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Treacodactyl

Old medical supplies

Luckily, I suppose, I don't tend to use many items in the couple of medical kits I have handy before they run out of date. I do like to keep them handy as I occasionally do something daft like stick something in my eye, set my hand on fire or a loved one tries to bleed to death.

So, can bandages, plasters etc be used past their use-by-dates? If not should they just be binned?

If they have to be replaced does anyone know of where long life kits could be obtained from, something that would last for 10+ years or so?
Went

In an emergency any clean (not sterile) bandage or strapping will do. Infections (unlikley) can be treated, stemming the blood flow or covering a wound is more important until medical help can be secured.

Disclaimer: I know nowt Very Happy
oldish chris

Can I get this straight, you want to buy something that you are unlikely to use during the next 10 years?

Minor cuts, wash under fast flowing tap-water, apply digital pressure until the bleeding stops. Send someone to the shops for a suitable plaster or bandage.
Treacodactyl

Can I get this straight, you want to buy something that you are unlikely to use during the next 10 years?


Ideally, yes. I've got fire extinguishers and smoke alarms etc and they've never been used but I'm more than happy to have them - it's not a strange concept. I also didn't realise all medical kits are pointless. Rolling Eyes

Although I would have thought it was obvious to make my point as clear as possible, I have a couple of medical kits and some items get used and replaced but many do not and reach the end of their stated life. This often seems to be only two years or so so does anyone know of any makes that would last much longer?
sally_in_wales

With things like bandages and plasters, I might be tempted to double seal the packages, for example, put all the wrapped bandages and plasters inside something like a fresh gripseal bag and seal it down with the air squashed out. I think some of the sell-by date on plasters is a failsafe in case the packaging seals don't hold up well over time, and an extra wrap would help you feel confident that they remain clean and dry
Ty Gwyn

The only thing that goes wrong with old plasters,is the sticky is nt as good,bandages are only linen/cotton,as long as their clean,they will last your lifetime.

In emergency to stop bleeding,some cobwebs will be suffice,even antiseptic in their make up,or a chew of bacco.
NorthernMonkeyGirl

How hi-tech is your current kit?
Ye olde bandages were cotton / linen etc, but modern ones have anti-microbial gubbins and all sorts impregnated - eventually the stuff degrades and you open a packet of powder. This was told to us on a first aid course; now I don't know whether Tesco Value bandages will run to antibacterial coatings, but he made it sound like it was pretty much standard now.

Yes, in a real emergency anything will do - tea towels, hankies, cling film etc etc.
Treacodactyl

I know in an emergency I could make do but it's not that hard to have something more appropriate at hand.

I would have thought there should be suitable long life equipment around, after all employers, clubs etc have to have medical kits and they will have to contain items in date. I bet there's loads of stuff binned each year.
Jamanda

I know in an emergency I could make do but it's not that hard to have something more appropriate at hand.

I would have thought there should be suitable long life equipment around, after all employers, clubs etc have to have medical kits and they will have to contain items in date. I bet there's loads of stuff binned each year.


There is. Mostly pointlessly.

Either cope with having things past their date in your box, or throw things away and buy new.

I tend to sort out once a year, but sealed bandages etc stay what ever.
Mustang

... apply digital pressure until the bleeding stops

I've now got this image of someone pressing an ipad onto a cut!

But I'm sure there's an app for that.

.
Treacodactyl

Either cope with having things past their date in your box, or throw things away and buy new.

I tend to sort out once a year, but sealed bandages etc stay what ever.

Silly me for trying to reduce waste. A fair bit of what I have is well past it's use by date and as I don't know the exact reasons for those dates it seems reasonable not to want to use them. Even sealed in the average kit aren't air-tight.

Yes I can buy new and chuck the old unused stuff away every couple of years but what's so wrong about trying to see if there's any longer-life stuff available to reduce waste? Confused
bagpuss


Yes I can buy new and chuck the old unused stuff away every couple of years but what's so wrong about trying to see if there's any longer-life stuff available to reduce waste? Confused

There isn't anything wrong with trying to reduce waste but in this instance you might struggle to find things
Pilsbury

I tend to claim the out of date stuff they throw away from work, then keep it till they throw out the next lot and bin mine and replace it with the new out of rate stuff, my reasoning is it gets 2 chances of being used, it is free and my stuff is only ever 2 years out of date lol. Went

We all know that in the majority of cases sell by and use by dates are a complete waste and a marketing company's dream tool. Treacodactyl

We all know that in the majority of cases sell by and use by dates are a complete waste and a marketing company's dream tool.

There's rational thinking behind most though and if I'm confident I'll ignore some or at least make an educated guess.

With medical supplies I don't know much about them. I've just rootled through my kit and there's bandages that have a life of around 2 years and they're 6 years out of date. There's a disinfectant dressing that's a couple of years out of date and I wouldn't have a clue if that just means it's not as effective as it could be or if it might cause other problems.

But that's all beside the point, which is if you want/need stuff to be in date are there any sort of supplies that have a longer than normal date on them.
Jamanda

I think if there was every school, shop and every other workplace in the country would pounce on them. Treacodactyl

With things like bandages and plasters, I might be tempted to double seal the packages, for example, put all the wrapped bandages and plasters inside something like a fresh gripseal bag and seal it down with the air squashed out. I think some of the sell-by date on plasters is a failsafe in case the packaging seals don't hold up well over time, and an extra wrap would help you feel confident that they remain clean and dry

I've been doing some digging (it seems to be a frequently asked question) and have found research that shows it's often handling that causes supplies to spoil rather than simply age.

So, I assume in something like a frequently opened medical kit things are not going to last. If I wanted to build up a few items at home then I'm not sure sealing them myself would work but buying small sealed boxes of things like plasters rather than buying a large box of plasters would be better.

I expect you could buy some double sealed long life items but they're bound to cost a fair bit more so there may not be much of a market for them.
Ty Gwyn

I have bandages and wound dressings,from the late 50s early 60s,still in their blue paper packaging,from a Colliery first aid box,naturally if the package gets damaged,it could get contaminated,but if their kept in a separate box,as they would be in a first aid kit of this kind,
I dont see what all the fuss is,you really are taking it to the full extreme.
Treacodactyl

I'm not taking it to extreme at all, for that you should read some of the stuff I've looked at.

It's a bit like asking if some meat that's past it's sell by date is ok to eat. It some circumstances it's fine in others it could be dangerous, personally I would like some rational reasoning before being told something is fine.

Anyway, I think I've found what I'm looking for or at least what to search for.
RichardW

It can be done.


Shell dressings have a very long usable life. The packets are much sturdier & the cost a bit steeper than standard dressings. This one has 5 years life.

linky

Available from HERE with a 2017 date
Treacodactyl

Thanks for the link, funnily enough that's what started me thinking about the dates as I planned to get a couple but I didn't know their shelf life.

I'm going to order from these people: http://boundtree.co.uk/the-emergency-bandage-trauma-wound-dressing-4in

Searching for vacuum packed kits also throws up a few.
Londonworms

A fair bit of what I have is well past it's use by date and as I don't know the exact reasons for those dates it seems reasonable not to want to use them.

The short answer is it's part of the Medical Devices Directive.

All products classed as medical devices, and that includes bandages and dressings, must meet certain criteria in their manufacturing and packaging processes. There's naturally a date beyond which the manufacturer won't be able to guarantee these standards will continue to be met in the packaging, even assuming the correct handling and storage conditions are met. They will only claim something is 'sterile' for example, up to a certain point in time, beyond which they're not prepared to guarantee it will remain so, regardless.

The other factor is things degrade over time. You could open a dressing that disintegrated into dust, depending on the state of packaging, seal, and storage conditions. It's happened Surprised

A lot of people in a home situation wouldn't be overly worried about a lot of this stuff. In a work or professional setting subject to inspection and regulation, it's a very different matter.

You can always recycle your out of date bandages to first aid trainers, who are always looking for this stuff. I cried the first time I bought bandages for people to practice with, when I remembered the amount of stuff I was forced to dump over the years.
frewen

My take (for what its worth but dont take any of it as gospel)

Things that are medicated will degrade over time so I wouldn't keep medicated dressings (although I might keep them as a secondary pressure bandage and not for their original purpose).

Standard non medicated dressings and bandages I wouldn't worry about too much, as long as they haven't started to fall apart. If you wanted to and had a biscuit tin, time, crepe paper and cotton handkerchiefs, resterilise them using the oven.... but you'd have to google timings and temperatures. I say time because autoclaves use pressure, steam and really high temperatures to shorten the time taken to sterilise (calls to mind a pressure cooker there!). I have been tempted to try this "just because it is possible" - but then I get a bit carried away with an idea sometimes Embarassed Laughing

Plasters don't last long around here so I haven't come across the loss of stickiness.
RichardW

My take on the out of date stuff is to use it.


The idea is that the injured party gets to hospital without dying. The hospital can then sort out any infection that might have been caused by an out of date item.

What would you do if someone was bleeding out & you have no first aid kit?

Yep that sweaty T shirt, sock or what ever your wearing but is covered in bacteria will do.
Cathryn

On the same lines, does anyone keep that sealing spray for burns in their medical kit? I cannot remember the last time anyone needed it here but a friend showed me a very nasty burn - or it would have been if she hadn't sprayed it. Apparently it reduced the pain and it was clearly healing well.


The main problem I have with medical kits is remembering to use them. I don't think I have any antiseptic cream of any kind in ours. I do however have tea tree and lavender oil always available in the house which I have used at times.
toggle

My take on the out of date stuff is to use it.


The idea is that the injured party gets to hospital without dying. The hospital can then sort out any infection that might have been caused by an out of date item.

What would you do if someone was bleeding out & you have no first aid kit?

Yep that sweaty T shirt, sock or what ever your wearing but is covered in bacteria will do.
trauma nurse told me that the chances of someone getting infected from a non sterile dressing was low if they were bleeding heavily. this after he had wrapped someone's hand in their t shirt when they sliced it open on a beer glass.
Treacodactyl

On the same lines, does anyone keep that sealing spray for burns in their medical kit? I cannot remember the last time anyone needed it here but a friend showed me a very nasty burn - or it would have been if she hadn't sprayed it. Apparently it reduced the pain and it was clearly healing well.

Funnily enough I've just purchased a couple of cooling burn dressings as I burn myself quite badly a while ago. I know you cool with water, and in the end I cooled my hand with dirty ditch water as the flesh wasn't broken but I thought a proper dressing would be a wise precaution.

As mentioned earlier in this thread, I would use old dressings if that's all I had and I've used an old towel and kitchen paper to stem the flow of blood on a serious wound in the past but there comes a point when I'm happy to replace old dressings that are obviously showing their age.

As has been suggested I'll use some of the old dressings for training and try sterilising the ones that seem up to it.
Londonworms

I do however have tea tree and lavender oil always available in the house which I have used at times.

When I were a lad, my mum had two, count them, two, pieces of kit that saw us all safely through childhood and adolescence:

* a few gallons of Iodine

*Bread poulices for everything else

Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy

As for plasters - never heard of such things, let the air get at it Very Happy
Gervase

Urine is good for burns, as it's sterile. Which puts a new slant on the dismissive "I wouldn't p*ss on X if s/he was on fire"!
As for dressings, I've seen med kits with dressings bearing pack dates as old as me. Provided they're stable and the packaging is intact, I wouldn't worry.
And if you're the sort who really does fret about a "use by" date on a dressing when faced with a sucking chest wound rather than reaching for a plastic bag and gaffer tape, perhaps first-aid isn't for you! Wink
Treacodactyl

Urine is good for burns, as it's sterile.

I wouldn't have thought it was that cooling. I thought it was ok for some jellyfish stings though?

As for fretting about dates, I would have thought by now it was clear I'm not - it seems to be everyone else that's fretting about me fretting.
Cathryn

Perish the thought that we should read an entire post, where would be the fun? Smile Ty Gwyn

[quote="Gervase:1284821"]Urine is good for burns, as it's sterile. Which puts a new slant on the dismissive "I wouldn't p*ss on X if s/he was on fire"!

Its also good for hardening your hands,so you dont get blisters.if you ve run out of surgical spirits.
dpack

a slight sideways but a first aid kit should be seperate to a pre hospital trauma life support kit .the latter is a good idea if you are more than 10 mins from an ambulance especially if one has a "rural" lifestyle of critters and machinary and guns and dangeroos roads

plasters etc and eyewash kits can be had for about 15 and un opened last for years

phtls kits are best collected and boxed according to likely need ,

a "farm" kit in case of rural trama might include

large thermal blanket (waterproof ,insulating ,clean)
several large absorbant field dressings
touniquet
cellox (or similar coagulant)
several one way thoracic valves (if the chest puncture dont kill ,collapsed lungs will )
several large burn dressings (high tech gel ones )

rescue tool ,gaffer tape,paramedic scissors ,safety pins ,etc are useful and all will fit in a small package with the above in a well known location ,next to the spare fire extinguisers is a good spot

none of that kit takes much training to know how to be very useful with it if bad things happen

it seems a bit hardcore but tis something to work with while waiting for an ambulance or helicopter ,
dpack

iirc

www.spservices.co.uk/

have lots of useful kit
Pilsbury


You can always recycle your out of date bandages to first aid trainers, who are always looking for this stuff. I cried the first time I bought bandages for people to practice with, when I remembered the amount of stuff I was forced to dump over the years.

And on that very subject I have just asked my manager to start a box that instead of throwing out stuff every month that is out of date we give it to a first aid trainer to use or someone like the scouts or st johns for training, I have asked her to email local home and I'm going to suggest t at a national level but no promises.
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