Beach First Aid Kit: DIY List to Get You Started

Greg Stump Avatar

image of first aid kit surrounded by supplies for beach first aid
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Do you carry a beach first aid kit?  If you are anything like the vast majority of roughly 60 million  American beach goers each year, you probably don’t. But you should.   Minor cuts and scrapes, sunburns, jellyfish stings, and all manner of other minor injuries could be easily treated with a basic first aid kit,  but often times no one seems to have one.  Minor injuries can lead to big discomforts if left untreated,  turning an otherwise great day at the beach into a miserable experience.  Preserve your day and preserve your trip by being prepared.

A beach first aid kit does not need to be huge, bulky, or expensive.   Make it simple, light weight, and tailor it to what you are likely going to need.  We’re starting you off with this list of first aid supplies. Learn how to treat common beach injuries with these step by step instructions.

What to Put in a DIY First Aid Kit for the Beach

Basic Bandaging Items

Plan to have a small collection of band aids (in varying sizes), gauze pads, and tape. My wife likes to store our adhesive bandages in a small plastic file folder (commonly called a coupon folder). This is a great item to pick up because you can also “file” gauze pads and medication sheets as well.

Hand Sanitizer

Infections are a very real thing. Make sure you’re bandaging things with clean hands. It’s also smart to keep gloves in a first aid kit but they can be tricky to get on if your hands are wet. Clean hands are the priority here.

Antinflammatory Medication and Pain Relievers

It’s important to pack some basic medication that might come in handy. Pain-relief medication can be used for anything from bee stings to severe sunburn. Tylenol and Advil are great options.

Ace Bandage

Walking on a sandy beach is VERY different from walking just about anywhere else. Many people tend to forget this between beach visits.  It is very easy to sprain an ankle or hurt a knee.  Having the ability to wrap an injured joint with an ace bandage can make the difference between a good day and a bad one

Disposable Instant Ice Packs

Along the same lines as an ace bandage, you’ll be happy to have them in your beach first aid kit.  Ice packs can make a big difference in how the day goes.  You can activate them to ice a rolled ankle, a black eye from a rogue volleyball to the face or to assist in the treatment of a heat related emergency.

Tweezers

Tweezers are a must have item for removing anything number of little things that could become embedded the skin.  From splinters to broken glass to jellyfish stingers that could be embedded in the skin, tweezers are an essential beach first aid kit item.

Bottle of purified water (unopened)

The importance of having an unopened bottle of water cannot be overstated. It’s perfect for washing sand and other debris from small cuts. You can also use it to flush sand or salt water from an eye.  Make sure to keep this particular bottle of water separate from your drinks. Why? Let’s just say it is very unpleasant to use ice cold water for medical purposes (like flushing).

Saline Solution

Along the same lines of the bottle of water I’d put this on a beach essential list. There are many solutions available, pick one that is eye safe. This way you can use it as an eye wash for removing sand and is easier to use for small kiddo eyes.

A mother holds her son from behind on a beach as they play and laugh. The boy is wearing a blue swimsuit.
Enjoy a fun day at the beach knowing that your family has a well stocked beach first aid kit just in case! Photo Credit: mimagephotography via Shutterstock

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera gel is tried and true and works just as well as anything else on the market.  Anyone who had used Aloe Vera on a sunburn knows that it is the first thing to reach for.

Sun Block

To be fair,  this doesn’t really need to be in the first aid kit. There are usually copious amounts of it strewn about the car to begin with. For the sake of being complete I’m including it here.  Besides, having a backup supply of sunblock is never a bad idea. Someone ALWAYS forgets to bring it and you could “save the day” for a total stranger.

Read More: Here are the best sunscreens for kids. 

White Vinegar

White vinegar is just about the best thing to treat jellyfish stings. Yes, we know you want to pee on your buddy but it doesn’t really work.

Note: Here’s how to treat a jellyfish sting.

Anti-Itch Cream

One of the fun parts of the beach? Bug bites. Of course, you should apply bug spray before hitting the beach but somehow a bite or two always sneak through. Bring anti itch cream to stop kids from itching the bites and opening themselves up to possible infection.

couple walking along sandy beach holding hands
Hit the beach this summer knowing you are prepared for anything with your DIY first aid kit. Here are our favorite beaches in the United States. Photo credit: Alexander Image via Shutterstock

Ear Drops

While these may not be needed for an emergency this is something you should consider for your beach first aid kit. Many kids have sensitive ears. Wearing earplugs helps. If you have that water in your ear feeling after swimming a few ear drops will help.

EpiPen and Benadryl

If anyone in your family is allergic to bee stings be sure to pack an EpiPen in case of a reaction. The auto injectors are controversially pricey (even with coupons EpiPens run over $100) so you absolutely want to store it properly. In order to work correctly they have to be stored at the proper temperature. If you travel with an EpiPen, especially if you leave it in your vehicle from time to time please buy a proper carrying protective case for it.

Benadryl should also be in your kit. It’s great for minor reactions to stings (hives), seasonal allergies, or mild food reactions. I like liquid Benadryl because it’s easier to give to kids sometimes. It can be more challenging to carry especially if you are flying versus driving. We carry Benadryl chewables when bringing a liquid is tricky. Remember if you have kids buy Benadryl kids vs. adult Benadryl. Adult Benadryl is usually 25mg per tablet and you take 1-2. Children’s versions are usually 12.5mg per tablet or per 5mL.

TIP: If you’ve got a kiddo with allergies you know how challenging they can be. This company makes carrying cases for EpiPens, asthma supplies, and bracelets for kids that identify food allergies. I love them both as a paramedic and as a parent.

Poison Ivy Wash or Spray

I had never even considered needing this until meeting Texas poison ivy. It is truly a different breed. I’ve had several cases after being exposed to poison ivy doing yard work or when responding to vehicle accident scenes in brush that have resulted in needing a course of steroids. They are nothing like poison ivy I got growing up in the Northeast. Now if I even think I’ve been exposed I immediately wash down the area. Technu isn’t the cheapest product on the market but it is the best that I’ve used. The Technu wash will help immediately after exposure and if poison ivy develops the Technu spray helps relieve the itching.

What to Pack Your Beach First Aid Kit In

This should be obvious to most of you but the beach is wet and dirty. Your first aid supplies are going to do you no good if they aren’t kept protected. Be sure keeping your first aid kit dry is a priority. There are numerous options for what to put it in. Personally, you’d be surprised by how well a durable insulated lunch box works. It’s easy to carry, zips or snaps shut to keep sand out. There are also flat insulated lunch boxes that are great to keep supplies in the car under a seat and out of the way.

One other great option to put first aid kits in are cheap, plastic toolboxes. Not only are they super affordable, but you can stash them in a car trunk easily. They also offer organization and stacking so that the most used items are accessible on top while just in case things live out of site underneath.

Beyond a Beach First Aid Kit: Tips for an Emergency Situation

Remember, if at anytime you aren’t 100% sure that you have control over the situation, seek help.  If the situation turns into an emergency, call 911 sooner rather than later.  It can be very difficult to locate someone who calls for 911 in wide open and crowded areas (speaking from experience on that one). Appoint someone to flag down and guide paramedics to the patient. This can make a BIG difference in a true emergency.

With your DIY first aid kit packed and ready to go you’re ready for a fun day at the beach. What else would you add to a beach first aid kit?

Greg Stump Avatar
Greg Stump is married to Nasreen Stump. Together they have 4 kids- a 16 year old boy, 10 year old girl, 8 year old girl, and 4 year old boy. By day Greg is a paramedic for a large county service in Texas. Working a 48 hour on 96 hour off schedule Greg attempts to squeeze in as much outdoor/adventure/nature travel as possible into his days off. He thinks the ideal vacation is either walking a busy city center and eating all the things or being dropped by helicopter into the remote wilderness and not seeing another human being for a week. He also loves Disney more than he cares to admit. Greg writes about adventure travel, travel with a wide range of kids, medical travel and all the ways to keep your family safe and sound while on the road.
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3 responses


  1. Great advice and comprehensive, but…. what about the picture and Listerine being a part of the picture? did I miss something? l

  2. As precaution is better than cure. Just safeguard your day and stay prepared for the journey.

  3. A first aid kit for a beach doesn’t have to be massive, voluminous or expensive. Make it straightforward, lightweight and tailor to what you probably need.

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