Sunday, July 12, 2015

List:07 Emergency Situations

A few typical backcountry emergencies and how to handle them:

Splinter or sting: use the needle from your sewing kit or the tweezers from your first aid kit. If it's a sting, take a Benedryl if it starts to puff up.

Something in your eye: flush with water bottle or hydration hose. You could also use the backflush syringe from your filter kit. If this possibility really scares you, add a small squeeze bottle of eye drops to your kit.

Something in your ear: use the eye wash method to flush your ear out. You can also use warmed cooking oil to float it out if there is a bug in there. Seriously.

Chipped or broken tooth: Use your tooth cement. You will have to head home ASAP in this situation.
For normal sensitive teeth that act up from time to time leaving you in discomfort, get some sensitive tooth gel from your dentist or OTC (dentist has better stuff) and use that instead of regular toothpaste for the duration of the trip. Keep in mind you should not eat or drink for half an hour after using.

Sprained ankle or knee: Let it rest at least 24 hours. Take Tylenol to keep the swelling down, put it in a cold stream if at all possible and before putting weight on it, tape the ankle (watch a YouTube video before you head out) and wrap it well. Dispurse as much pack contents to others as you can, use hiking poles or stick to take as much weight off the foot as possible, head home.

Scrapes: wash to remove any grit from wound, smear with ointment, leave uncovered unless it's too painful, such as a knee getting rubbed by pants leg.

Bruises: soak a cloth in cold water and lay on the spot, take some Tylenol.

Cuts that bleed: let them bleed a short while to clear out any debris, then stop the bleeding with a clean water soaked cloth, pack with ointment, cover. Keep clean.

Cuts that REALLY bleed: if it's bad and gashed open, put pressure directly on the gushing blood vessel and leave it there for at least 15 minutes to allow the body to form a clot. Don't try a tourniquet, don't press the nearest pressure point. Cover the wound and get help. If it looks deep enough to need stitches, get to the ER. Digging around for debris, trying to close it up without actual training can cause it to start bleeding again. 

If it stops bleeding and stays stopped, wash out and around the wound with just clean water with or without soap and cover it with ointment and gauze or a clean bandanna. If it's just a good gouge and they want to keep going and you have the first aid supplies to keep it clean and disinfected, keep going.

The most likely thing on this list, other than scrapes, will be tummy disorders. If you know you are prone, take what you need in your first aid kit. Keep in mind working your body all day and then eating 1000 calorie dinners and getting right into bed can lead to some interesting bowel activity. Heartburn is very common as is diarrhea. You can pick up all kinds of gunk from not having clean hands, keep them washed after you poop and use a little squirt of sanitizer from time to time.

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