. If it is showing any signs of damage, then it will need to be replaced. Make sure all bandages are stored neatly so they are easily accessible.

5.      Take the time to update first aiders’ knowledge. It is important that first aiders receive regular training so that they know what to do in an emergency and are aware of how and when to use all the supplies.

It only takes 10 minutes every few months to ensure your first aid kit is properly stocked but that time could be a life saver if there ever was an accident at work.

At LG Davis we stock a variety of first aid kits and equipment. Whether you are looking to stock up or start out our quality, branded items are the perfect solution.

If you need any help restocking or updating your first aid kit please get in touch on 0121 430 9000 or request a quote online at LG Davis | Get a Quote for Print & Office Supplies (

Our stock and save system means that you can order in bulk and get items delivered to you as and when you need them.



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