How to treat camping injuries - First aid in the woods
How to treat camping injuries - First aid in the woods
While going outdoors and camping is generally a very fun and exciting experience, it has its issues. You should not overextend your capabilities and go for a full month camping if you have never done camping before. That is why going on our camping tour is a great, harmless way of enjoying the beauty of wild nature.
When planning a camping trip, besides the necessary equipment, you need to take into account the possibility of injury. Getting minor injuries is annoying, and in order to treat them you should be prepared. These are the most common camping injuries and how to treat them.
#1 Cuts and Abrasions
Proper treatment of a cut or an abrasion while camping is not really that much different than treating a cut in a more secure environment. The first thing you need to do is to stop the bleeding. Once you got that covered you have to clean the wound. It is very important to not ,,clean’’ a wound using water from the stream, lake or river. It does not matter if the water is good for drinking. While it might not be polluted with chemicals, there might be bacteria in the water that can infect the wound.
It is far better to use liquids such as rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. Next step, after you have stopped the bleeding and cleaned the wound, is to apply an antiseptic cream and to properly bandage it. The ability to successfully treat a cut or abrasion will largely depend on the quality of the first aid kid you brought. So be sure to have all the necessary supplies for dealing with this kind of injuries before you go out on a camping trip.
#2 Sprained Ankle
It is very common to lose traction on loose gravel or on a steep trail and turn an ankle in the process. As a matter of fact, injuries regarding sprained ankles account for more than half of all injury related evacuations. To deal with a twisted ankle, it is good to remember the RICE technique: rest, ice, compression and elevation. In the world of difficult regulation of medical device and other medicinal products, especially if you're travelling in various different countries with questionable health systems, it is safer to keep it simple, and prevent your health as good as possible.
The first step is to rest the ankle. If you sprain your ankle, hop on your other leg immediately. Next thing you need to do is to put ice on it to reduce swelling. Depending on the time of the year, you can use snow packs, ice from your container, (if you have one), beer, or just soak a piece of cloth in cold water and wrap it around the troublesome ankle. C is for compression, use an elastic band to compress the joint, but don’t do it too tight or it will cut of circulation. Last thing to do is to elevate the ankle. Raise your foot above the level of the heart. Use RICE for 15 - 20 minutes, then let the ankle warm up for the next 15 minutes. You should be able to continue with your hike. Take a break for every two hours and do the RICE technique again.
You probably heard it before - prevention is the best medicine. If you have plenty of time ahead of your trip, lose weight if necessary, strengthen your ankle muscles, buy good hiking boots. Best prevention on the spot is to warm up the muscles with a couple of stretches and exercises before a hike. Also, avoid going in the dark or on uneven terrain.
#3 Insect bites
Bugs are annoying, that’s a fact. You can defend yourself against mosquitos and other less harmful insects quite easily, just carry an insect repellent and be sure to wear it 24/7. Great addition to your mosquito defense is an anti-itch cream. If you know you are allergic to bees or other fairly common insects make sure to bring an EpiPen.
Tweezers are a must for dealing with insects such as wasps, bees and ticks. Ticks are especially dangerous because they can carry Lyme disease. We repeat, wear insect repellent! But, if you happen to notice a tick (check your body regularly, those bastards are tiny) the best way to remove a tick is to grab its head as closely to your skin as you can. Clean the area with alcohol and bandage it. Removing a tick within 36 hours greatly reduces the risk of getting Lyme disease.
#4 Snake bites
If you come upon a snake, don’t mess with it and just walk away. Snakes are shy and they do not want to waste their venom on something they can’t eat. However, if you happen to get bitten you should know this:
- Do not panic. Seriously, panicking will not help you at all. Even venomous snakes do not inject venom all the time. Last thing you need is to get lost because of panicking.
- Check for fang marks. That way you will know whether the snake is venomous or not.
- Get help. Do not try to walk it off. If you need antivenin it is best to get during couple of hours after the bite.
- Drink non caffeinated, non alcoholic liquids. Swelling can cause dehydration.
- DO NOT: cut into the marks, try to suck the poison out, use ice, or use a tourniquet. Forget anything you thought you knew about snake bites. These things do not help at all.
#5 Skin injuries
Skin protection is very important when going outdoors. A rash caused by poison ivy or sumac can be very unpleasant. If you get a rash, you should clean it with clean water. Also clean the clothes that came into contact with these plants. After cleaning you can use poison ivy treatment if you have one (you should have it).
Sun burns are also dangerous. Apply sunscreen and wear hats to protect your head. If you get burned, find shade, drink plenty of water and apply aloe vera on the affected skin.
#6 Weather related injuries
Depending on the area and time of the year, weather related injuries include frostbite, dehydration and heat stroke. Preparation is the key for preventing these injuries. Pack appropriate clothes and enough fresh water for drinking. If you are out in the cold, read how to make a campfire.
As we already said. The best way to deal with an injury is to avoid it. So take great care and do all the prep work before going into the wild.