Household items for first aid

19th June 2023

Posted by Dr Michelle Wright

What household items can I use in a first aid situation?

As regular listeners know, one of the things that I do is deliver First Aid training. 

I spend time in my courses explaining that First Aid doesn’t always need specialised kit or items.  

There are some simple household objects that we can all use in a First Aid situation. 

Four of my favourites are a tea towel, frozen peas, a pillow, and cling film (or food wrap).  

Starting with a tea towel – this can be used in several ways. 

How do I use them?

Firstly, to stem heavy bleeding: 

  • We know that direct manual pressure is key in the treatment of bleeding. 
  • If you haven’t got access to a First Aid kit, grab a clean tea towel, and use this to press continuously over the point of bleeding for 10 minutes.  
  • If the bleeding isn’t controlled, or the person is developing symptoms of shock, then an ambulance is needed. 

We can also use a tea towel as part of an improvised ice pack.  

For this, you’ll also need a bag of frozen peas. You can use other frozen vegetables – but I like peas because of their shape and so their ability to wrap around a joint or limb.  

Grab the peas from the freezer and wrap the tea towel around them so that the skin is protected from becoming too cold.  

This improvised ice pack can then be used as first aid for sprains and strains, to reduce pain and swelling after an insect sting or bite, or to reduce swelling after a bump to the head. 

Most of us sleep with a pillow or have a cushion on our sofa or armchair.  

These household items make great support for an injured bone, a sprained joint, or a strained muscle.  

Supporting the injury in this way can reduce pain and swelling and may prevent further injury.  

And then finally, cling film – food wrap. Earlier this year, I talked about the latest guidance around first aid for burns. Listen on to hear my advice or listen to the whole podcast at

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