Sending a student off to college? Here’s everything you need to create a complete dorm room first aid kit for your peace of mind!
Care to join me in my time machine?
We’re traveling all the way back to 1987.
I was a freshman in college in a small town in Virginia.
The closest convenience store was a 3 block walk down a big hill from my dorm.
And the closest grocery store or pharmacy required finding a friend lucky enough to have a car who could give me a ride.
Most of the time, this wasn’t a problem!
Until one night, when I woke up with severe chills.
And a pounding headache.
With my nose so clogged I couldn’t breathe.
Plus a nagging tickle that had me coughing.
I had no idea what my temperature was, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t 98.6!
The student medical center wouldn’t be open for another 6 hours, and my roommate wasn’t in our room that night.
I took some Tylenol because that’s all I had and tried to get back to sleep, but it didn’t do the trick.
As the night wore on, I started getting more and more congested, and my fever didn’t seem to be improving.
At four in the morning, I decided to walk down to the Hop In to get some Nyquil.
It was so cold out!
I was miserable.
When I finally went to the student health center the next morning, my temperature was 103.7, and I wasn’t feeling nearly as chilled as I was when I woke up the night before!
Who knows how high my fever had been?
Of course, I’m still here to tell the tale.
So let’s hop back in my handy dandy time machine and head back to 2021 (actually 2018 when my oldest left for college!).
When it was time to send my kids to college, I wanted to make sure they had everything they needed in their dorm room with them in case they woke up sick in the middle of the night.
So I put together a traveling “medicine cabinet” and sent it with them.
Be sure to check out everything we recommend packing for a college dorm or for a first apartment!
I’m not sure who this first aid kit was truly for: them or me.
Because knowing they had anything they might need if they ever got sick while they were away really gave me some peace of mind.
Let’s take a look at how I put their dorm room first aid boxes together.
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How to Make a First Aid Kit for the Dorm
This box of medical supplies is a great gift idea for anyone headed out to live on their own!
I started off with a container.
These plastic tubs with a bamboo lid were perfect for my daughters. I found them in HomeGoods, but have some similar options linked at the bottom of this post.
These cute tin boxes were another HomeGoods find!
I liked that they had a lift out tray and the bottom section is divided.
But my girls preferred the look of the white boxes with the wood lid.
AnnMarie and I both used clear plastic shoe boxes for our sons when we made their first aid kits.
Ironically, they didn’t care what their portable medicine cabinet looked like… LOL
There are all kinds of great container options out there!
The most important part is to find something with a lid.
If the lid doesn’t stay on securely, be sure to tape it closed during move-in day.
We shared 20 more important tips to make move-in day a breeze if you haven’t moved your student in yet!
You’ll want their first aid kit to be portable so they can bring it with them easily if they end up having to quarantine due to Covid exposure or contact tracing.
You can get a complete list of everything to bring in case of a Covid quarantine at college here.
Tips When Purchasing Medication
Please note: We are not medical professionals! The items in this list are what I included for my children based on what we use in our home. Be sure to check with your doctor before using any kind of medication!
When you purchase items for a first aid kit like this, be sure to check expiration dates carefully.
Ideally, most of what you purchase should last for two years.
While I was shopping, I noticed the range of expiration dates for the exact same product varied as much as a year!
Medications aren’t cheap and it would be a shame to throw away unused product just because it expired too soon.
What to Include in a Portable Medicine Cabinet
I might have gone a little overboard with my daughters.
But in my defense, they both use almost everything that I included in their boxes at some point each month!
I wrote either the contents or the purpose of each item on the lid or the bottom of each container.
This makes it easy for them to know what each bottle contains.
After all, I’m not going to be around to answer their questions, right?
I know, I know: cut the apron strings already…
But like I said, these traveling first aid kits are just as much for my peace of mind as they are for them.
I know my girls well enough to know that at least one of them might not read the directions on the side of the box.
So I wrote down the most important details on a ziploc bag.
We also talked about how if their fever isn’t going down with just Tylenol/acetaminophen, they can use Advil/ibuprofen at the same time.
I put their thermometers and alcohol swabs in a small container to make it easy to remember to clean the thermometer before using it.
There are some great thermometers out there that can just scan the forehead or wrist, but I’m old school and think an oral temperature is generally more accurate.
I could be totally wrong!
But this is what we use at home so they’re familiar with how they work.
Another container corrals bandages, antibiotic ointment, and hydrocortisone cream.
Yes, it bothers me that I misspelled “hydrocortisone” on that lid… and they’re already moved in so I can’t fix it!
Their first aid boxes also include something for upset stomachs, heartburn, sore throats, allergies, immune support, cough, sleep aid, PMS symptoms, fiber, gas pain, swollen nasal passages, and dehydration.
And my daughter who gets migraines has a bottle with her preferred migraine relief.
There’s a complete list of everything I included at the bottom of this post.
There’s also some hydrogen peroxide which is great for cleaning wounds and also for blood stain removal.
Another family favorite that was tucked in each girls’ box is a tube of Aquaphor ointment.
This is truly the best way to treat and prevent chapped lips: use it every night to prevent that red ring from licking your lips!
We used to call it the “red ring of shame” when my son was little…
If you’re sick and blowing your nose a lot, dab some around your nose holes to prevent them from getting chapped too.
And it’s great on your hands when you’re washing them frequently.
Which they should definitely be doing when they’re sick, right?
Everything I Included in This Dorm Room Medicine Chest
We are not medical professionals! The items in this list are what I included for my children based on what we use in our home. Be sure to check with your doctor before using any kind of medication!
- PeptoBismal Liquicaps
- Pedialyte Packets
- Airborne Effervescent Tablets
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Fiber Therapy Pills
- Nasal Strips
- Midol Complete
- Cough Medicine (generic Delysm)
- Melatonin tablets, 3mg
- Allergy tablets (generic Benedryl)
- Afrin nasal spray
- Gas Relief tablets (generix Gas-X)
- Alcohol swab pads
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Antibiotic ointment with pain relief (generic Neosporin)
- Benedryl spray
- Cough drops
- Sore Throat Spray
- Excedrin Migraine
- Cold/Flu Relief (generic DayQuil/NyQuil capsules)
- Aquaphor ointment
Click on any image below to shop for items from this post
If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!
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