Do first aid kits expire?

First aid kits do not last forever. Certain components within them expire. Generally, the lifespan of the items in a first aid kit is between 3 – 5 years. Listed below are the items that you would need to watch out for in case they expire:

Medications and Ointments

Over-the-counter medications, pain relievers, antiseptics, and ointments included in first aid kits have expiration dates. After these dates, the medications may start to degrade, making them less effective or, in some cases, potentially harmful.

Adhesive Products

Over time, adhesive products like bandages and tapes might lose their stickiness, rendering them less effective at securing dressings or supporting injuries.

Sterile Items

Items that are meant to be sterile, such as gauze pads and wound dressings, are packaged to maintain their sterility until a specific date. After this date, the integrity of the packaging cannot be guaranteed, potentially compromising the sterility of the item inside.


Solutions like saline or eyewash can degrade or become contaminated over time, especially if the seal is compromised.

Physical Changes

Even if not explicitly expired, any items that show signs of wear, damage, discoloration, or unusual odour should be replaced.

To ensure that a first aid kit remains effective:

  • Regularly check the contents for any expired items.
  • Replace any items that have been used or are nearing their expiration date.
  • Store the kit in a cool, dry place and away from direct sunlight to extend the life of its components.

Other than a first aid kit, what else do you need?

The Health and Safety Regulations 1981 require UK employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill.

By having a first aid kit in the workplace you can prove that you have ‘appropriate equipment’, if ever this were challenged in a court by an employee who was injured.

In addition to appropriate equipment, you should have appropriate personnel.

Meeting the requirement for appropriate personnel can be as simple as ensuring that at least one first-aid trained staff is present in the workplace while work is being conducted.

First aid training doesn’t need to be expensive. An independently accredited, fully compliant, online first aid course costs just £16 per person if you order it here. The online course takes 1- 2 hours to complete.

The course includes an exam and a certificate to demonstrate first aid competence.