While telling adventure stories with a couple of friends, the incident of a falling rock and a bloody forehead gash came up.
“After that trip, I went and bought a first aid kit,” a group member told my paramedic husband, “and always carry one now.”
As the conversation continued, my mind stayed behind with the subject of injuries.
When you’re adventuring outdoors, straining your body and travelling among hazards, often not within cell service—accidents happen.
Common outdoor injuries include cuts and scrapes, bruises, burns (sun and fire), bug bites, sprains and dehydration. Some are inevitable, but you don’t have to be a paramedic know how to avoid and deal with injuries when they happen!
It might be obvious, but above all, use caution. When you’ve been hiking for a couple of hours and are getting tired, it’s easy to zone out and become careless of where you put your feet. Roots, rocks and uneven ground are the definition of a trail, so stay alert to the varying terrain to prevent both falls and feeling clumsy.
Good hiking boots prevent blisters, rolled ankles, slips and trips. Grip, ankle support and a perfect fit are essential. If you start feeling hot spots on your feet, take the time to stop and apply a bandage or a preventative blister dressing to prevent a full-blown blister. However, we suggest packing an antiseptic cream or spray like BETADINE® Antiseptic with you on your adventures so in the event you do get a blister and it pops, you are prepared with the right tools to prevent infection.
You should prioritize adding a first aid kit to your supplies. It doesn’t have to take up much space in your pack: a small, light first aid kit should be enough to deal with a bleeding gash. Know what’s inside the kit and replace supplies as you use them. For example, keep a full bottle of BETADINE® Antiseptic Spray or Cream in your kit, along with a bundle of bandages to deal with any minor cuts, scrapes or burns.
A first aid kit is only as good as the person carrying it, so make sure you know how to use the supplies inside.
Cuts, wounds and burns acquired in the outdoors are bound to have dirt and bacteria in and around them. Avoiding infection is important. Before applying a bandage, you’ll need to clean the wound and surrounding area with BETADINE® Antiseptic Spray, a quick on-the-go broad spectrum antiseptic and antibiotic-free treatment which rapidly kills germs and helps prevent infections. First, stem any bleeding by applying pressure with a clean towel, buff or whatever you have available. Rinse the area with some water to flush out any dirt and gently pat dry. Apply the spray directly on and around the wound and cover with a bandage—this way you won’t need to touch the wounded area at all.
When you are carrying the BETADINE® Antiseptic Cream instead of the spray, make sure your hands and the wound are clean before you apply it, as you would the spray.
More ways to stay safe
Gear choices, from clothes to boots, should be informed by terrain, season and weather. Recognize the numbing effect cold can have on decision making and alertness, and pack an extra layer or two even if you don’t think you’ll need it!
Consider taking and wearing a pair of gloves to prevent scrapes and cuts if you’ll be doing any rock scrambling.
Use trekking poles for balance and stability, especially when gaining or losing elevation. Hiking poles divide uphill work between legs and upper body while reducing impact on the downhill. They’ve saved me from nasty slips multiple times, especially while crossing creeks!
Keep your distance from the person in front of you. Following too close behind someone on the trail makes you a perfect target for falling rocks and snap-back branches. This is something I learned quickly as a child, spending hours in the woods and emerging with a branch-lashed face. If you’re hiking up a steep slope and falling rocks are a possibility, stagger your path so you aren’t in direct line of shale fire loosened by your hiking buddy above you.
Ample water supply is essential in preventing dehydration, which can happen quickly while hiking even if it isn’t hot out. Bring a water purification option or two as well, so you can safely stock back up from nature if you run out of liquids.
Pack sunscreen or long sleeves for when the sun starts beating down to prevent scorching your skin. Keep in mind this is possible even in the winter! Speaking of blinding snow, bring sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Despite taking precautions, injuries can still happen, so hit the trail prepared for the possibility of small slashes and punctures.
Time spent in the outdoors is refreshing and healthy. Avoiding injuries and being prepared to deal with any accidents ensures it will be a safe, enjoyable experience.
This article was sponsored by BETADINE®