Accidents happen at work. Most of the time, we don’t expect it. But thankfully, there are first aid kits at your place of business just for those moments.

First aid kits are our most trusted and effective tool for dealing with minor cuts, scrapes, burns, and even more severe injuries like fractures until professional medical assistance is available.

But what happens when our trusted and reliable health kit isn’t inspected over a long time? You guessed right, it expires.

Wait, what? First aid kits expire!!

Well, it depends on the contents of the kit. If all of the contents in the kit have an expiry date, then the first aid kit can, in general, be said to expire.

However, if only a few items in the kit have an expiration date, then only those items, not the entire first aid kit, can expire.

Now we have gotten that out of the way, let us see some items in the kit that can expire.

What items expire in a first aid kit?

Several items make up the first aid kit, and some of them contain expiry dates while some do not. Let us look at some of those items that expire or lose value over time in a first aid kit.

  1. Bandages — Bandages generally do not come with expiry dates, but this item loses its adhesiveness and sterility over time. This makes it both inefficient and unsafe for medical use. 

They have a shelf-life of 3 – 5 years, which depends on their type and the environment they are stored in.

  1. Instant Cold Pack — This item becomes ineffective after it has been opened or used or if the material used in storing its component becomes leaky, which leads to exposure.

It has a shelf-life of 2 years which strongly depends on its storage.

  1. Medical Gloves — Just like the others listed above, the longevity of medical gloves depends on how it is stored, and the type of material used in production.
  1. Medications — Every medicine in a first aid kit contains an expiry date. It is unsafe to take expired medicine. Expired medication can be ineffective or, it could become deadly to the consumer, as it has undergone significant changes in its chemical composition.

By law, every medication should have an expiration date.

How do I inspect my first aid kit?

If you want your first aid kit to be a reliable source of help during your time of emergency, then it should be regularly inspected.

Here are ways you can do that:

  1. Develop the habit of inspecting your first aid kit at least once a year if it is not used for a long time. If used regularly, you should review and restock it after each use.
  2. Sort out expired items or items that may have been damaged or contaminated.
  3. Immediately dispose of any expired, damaged, or opened supply that you find.
  4. Use a clean cloth and an antiseptic to clean the surfaces of metal items like the sterile blades and scissors.
  5. Bring the newest items in front and take older items to the back.
  6. After each inspection, create an inventory list, sign (if you used a book or a paper), and also write the date.

About the expired supplies, how exactly should I dispose of them?

Expired supplies can be disposed of in the trash. There are no specific instructions on how to dispose of them. But careless disposal of these medications can endanger your kids, pets, friends, and even unsuspecting strangers.

To avoid such a situation, certain guidelines should be followed.

Guidelines for disposal of expired supplies

  1. Remove them from their original packaging and combine them with something unwanted, such as discarded coffee grounds or kitten litter. Children and cats may find the medication less enticing, and it will be unidentifiable to people who may go through your trash on purpose.
  2. To prevent the medication from spilling or breaking out of a waste bag, place it in a sealed container bag, empty can, or other containers.
  3. Remove any personal information that could be on the prescription label.
  4. If you’re using injections, make sure you recap the needle immediately so it doesn’t cause any harm. Before discarding the syringe barrel, make sure there is no liquid medication left in it.


Let’s go through everything we have learned in a step-by-step manner.

  1. We have understood that items in a first aid kit can expire, and we were able to point out a few of those items to pay close attention to.
  2. Regularly inspecting our first aid kit helps us keep account of unusable equipment.
  3. There are no specific instructions on the proper disposal of unusable supplies, but there are guidelines we can follow to make sure we are keeping ourselves and the next person safe from potential harm.

Don’t think you’ll be able to handle all that?

Yes, we understand that managing your first aid kits and supplies can be a pain managing, especially as your still running your daily business. We have a solution to reduce your stress, make you compliant and make sure your ready for first aid emergencies.

A representative from First Aid Direct – Atlanta will visit your location to inspect and refill your first aid supplies on a monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly schedule depending on your needs, to guarantee you are OSHA compliant, thanks to our First Aid Supplies & On-Site Service program.

Examining the expiration dates of your first aid supplies, and replacing them with fresh, new supplies will be part of that inspection service.

Overall, we at First Aid Direct – Atlanta will assist you in maintaining OSHA compliance while also promoting employee health and safety by ensuring that your first aid kits are stocked with the necessary and non-expired first aid supplies. 

Remember, safety doesn’t happen by accident.