Minor First Aid Treatment for Hikers: A Wilderness Guide

Minor First Aid Treatment for HikersNo matter if you’re hiking on the local trails at Cheesequake State Park, trekking through the water cascades and lush paths of Coppermines Trail or backpacking on vacation somewhere in the wilderness, you should be prepared for anything to happen… at any time. The purpose of this first aid treatment for hikers guide is to provide you and your loved ones with a general overview should the unexpected accident occur.

Note: These guidelines should not be considered final, as they are constantly updated to reflect current standards of care. See the American Red Cross Wilderness and Remote First Aid Emergency Reference Guide for more information.

Building a Minor First Aid Treatment Kit for Hikers

Staying safe in the wilderness starts at home. Before leaving the house for a hike through the woods, prepare a first aid treatment kit; this is an essential part of your hiking equipment.

A first aid kit’s supplies should be customized to include those items that are likely used on a regular basis, such as medications, insect repellent, a multi-use tool and a small roll of duct tape. But the base of your personal wilderness first aid kit should include the following:

  • Adhesive bandages (6)
  • Sterile gauze pads, 3-×-3-inch (2)
  • Adhesive tape (1 small roll)
  • Moleskin, 3-×-6-inch (1)
  • Soap (1 small bar) or alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel (1 travel-sized bottle)
  • Wound gel (1 small tube)
  • Scissors (1 pair)
  • Latex-free medical exam gloves (1 pair)
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) breathing barrier (1)
  • Tweezers (1)
  • Wilderness and Remote First Aid Report Form/Rescue Request and pencil

Already have a kit? It’s wise to take inventory of it and check expiration dates on all medications.

5 Common Injuries and Minor First Aid Treatment for Hikers

Some common hiking injuries include insect bites and bee stings, cuts and blisters, sprains and fractures, dehydration and sunburns.

1. Insect Bites and Bee Stings – Insect bites, such as those from spiders, mosquitoes and ticks and stings from bees, are common when you’re out in the wilderness. Your best defense is to cover up properly and avoid grassy areas. If symptoms are minimal, for example, the area of the bite is red, itchy or slightly swollen, use an antihistamine to stop the itch and ice to cool the area.

2. Blisters and Cuts – Although not technically a medical emergency, blisters are all too common and can ruin your trip if they’re not handled well. To treat a blister, wash the area and sterilize a sharp point with alcohol to drain the fluid out. Cover the area with antibiotic ointment to prevent the lanced hole from infection.

For cuts with bleeding, apply pressure to the wound area to stop the bleeding first. Once bleeding has been controlled, the next step is to think about preventing infection and promoting proper healing. Wash, or “irrigate” the wound with clean water to flush out any dirt and germs that may have made their way into the wound and under the skin. Use an alcohol wipe (from your first aid kit) to wipe the skin around the wound. Once clean, cover it with antibiotic ointment and clean gauze, wrap securely in place.

3. Sprains and Fractures – Soft tissue injuries to the knee and ankles are the most common things people need to be rescued for. Use the common “RICE” acronym as a guide: R-Rest, I-Ice (alternate 20-30 minutes of cooling with 15 to naturally rewarm), C-Compression (wrap securely with an ace wrap, ensuring circulation is preserved, E-Elevation (have victim lie down and elevate feet above their heart).

4. Dehydration – Water supports brain function, helps keep joints lubricated, boosts healing process and supports a healthy digestive system. Once you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, so be sure to carry plenty of water in your Camelbak and an extra water bottle with you on the trails and another in the car for when you’re done.

5. Burns and Sunburns – If you’re camping on your hike, you’re likely handling fire and boiling water. Burns, including sunburns, are common when you’re outside. Your treatment will depend on the severity of the burn, but the first step for a minor burn is to treat the affected area with cold, clean water and then cover the burned area with antibiotic ointment and clean gauze. And then follow up with a medical professional.

Follow Up with a Comprehensive Exam at eMedical

Minor First Aid Treatment for HikersFirst aid treatment should be the first thing you do after you or a loved one sustains an injury on the trials, but it’s not the only thing. Once you make your way safely off the trails, visit your nearest eMedical Urgent Care clinic for a comprehensive exam.

Learn more about our services and how we can treat you and your family by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

5 Tips for Summer Lawn Mower Safety

Summer Lawn Mower Safety TipsMowing the lawn can either feel like a chore or a time to relax and connect with nature. Either way, the sight and fragrance of freshly cut grass is pleasant to most, but without the proper precautions, lawn care can be a dangerous activity. Whether you’re gardening, mowing, mulching, planting or weeding, appropriate precautions and adequate protection can go a long way toward safe summer work. These 5 lawnmower safety tips will help you tackle the last of summer’s yard chores.

1. Schedule Your Outdoor Chores

Plan your yard work around the coolest parts of the day to avoid overheating. Sunlight exposure (and exposure to UV rays) is greatest when the sun is at its highest in the sky between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

2. Wear Proper Attire

Although outdoor safety apparel may not be the most fashionable, wearing the appropriate attire when you’re doing yard work can prevent a number of injuries including the prevention of burns, stings, bites and rashes. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts will reduce mosquito and tick bites and minimize contact with potential poisonous plants like poison ivy or poison oak. Go ahead and put on that wide-brimmed hat to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays and defend against ticks as well. And although it’s not fun to think about, consider tucking your pant legs into your socks to avoid any creepy crawly up-the-leg guests.

3. Stay Hydrated

Hard work and high temperatures can quickly lead to dehydration. Drink before you get thirsty and avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol and sugar. Untreated dehydration can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat stroke. Take regular breaks in the shade and keep your water bottle handy.

4. Never Reach Under

Here’s a scary stat: Underneath a lawnmower deck, the steel cutting blade spins at more than 2,000 revolutions per minute (upwards of 200 m.p.h.). According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, “The energy transferred by a typical lawn mower blade is equivalent to being shot in the hand with a .357 magnum pistol.” That is certainly enough to mangle a hand or foot. Never run the mower without safety equipment (dead-man switch, blade brake, chute guard, etc.).

5. Prevent Projectiles

Before you turn on the mower, check the lawn for loose objects (rocks or toys) that could turn into projectiles if they become stuck. Be aware of your surroundings while the mower is in motion and keep children and pets a safe distance away to prevent a serious injury. Wear shades or safety glasses to protect against eye injuries and also block UV radiation.

Call on eMedical Urgent Care

Yard chores are a must for every home-owner and with the proper safety tips, it can actually be an enjoyable experience. In the case of an accident, never hesitate to contact EMO Middletown NJ (732) 957-0707 or EMO Berkeley Heights (908) 464-6700 for quick and reliable urgent care assistance!

Tips for Identifying and Preventing Heat Exhaustion and Dehydration

Some say, “By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.” Staying hydrated is very Heat Exhaustionimportant in the hot New Jersey summer months, especially if your body is trying to fight off an illness, if you’re engaging in physically activity, or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

eMedical Urgent Care can help you understand and identify the signs and symptoms of heat illnesses, how to treat them and (most importantly) how to protect yourself and your child against the dangers of becoming dehydrated in the first place. So, grab your water bottle and read on to enjoy a hydrated and happy summer.

Dehydration

Signs of dehydration do in fact include the sensation of thirst and a dry mouth (cotton mouth) as well as dry skin, decreased or yellow urine, headaches and dizziness. Severe dehydration also can cause extreme thirst, fatigue, irritability and confusion. Since your body can lose fluids through sweat, urination, diarrhea or vomiting, it’s best to replenish before activity, at regular intervals during and continue drinking water after exercise.

Dehydration can be expressed as the loss of percentage of body weight. Scientists define dehydration as fluid losses greater than only one percent. Water is lost first from the blood, which is 90% water. (Dehydration can become fatal when 9-12% of your body weight is lost via fluids.) On the average, water makes up 60 to 70% of your body weight. Different cells contain different percentages of water, for example: muscle cells are 70 to 75% water whereas fat cells are only 10 to 15% water. Therefore, a muscular person will have a larger percentage of his or her body weight coming from water.

What is Heat Exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is a condition that generally includes intense sweating and an increased heart rate due to your body’s response to overheating. It is usually caused from a prolonged exposure to hot temperatures (especially when involved in physical activity and high levels of humidity).

Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Intense sweating
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness / fainting
  • Significant increase in heart rate
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Sudden headache

Other Heat-Related Illnesses

In addition to heat exhaustion, untreated dehydration can lead to two other heat-related illnesses including heat cramps and heat stroke. Heat cramps are the least aggressive of the three and include painful cramps of the abdominals, arms or legs. Heat stroke requires immediate care and includes severe symptoms such as 104 temperature or higher, nausea, vomiting, seizures, disorientation, lack of sweating, shortness of breath, unconsciousness and could even lead to a coma.

Don’t Let Your Body Fool You, Stay Hydrated!

It’s even easier to dehydrate during the hot summer months when sweat evaporates faster and losing large amounts of fluids might not be as noticeable. According to the old rule of thumb, drink eight glasses of water per day (some experts recommend even more), but you also can quench your thirst by consuming hydrating foods (all of which are at least 90% water by weight) including: cucumber, lettuce, celery, radishes, tomatoes, green peppers, cauliflower, watermelon, spinach, star fruit, strawberries, broccoli, grapefruit, carrots and cantaloupe.

Replenish Fluids and Electrolytes

Remember, anyone may become dehydrated, but young children, older adults and people with chronic illnesses are most at risk. If you or a loved one experience any of the symptoms above, it is important to seek shade, rest and drink plenty of hydrating fluids. Extreme dehydration and heat stroke are medical emergencies that require immediate attention, possibly including a saline IV. Don’t ever hesitate to seek medical attention from the doctors at eMedical Urgent Care in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.