Vehicle first aid kits: Which one should you get?

Vehicle first aid kits

Estimated reading time: 1 minute

After some friends of mine had a head-on car crash, I was asked which first aid kit do I need to get? This got me thinking as there was bound to be some guidance or regulations regarding first aid kits in vehicles. In this article we’re going to be looking at vehicle first aid kits, whether your vehicle is a motorcycle, car, van, etc.


I spending quite a lot of time on the nations motorways and this got me wondering about first aid kits for vehicles. What guidance or legislation is there for vehicles and their operators or owners? Do you need to have a first aid kit that meets a certain standard; for example the British Standard approved first aid kits for vehicles?

Remember my friends who had the car crash I mentioned earlier? A week after the crash he was asking me what he should have in his car in terms of first aid provision. Well the simple answer to that is a first aid kit, but this was followed up with a comment about knowing how to use what you had in the kit and having things in your kit that you know how to use.

Vehicle first aid kits – Guidance

In terms of guidance we have the Health & Safety at Work Act (as amended). The HSE’s website tells us that:

If you are self employed you are required to ensure you have such equipment, as may be adequate and appropriate in the circumstances, to provide first aid to yourself while at work.

You should make an assessment of the hazards and risks in your workplace and establish an appropriate level of first-aid provision. If you carry out activities involving low hazards (eg clerical work) in your own home, you would not be expected to provide first-aid equipment beyond your normal domestic needs. If your work involves driving long distances or you are continuously on the road, the assessment may identify the need to keep a personal first-aid kit in your vehicle.


Now let’s add some more legislation into the mix for company drivers.

In June 2011 British Standard BS 8599 came into effect (since amended) which superseded the British Healthcare Trades Association Standard which was originally published in 1997. This new standard has a section (Part 2) which relates to the contents of first aid kits for motor vehicles. It identifies three different sizes of motor vehicle first aid kit, determined by the size of the vehicle, category of the hazard, and the passenger numbers.

Small: For moped, motorcycle, motor tricycle, and quadricycle (maximum 3 passengers).
Medium: For car, taxi, van, and truck (maximum 8 passengers).
Large: For minibus, bus and coach (maximum 16 passengers, larger passenger vehicles will require multiple kits to suit).

There’s also additional legislation for those who drive taxis and buses.

So do you need to follow this in the UK for your own non-business use car?

No you don’t, which is a shame really as having a first aid kit with you when you’ve driven your family to the park, or wherever, could prove to be really handy. If nothing else there are some handy wipes in there for grubby fingers.

So if you were to have a BS 8599-2:2014 compliant first aid kit in your own car you should have the following items stored in a clearly marked container which displays the standard first aid sign (see page 18 of the HSE’s Guidance Note L64), namely:

  • 1 Guidance Leaflet
  • 2 Gloves (Pair)
  • 10 Cleansing Wipes
  • 10 Washproof Plasters
  • 1 Foil Blanket (Adult)
  • 1 Resuscitation Device
  • 1 Pair of Universal Shears
  • 1 Adherent Dressing
  • 2 Burn Dressings
  • 1 HSE Dressing, size medium
  • 1 Trauma Dressing, size medium
  • 1 Triangular Bandage

In 2019 (becoming effective January 1st 2020), British Standard BS 8599-1:2019 was released. This standard relates to workplace first aid kits.

While it’s still only a recommendation at the end of the day, it amended the contents of small, medium & large first aid kits. It amalgamated what had always been known separately as the Travel and the Motoring first aid kits (Motoring kits are specifically discussed within BS 8599-2:2014). And it also created the brand new Critical Injury first aid kit.

So what’s in these new vehicle first aid kits?

  • 1 Guidance leaflet
  • 1 Contents List
  • 1 Medium sterile dressing
  • 1 Triangular bandage
  • 10 Sterile adhesive dressing
  • 10 Alcohol free moist wipes
  • 2 pairs Nitrile disposable gloves
  • 1 Resuscitation face shield
  • 1 Foil blanket
  • 2 Burns dressing
  • 1 Shears
  • 1 Adhesive dressing (7.5 x 7.5cm)
  • 1 Trauma dressing – medium (10 x 18 cm)

With this being the standard, most places that you go to will advertise that their kits meet this standard – it’s a good selling point, after all. Whether you choose an approved first aid kit, or one that meets BS 8599-2:2014, make sure it’s of good quality & everything inside it is in date. This is something that it’s really easy to miss & we’ll be blogging about this later.

Of course you can always add items to your kit, to give you the best kit for you & your needs. This is why you should always have done a first aid needs assessment.

Our thoughts

Don’t forget, whatever you ultimately end up putting in your first aid kit, it would be handy if you knew exactly how to use the items correctly. So get yourself booked onto a first aid course. We offer a range of courses, from basic first aid to pre-hospital care & everything in between. If you’re not sure which course your should go on, we’ve written a post all about it, here.

Drive safely folks!

What are your thoughts on this subject? Leave a comment below.

Chris Garland. Founder and lead instructor at Chris Garland Training.
Chris Garland. Founder and lead instructor at Chris Garland Training.
Vehicle first aid kits: Which one should you get?

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