How to Treat Three Common Outdoor Injuries

A high-quality first aid kit includes the tools you need for when things go wrong.

Woman administering first aid to a man's knee.
You never plan on having an accident, but you should plan on ways to address them whenever one occurs.Be Smart Get Prepared

What happens if you take your family on a camping trip and one of your kids accidentally slips and burns a leg in the campfire? Or what if you and your friends are on a hike and one of them severely sprains an ankle? Even worse, what happens if you’re on a winter hunting trip and one of your companions begins showing signs of hypothermia? While we do our best to avoid these and similar situations, they’re not dire emergencies unless you don’t have the equipment and know-how to quickly address the injury. Treating cuts and burns, sprains and strains, and hypothermia and heat stroke aren’t that complicated if you follow these procedures.

Cuts and Burns

Swiss Safe First Piece
This lightweight kit has all the supplies needed to address cuts and burns sustained during outdoor adventures.Swiss Safe

Cuts, scrapes, and burns are frequently part of outdoor excursions, and there’s little wonder why. Most hiking, backpacking, and camping adventures take place in rugged country, which leads to the cuts and scrapes. Often, campfires are common, which can lead to a burn. To treat cuts and abrasions, first stop the bleeding. Then use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide to wash any dirt and debris out of the wound. Lastly, put some first aid ointment or Neosporin over the wound and cover it with a bandage. Burns are also easy to treat if you have the right gear. First, wash the burned area with cool, clean water and apply antibiotic ointment or burn gel. Then cover it with a dressing. A moist dressing is fine for a small burn, but if the burn covers more than 1 to 2 percent of the body, use a dry dressing.

Sprains and Strains

Be Smart Get Prepared 250Piece First Aid Kit
This kit contains instant cold packs for treating sprains and strains, the most common types of outdoor injuries.Be Smart Get Prepared

Sprains and strains are also very common injuries in the great outdoors, with sprained ankles being the most frequent. In fact, according to recent data, 70 percent of non-fatal injuries in the wilderness are related to broken limbs or sprains. To treat sprains and strains, the time-tested RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) method is nearly always the most effective. First, rest the affected area by getting weight off of it. Icing the area well is the second order of business, and it will help reduce swelling and inflammation. Compress the joint by using an elastic band but take care not to get it so tight it impedes circulation. Last, elevate the injured area above the level of the heart. Back on the trail, make frequent pit stops to perform the RICE procedure again.

Hypothermia and Hyperthermia

Everlit Emergency Survival Compatible
This kit contains thermal blankets and a fire starter, both very useful for treating cases of hypothermia.Everlit

Hypothermia is the lowering of the body temperature to extreme levels and it can be very dangerous, even deadly. If a companion shows signs of hypothermia—confusion, lack of coordination and speech difficulties—the Mayo Clinic suggests you first gently get the person out of the cold. Remove his or her wet clothing and cover with blankets or thermal blankets. Additionally, keep the person’s body from touching the cold ground and provide warm beverages. Hyperthermia is just the opposite of hypothermia and is frequently called heat stroke. Symptoms can include dizziness, nausea, weakness, thirst, and a headache. To treat someone with hyperthermia, cool them off by applying ice packs or cold water to the neck, groin, and armpits. Also, sponge or spray them with water and fan their skin. Lastly, have them drink cold water if they are conscious to start cooling down from the inside.

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