Red alert

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 April, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 April, 2004, 12:00am

Is your home's first-aid box stocked with the essentials? Here's a vital checklist

A well-stocked first-aid kit should adequately cover treatment for minor accidents in the home. Keep the kit somewhere easily accessible to adults but not within the children's reach. A list of emergency telephone numbers should be taped to the lid (the poisons bureau, local hospital accident and emergency department). Also, keep a record of the allergies of each family member and any medication family members are taking.

Temperature check

Thermometer: The easiest way to check a child's temperature is via the rectum; it is also the most reliable. Apply Vaseline to the area before inserting the thermometer. For adults, electronic thermometers are easy to use.

Keep it cool

Paracetamol: Useful for lowering a raised temperature and for pain relief (tablet form Panadol, $16.90, Watson's). A syrup format (Panadol syrup, $39.90, Watson's) is good for children but should be kept in the refrigerator (in which case, the refrigerator door should be child-proof). Cough syrup should also be kept in the refrigerator.

necessary elements

Decongestants (Mentholatum, $44.90, or Duration, $64.50, Watson's); antihistamines (Piriton, $28.50, Watson's); antiseptic solution (Dettol or Savlon, both $15.90 at Mannings); tweezers ($18.80, Watson's); gauze squares; a triangular bandage and a long bandage (an Elasto bandage from Mannings costs $6.50; a thicker, crepe one costs $13.90); round-ended scissors ($34.90, Watson's). Waterproof plaster strips (Elastoplast, $16.50, Mannings) are less painful to remove than non-waterproof ones.

Natural remedies

Valerian is used by a lot of medical herbalists to treat stress and anxiety, and can also be used in the treatment of insomnia. It can be taken as a herbal tea or in a liquid formula.

Chamomile is great for hyperactivity, nervous tension and sleep problems in children. It is a safe and effective remedy for colic, diarrhoea, constipation and travel sickness. Chamomile can be taken as a herbal tea or in liquid format.

Kawakawa, commonly known as New Zealand Peppertree, is widely used for stomach pains and indigestion, especially when the cause is overeating. It can be taken as an herbal tea or in a liquid formula.

Ginger was traditionally used to enhance the digestive process and relieve digestive problems such as colic, flatulence, dyspepsia, cramping and loss of appetite. Medical herbalists today use it as a stimulating tonic, a carminative tonic, a stomach tonic and an antispasmodic. Ginger can be taken as an herbal tea or in liquid formula.

Manuka oil can be used to treat fungal infections, especially athlete's foot. It should be applied directly to the affected area.

Calendula has been used for hundreds of years as a poultice for bites and stings, and in ointments and lotions for chapped or burned skin.

It is not usually necessary to get professional advice before using natural remedies. Labels on products should contain instructions for use. Herbal information is supplied by The Vitality Centre. Hong Kong has numerous health stores. Try Herbal Bliss (2676 2885) or Health Gate

(2545 2286).

FIRST-AID COURSES: About 90 per cent of accidents happen in the home. The YWCA runs first-aid courses for child carers. A registered nurse and midwife show participants how to handle situations that could arise in the home or on the playground. Call 3476 1340.