Adventure Medical Kits - Adventure Discussions
24h-payday
     Archive for the ‘Our Experts’ Category
« Older EntriesNewer Entries »

Basic First Aid Skills-Identifying and Addressing Altitude Sickness

Monday, October 10th, 2016

thinkstock_people-with-dog-hikingMountain sickness is an illness that can affect mountain climbers, hikers, skiers, or travelers at high altitudes, usually above 8,000 feet (2,400 meters). On your next trip to the mountains, be sure to watch yourself and your companions for signs of altitude sickness as you travel to higher elevations.

Taken from Adventure Medical Kits’ Wilderness & Travel Medicine Guide, By Dr. Eric A. Weiss

What causes Altitude Illness or Mountain Sickness? Altitude Illness is a direct result of the reduced barometric pressure and concentration of oxygen in the air at high elevations. The lower pressure makes the air less dense, so each time we breathe each inhalation contains fewer oxygen molecules and the body begins to feel deprived resulting in headaches, shortness of breath, weakness and nausea.

Prevention

  • Follow the “Golden Rule of Altitude Illness”- Above 8000 feet, assume headaches, shortness of breath, nausea or vomiting should be considered altitude illness until proven otherwise. Even with mild symptoms, symptoms should be addressed and/or resolved before continuing to higher elevations. Anyone with worsening symptoms or severe symptoms should descend immediately to lower altitudes.
  • Graded ascents are the best and safest method for preventing illness. Average no more than 1,000 feet of elevation gain per day after 10,000 feet.
  • Avoid abrupt ascent to sleeping altitudes greater than 10,000 feet.
  • Day trips to higher altitudes with returns to lower altitudes for sleeping will aid in acclimatization.
  • Eating food high in carbohydrates and low in fat and staying well hydrated helps.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol consumption

Mild Altitude Illness: Acute Mountain Sickness

Signs and Symptoms

Acute Mountain Sickness is common in travelers who ascend rapidly to altitudes about 7,000 feet. They typical sufferer experiences a headache, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, and nausea. Swelling of the face or hands may be an early sign. Children are generally more susceptible than adults.

Treatment

  • With mild symptoms, refrain from going any higher in elevation.
  • Watch the victim closely for worsening symptoms.
  • Usually, within 1-2 days, the victim will feel better and can travel to higher elevations with caution.
  • For headaches, administer acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Ibuprofen. Follow directions for dosing.
  • Minimize exertion
  • Avoid sleeping pills
  • Visit a medical professional for a prescription of Diamox (a drug that aids in relieving symptoms)

When to Worry

Severe Altitude Illness-High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) or High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)

If the victim presents the following, seek IMMEDIATE Medical Help and assist the victim in descending immediately at least 3000 feet and administer oxygen.

  • Marked breathlessness upon minor exertion
  • A severe headache unrelieved by Tylenol or Ibuprofen.
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of coordination
  • Confusion, hallucinations, stupor or coma
  • Transient blindness, partial paralysis or loss of sensation on one side of the body.
  • A dry hacking cough
  • Anxiety, restlessness, and rapid pulse
  • Bluish color of the lips and nails, indicating poor oxygen in the blood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seasickness — How to Avoid it & Treat it

Friday, August 19th, 2016

vector cartoon illustration

Plan on sailing this summer and fall? Before you do, check out this post from Adventure®  Medical Kits’ marine medicine consultant Dr. Michael Jacobs for tips on dealing with that common ailment that afflicts many boating enthusiasts — seasickness.

Seasickness (mal de mer) is the sailor’s most common and dreaded ailment; susceptibility is virtually universal. Untreated, seasickness leads to rapid physical and mental deterioration, posing a major hazard to crew health, safety, and morale. Every year, seaworthy yachts are abandoned because their exhausted, seasick, and despondent crews have lost their collective will to persevere. Unfortunately, mariners frequently consider seasickness a medical emergency, and summon unnecessary and potentially hazardous medical evacuations; at the very least, seasickness can ruin a good day on the water for any boater. It is clearly an illness to be reckoned with.

CAUSE

Seasickness results from a mismatch of sensory input processed in the brain’s balance center, which orients the body’s position in space. Place someone in the cabin of a heeling and rolling boat, and you immediately invite “mal de mer.” Below decks, the eyes oriented to the floor and ceiling detect no tilt from vertical, but fluid in the inner ear (the vestibular apparatus) constantly shifts with the boat’s motion, sending a different position signal to the brain. Positions sensors in the neck, muscles, and joints relay additional information to the brain depending on how the person moves to maintain balance.  The conflict of sensory data from all these sources ultimately activates a series of responses, which we recognize as seasickness. Sensory conflict and the loss of spatial orientation can impair ones ability to think and reason clearly. Seasick sailors often lose short-term memory and the ability to solve problems and make sound judgments.  Confusion is also a side effect of many medications used to treat seasickness. Astronauts who suffer from motion sickness in space call this condition the “space stupids.” The equivalent condition for seasick boaters might be called “sea stupids.” The trick to preventing seasickness is to avoid sensory conflict by coordinating input, especially from your eyes and ears. Simply put, if your eyes are seeing what your ears are feeling, you will have a great day at sea!

PREVENTION

  1. Start your trip well hydrated, and avoid alcohol.
  2. Eat a light meal low in fat and high in starch.
  3. Pre-trip preparation should be designed to minimize time spent below decks while underway. Prepare a few simple meals ahead of time, and have personal belongings easily accessible.
  4. Avoid close-focused visual tasks such as reading.
  5. Stay in the fresh air, away from engine fumes, and near the center of the boat where motion is less pronounced.
  6. Munch on saltines, granola, or energy bars, and sip fluids.
  7. Look at the horizon to provide a stable reference point; sit or stand upright with your head and upper body balanced over your hips, and anticipate the boat’s motion as though “riding” the waves. Standing and taking the helm will help you accomplish this.
  8. Steer the boat by reference to the horizon, clouds, oncoming waves and distant marks; this is extremely effective in reducing seasickness. It may take as long as three days to adapt to the boat’s motion and get your “sea legs.”

MEDICATIONS

Medication is generally more effective in preventing symptoms than reversing them during this period of adaptation; therefore, if you anticipate you may become seasick, begin medication the night before departure.

MARINEBonine® (Meclizine), and Phenergan® are effective as well as other medications (see page 114 in A Comprehensive Guide to Marine Medicine for more info on medications). Sudafed®, or Nodoz®, can counteract the drowsiness caused by the antihistamines. The popular drug Stugeron® (Cinnarizine), although not sold in the United States, is available over-the-counter in Europe, Bermuda, Mexico, and Canada. It can also be obtained from www.canadadrugsonline.com. The prescription Transderm-Scop® adhesive patch, applied behind the ear two hours before departure, may cause less fatigue, and the benefits will last for three days. Review the many potential (and serious) side effects before using scopolamine with your physician. Scopace® tablets allow sailors to regulate the amount of scopolamine, which helps reduce side effects.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

Alternative therapies, which appear beneficial for some mariners, include ginger capsules, one gram every six hours, supplemented with other ginger products. BioBand® and Sea-Band® are elastic bands with a plastic stud that applies pressure to the Neiguan P6 acupuncture site in the forearm.       The variety of medications, devices, and other remedies may work for some people and not for others. Therapies are subject to the placebo effect, and there are no well-controlled trials confirming the effectiveness of many products or comparing different treatments. The protection conferred by drugs is a matter of degree; there is no magic bullet to prevent seasickness in everyone.  If one drug fails to work for you, try another; try different medications or modalities on land to see if there are any unacceptable side effects. If you discover a safe regimen that works for you, stick with it and believe in what you use.

SIGNS, SYMPTOMS & TREATMENTS

The earliest signs and symptoms of seasickness are yawning and drowsiness, progressing to dry mouth, headache, dizziness, and extreme listlessness. Some people initially experience an unsettled stomach, slight sweating, mild blushing, and a feeling of warmth. Untreated, the person becomes pale, cold, and clammy. Nausea later comes in waves with belching, salivation, and then uncontrollable vomiting. Recognize and begin treatment with prescription anti-nausea medication (e.g. Phenergan®) when early signs appear. Phenergan® taken as a pill, but preferably a suppository, will prevent vomiting and subsequent dehydration. During treatment, lie down and try to sleep. Take small amounts of fluid, crackers, and hard candy.

Sailors now have many options to manage seasickness. It is no longer necessary to follow Samuel Johnson’s 18th century advice: “To cure seasickness, find a good big oak tree and wrap your arms around it.”

Dr. Jacobs is the co-author of A Comprehensive Guide to Marine Medicine, and the author of numerous articles and chapters on medicine for mariners and safety at sea. He is the founder of MedSail, and consultant to Adventure® Medical Kits. He practices medicine on Martha’s Vineyard.

To find a great line of medical kits pack with the medication you need out at sea go to www.WestMarine.com  or AdventureMedicalKits.com

west_marine_logo

 

My Favorite Places to Ski. Dream Destinations with Adventure Medical Kits’ Ambassador Kim Havell:

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Kim

Adventure, for me, feels best when you are alone with your team and when you go deep into the environment. And, if you’re going to be remote, you’d better be prepared. So, I always have Adventure Medical Kits with me for my favorite adventures.

Here are Kim’s Top 3 places to Adventure Ski

Climb1

Antarctica

Why?

Remote, pristine, and serenely beautiful, Antarctica is a mind-blowing skiing destination with abundant wildlife and no humans – except for those with whom you floated over from the southernmost point of Argentina (Ushuaia). Head to shore in a zodiac and start your ski tour with penguins, seals and perhaps some whales out in the bays below. Post-skiing you can take a polar plunge amongst the floating icebergs or scout for more skiing opportunities amongst the miles of untouched mountains off the peninsula.

 

Wind River Ski Mountaineering, May 2014

Wind River Range WY: photo by Jim Harris

Wind River Range WY

Why?

The Wind River Range has dramatic and beautiful peaks with an incredible sense of isolation and quiet. If you can handle the long approach with enough gear and food for a week, then you will be rewarded with a place all to yourself. It’s just you and the bears out there. Camping is spectacular with a myriad of lakes and water features to choose from and in certain areas you can ski several peaks and routes in a day.

 

Great Atlas Traverse

Morocco: photo by Kris Erickson

Great Atlas Traverse

High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Why?

Another off-the-beaten track ski destination, the range stretches for many miles with all types of terrain. If you can time a visit with good snowfall, there is powder skiing in Africa. And, if the sun is out, then the corn skiing is as good as it gets with 3,000ft runs top to bottom. The slopes will be all yours with the stunning visual contrast of the Sahara desert stretching out in the distance below. Not much wildlife in this area but the Berber culture is friendly and welcoming when you get back to nearby villages.

 

About Kim Havell

Currently based in Jackson, WY, Kim Havell started her career as an alpine ski coach in the Telluride, CO valley. From there, she gradually made the transition into freeskiing, climbing and ski mountaineering. She has been an instructor and/or guide for Ice Axe Expeditions, San Juan Outdoor School, CVA, Babes in the Backcountry, H2O Heli Guides, as well as a 12 year member of the San Miguel County Search and Rescue Team (and Advisory Board member), with medical and rescue certifications.

Kim has skied on all 7 continents, with 1st descents on 4, and adventured in over 50 countries. During her travels, she has climbed and skied big peaks in the Himalaya & the Karakorum, the highest mountains across the US, with 1st descents both at home and abroad including in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Kim has numerous first female descents in Southwest Colorado, climbed and skied both the Grand Teton and Mt. Moran in a 2 day period, completed multiple ascents and ski descents of 13ers & 14ers, and cut lines on peaks in France, Italy, Canada, Switzerland, Alaska, Russia, and Japan. She has climbed numerous peaks in the Himalayas including Lobuche (6553m) and Ama Dablam (6888m) in Nepal, as well as an expedition to Gasherbrum II (8032m), Pakistan, with some skiing from 7400m, a womens expedition that skied from the summit of Denali (6194m), an Argentina trip of multiple ski descents in the Horcones Valley and on Aconcagua, a ski exploration expedition to Morocco’s Central High Atlas Mtns with 6 summit ski descents, and a complete ski descent from 7,400m on Shishapangma in Tibet in 2010.

In 2014/15, Kim went on trips to Peru, The Yukon, Revelstoke BC, Germany, Zion National Park, the Wind River Range, WY, and exploratory ski trip in the Patagonian Andes, and is ramping up for adventures in both guiding and personal expeditions moving forward. In addition to being a professional athlete, Havell also works as a Freelance Writer, Guide, and Photographer. More info at http://havelltravels.com/about/.

 

3 Useful & Life Saving Items You Should Take On Your Next Adventure

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Reflection of mountains and trees in water, Moor Lake, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

3 Insanely Useful & Life Saving Items You Should Take On Your Next Adventure

So you are heading out to explore the Allagash Wilderness of Maine, backpacking in the Sierras or mountain biking an old logging road. You’ve got the gear packed and the posse assembled, but have you thought about the fact that you’ll be 20 miles from a road? That means your crew will be depending upon each other in case something goes down.

Prepare for anything and get #AdventureEquipped. Channel your inner Scout with a few simple items that could make you the hero if you and your buddies are stranded out in the wilderness. Trust us, you’re friends will thank you for taking these along.

 

The Doctor is in

Accidents can happen. Carry a first aid kit and you’ll be ready for bee stings, punctured wounds, sprained ankles and a host of other emergencies. The Ultralight watertight .9 is an easy take- along filled with all the supplies you’ll need. It even comes with a handy first aid guide and is housed in a waterproof zip lock bag in case your canoe capsizes.

0125-0290 AMK Ultralight Watertight 9 RT copy

A $20 Box Could Save Your Life

Who ever said $20 doesn’t buy anything? Then they haven’t explored the immensely useful items inside the Survive Outdoors Longer Traverse survival kit. Packed into the small tin are essentials like water purification tablets and water storage container, fire starter with flint, emergency blanket and signaling mirror. The box covers the basics of water, shelter, fire and signaling. The Traverse is easy to slip in your bag and weighs about 6 ounces.

0140-1767_SOL_Traverse_STRT

A Knife with a Purpose

About the size of the palm of your hand, the Phoenix incorporates 8+ survival tools into a small pocketknife size multi-tool. The contents include a fixed, serrated and drop point bladed knife, 3-7mm wrench, flat head screwdriver, fire starter and flint striker, LED light and signaling whistle.

 

0140-0838_sol_phoenix_open_light

 

How NOT to Get Stranded Out in The Wilderness

North, South, East, West, you thought you knew where you were going but now you’re lost. Of course, knowing the terrain, watching the weather and knowing how to use your compass is key in the wilderness. Check out these links below to learn the skills, scout the terrain or get a read on the weather.

Learning Map & Compass Skills

http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/blog/2009/04/navigation-basics-map-and-compass/

Learning Wilderness First Aid and Rescue:

NOLS http://www.nols.edu/wmi/courses/wildfirstaid.shtml

REI https://www.rei.com/outdoorschool/wilderness-medicine-classes.html

National Weather Service http://www.weather.gov/

 

 

Basic First Aid Skills- How to Treat a Sprained Ankle

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

ankle injury

Adventure Medical Kits Empowers You Series

Heading out into the wilderness can be an amazing experience that allows you to explore remote areas and challenge yourself. As a smart adventurer, you’ve probably already taken the steps to prepare for your journey by bringing along the basics for survival (Food, Water, Shelter, First Aid Kit, extra Clothing ) and knowing the terrain. But anytime you’re a few hours from advanced medical care, you are assuming risk and should be prepared for injuries and illnesses. That’s why it’s good to know some first aid basics. In our Adventure Medical Kits Empowers You Series, we’ve compiled a list of skills and treatments we consider essential for anyone who goes out in the backcountry. Our articles are not a substitute for professional medical training or treatment. We recommend taking a full Wilderness First Aid course for more comprehensive knowledge and seeking professional care as soon possible.

Basic First Aid Skills- How to Treat a Sprained Ankle

Taken from Adventure Medical Kits’ Wilderness & Travel Medicine Guide, By Dr. Eric A. Weiss

There you are, just hiking along the trail when suddenly the footing changes and you roll your ankle to one side. You feel it stretch and maybe even feel it tear. It stops you cold and it hurts.

SPRAINS

A sprain is stretching or tearing of ligaments that attach one bone to another. Ligaments are sprained when a joint is twisted or stretched beyond its normal range of motion. Most sprains occur in the ankle and knee.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms include tenderness to the site, swelling, bruising, and pain with movement. Because these symptoms are also present with a fracture, it may be difficult to differentiate between the two. Use caution and treat the injury until x-rays or further medical evaluation is available.

Treatment

  1. First aid begins with R-I-C-E (see below). If the victim cannot bear weight at all, use a splint to stabilize the foot and ankle and get assistance out of the backcountry.
  2. If the victim can still walk, use a C-Splint,  compression wrap or tape the ankle for support.
  3. Continue R-I-C-E-S for at least 72 hours following an injury and administer a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Ibuprofen, 3x per day with food to reduce pain and inflammation.
  4. As soon as possible, seek medical evaluation to determine the need for X-rays to check for fracture.

A leg tensor bandage being applied outdoors

R-I-C-E-S- Immediate steps for treating sprains and strains

Rest: Resting takes the stress off the injured joint and prevents further damage.

Ice: Ice as quickly as possible as it will reduce the swelling and pain. Apply an ice pack or cold compress to the area for up to 20 minutes, 3-4 times per day. Follow with a compression bandage. Wrapping is key, as the joint will swell as soon as the ice is removed.

Compression: Compression wraps prevent swelling and provide support. Pad the injury with socks or soft items, and then wrap with an elastic bandage. Begin the wrap at the toes and move up the foot up and over the ankle with the wrap. The wrap should be comfortable but not too tight. If the victim experiences numbness, tingling or increased pain, loosen the wrap.

Elevation: Elevate the injury above the level of the heart as much as possible to reduce swelling.

Stabilization: Tape or splint the injured area to prevent further damage.

Next Steps:

Continue R-I-C-E-S for at least 72 hours following an injury and administer a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as Ibuprofen, three times per day with food to reduce pain and inflammation.

 

What’s in Rebecca Rusch’s pack for Cycling

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

RRWhats in pack

By Adventure Medical Kits Ambassador Rebecca Rusch

When she’s headed out on the trail, Rebecca carries essential gear to make sure she’s ready for anything!

Red Bull: because it #GivesYouWings, Seriously I drink Red Bull to energize a hard workout, to get me out the door if I’m feeling tired.

GU Octane gel: GU is my go to nutrition for riding.

CrankBrothers multi-tool with chain breaker. Plus an extra SRAM quick link for a chain repair if needed (this is in the red packet below the tool) The bike tool is an essential item for trailside maintenance and adjustments on the bike.

Park Tool tire boot: For big tears or cuts in the tires.

Beyond Coastal sunscreen stick

Duct Tape

WD40 Bike Chain lube

Tire Lever: for changing a flat. I like this wide kind so I only have to carry one instead of two.

Petzl E-lite mini headlamp: this thing is so small and runs forever.

SRAM Shock pump

Spare tube: for flats.

Bike gloves

Thin rain jacket or vest

Crank Brothers mini bike tire pump

Surgical gloves and plastic shower cap: for emergency cold weather protection of hands and head. Yes, this does work.

Cell phone: for taking selfies, but also calling for help if needed

Camelbak pack and hydration: you can survive quite a long time without food, but not very long at all without water.

Adventure Medical Kit Utlralight Watertight .9 First Aid Kit

About Rebecca Rusch
When describing Rebecca Rusch’s athletic achievements, it may be easier to talk about what she hasn’t done, but, like Rebecca herself, we’re doing this the hard way.
Her national and world titles in whitewater rafting, adventure racing, orienteering, and cross-country skiing certainly impress, but they only set the stage; it’s the two-wheeled victories that really lengthen her resume. Rusch’s mountain bike accomplishments would strain the pixels on your screen. National wins across multiple off-road formats top the list, as well as record-setting victories at storied ultra endurance races like the Leadville Trail 100, Dirty Kanza 200, and 24 Hour MTB World Championships. Not content to wait for the race to come to her, Rusch also claimed the record on the 142-mile Kokopelli Trail, coming in more than an hour and a half faster than the previous champion. It wasn’t her idea, but it doesn’t take a professor to see why she earned the moniker “The Queen Of Pain.”

While maintaining this laundry list of accolades would be enough for most athletes, Rusch takes no such time to rest on her laurels. Her SRAM Gold Rusch Tour has been traveling to races and events across North America to help get more women in the saddle and riding their bikes through skills clinics, social events, and group rides. She created Rebecca’s Private Idaho, a grueling gravel road event in her hometown of Ketchum that attracts hundreds of riders to her backyard every year, all for charity. Organizations like the International Mountain Bike Association, World Bicycle Relief, PeopleForBikes.org, the National Interscholastic Mountain Bike Association, and the Wood River Bicycle Coalition can count her as an official ambassador and, in some cases, board member. Visit her site at www. http://www.rebeccarusch.com.

Fuel: On-the-Go Oats!

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

Oats2

Packing for an adventure and need some quick fuel options to bring along? Try making your own oatmeal and storing it in a Mason jar. Ready for your next weekend camping trip or your ride to the local hike. Just add hot water.

Here’s our favorite kind.

You’ll need the following Gear and Ingredients:

1 Mason Jar with tight cover or consider an insulated container like this one from Hydraflask.

½-1 Cup All-Natural oats uncooked

¼ cup Chopped Almonds

¼ cup Dried Cranberries

¼ cup Dried Blueberries

¼ cup Dried Dates

1-2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar or Maple syrup

Makes 1 hearty serving.

Directions:

  1. Prep at home before your next adventure: Begin by adding a layer of dry uncooked oats and follow with a sprinkle of chopped almonds or one of the fruit options. Layer again with oats and toppings. Continue layering until the container is partially filled. Leave about 2-3” at the top of the jar for water and to aid in mixing the contents.
  2. At home or at the campsite, boil water and carefully add ½-1 cup to the Mason jar depending upon desired consistency. Use caution with the container, as the contents will be hot!
  3. Need to save weight in your pack? Forgo the Mason Jar and mix all dry ingredients into a zip lock bag. Seal completely. When ready to eat, pour into a camp bowl or mug and add hot water as noted above.

Stir and wa-la! Your meal is ready.

Yum!

My Ultralight/Watertight .7 Medical Kit saved my leg! Thanks!!!

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

Submitted By: Holly G

I was at the gym working on my box jumps when my foot slipped. I didn’t realize I was that hurt until my trainer pointed to the blood all over my pants and shoe. He got some bandaids and alcohol wipes from their first aid kit but we both felt that this wasn’t adequate. As I got ready for work my leg continued to bleed. When I arrived at work, I called my friend, a nurse, and she told me how to treat my wound but if I couldn’t get it cleaned properly and the bleeding to stop I would need to go to the Emergency room. I looked but our office first aid kit didn’t have what I needed. Then I remembered that I had my Adventure Medical Kit in my car with my hiking stuff. Sure enough everything I needed was there. No emergency room needed. I didn’t miss a day of work at the emergency room or the cost of my high copay. My adventure medical kit paid for itself many times over already. I’m going to buy an extra one just for my car.

962053_10200153191529063_578597353_n973266_10200149586878949_1958981053_n 974032_10200153189249006_666603708_n

Ouch Holly!  Well I am glad that Holly had one of our kits and it was a good thing too since the first aid kits at the gym and the office were inadequate.   I am sure most first aid kits are good for headaches and the small scrape or cut, but when you need to be prepared for life’s surprises or when the box at the gym jumps up and bites ya its good to have a serious medical kit.

Thank Holly for sending this to us and so we are going to send you a few things as a token of our appreciation. If you guys have any real life stories about where you had to use one of our medical kits, our survival products or any of our other products we would love to hear from you.  You can message us on Facebook or email us at cs@adventuremedicalkits.com and include “Real Life Stories” in the subject line.

Lightning Strike Treatment

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

lightning3

LIGHTNING STRIKE TREATMENT

Excerpt from A Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness and Travel Medicine, by Eric A. Weiss, M.D.

Lightning kills more people every year in the United States than all other natural disasters combined. Read our post on minimizing risk of lightning strike to prevent injury.

LIGHTNING CAN CAUSE INJURY BY FOUR MECHANISMS:

1.Direct Hit
Lightning directly strikes a person in the open. It usually does not enter the body, but instead is conducted over the skin surface (“flashover”), producing a variety of injuries. The greatest damage may occur to skin beneath metal objects worn by the victim, such as jewelry, belt buckles, or zippers, which tend to disrupt the flashover and allow current to penetrate. Current may also penetrate the body through the eyes, ears, and mouth, causing deeper injuries to those parts. The victim is exposed to a tremendous elec-tromagnetic field, which can disrupt the workings of the brain, lungs and heart and lead to a cardiac and respiratory arrest. Finally, the instant vaporization of any moisture on the victim’s skin can blast apart his clothing and shoes.

2. Splash
A more common scenario is for the victim to be struck by lightning “splash,” which occurs when a bolt first hits an object, such as a tree or another person, and then “jumps” to the victim who may have found shelter nearby. Splashes may also occur from person to person who are standing close together.

3. Step Voltage
Lightning hits the ground or a nearby object and the current spreads like a wave in a pond to the victims. Step voltage is often to blame when several people are hurt by a single lightning bolt.

4. Blunt Trauma
The explosive force of the pressure waves created by lightning can cause blunt trauma, such as spleen or liver injuries and ruptured ear drums.

TYPES OF INJURIES

1. Heart and Lung
Lightning can cause a cardiac arrest and paralyze the lungs. The heart will often restart on its own, but because the lungs are still not working, the heart will stop again from lack of oxygen.

2. Neurologic Injuries 
The victim may be knocked unconscious and suffer temporary paralysis, especially in the legs. Seizures, confusion, blindness, deafness, and inability to remember what happened may result.

3. Traumatic Injuries 
Bruises, fractures, dislocations, spinal injury, chest and abdominal injuries from the shock wave may occur. Ruptured eardrums can result in hearing loss.

4. Burns
Superficial first or second-degree burns are more common than severe burns after a lightning strike and form distinctive fern patterns on the skin.

TREATMENT
Lightning strike victims are not “charged” and thus pose no hazard to rescuers.

  1. The immediate treatment of lightning strike victims differs from other situations in which you have multiple trauma victims. Rather than adhere to the standard rescue dogma of ignoring the victims who appear dead and giving priority to those who are still alive, after a lightning strike, treat those victims first who appear dead, because they may ultimately recover if quickly given mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing and CPR. If you’re successful in obtaining a pulse with CPR, continue rescue breathing until the victim begins to breathe on his own or you are no longer able to continue the resuscitation.
  2. Stabilize and splint any fractures.
  3. Initiate and maintain spinal precautions if indicated.

amk-comprehensive-guide-to-wilderness-travel-medicine

Lightning Safety

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

lightning strike 3

Incidences of lightning strikes are more common in the Midwest, Gulf Coast, and Atlantic regions of the United States because these regions have thunderstorms more frequently than the rest of the country, as shown in the image below.¹ An estimated 400 lightning injuries occur annually based on data averaged over the last decade.² Lightning danger is no joke or freak accident. The Wilderness and Environmental Medicine Journal has some safety recommendations that can help minimize your risk of a strike if you find yourself outside in a thunderstorm.

lightening

Know the warning signs for thunderstorms:

  • Building Cumulonimbus clouds (pictured below)
  • Increasing winds
  • Darkening skies

800px-Anvil_shaped_cumulus_panorama_edit_crop

Minimize your risk of attracting lightning:

  •  No place is absolutely safe from from a lightning strike.
  • Ridge lines and summits are the highest risk areas for a lightning strike
  • Avoid tall objects like ski lifts, isolated trees and telephone poles
  • When thunder roars, go in doors.
    • Take shelter in:
      • The largest close building and stay away from the doors and windows (for example a campground bathroom)
      • A car with the windows up and the doors closed (soft tops will not offer protection)
      • If no car or building is near, head as deep into dense woods as possible or find a deep cave or ravine to minimize risk of a side splash strike or ground current
    • Do NOT SHELTER in:
      • a tent will not offer protection
      • a soft top car will not offer protection
crouch

Our very own, Annie Smith demonstrating the lightening strike position.

Protect your body if strike is imminent:

  • Crouch with knees and feet close together (see image right)
    • this creates one point of contact with the ground
  • Insulate yourself from the ground by standing on a rock, backpack, dry coiled ropes, rolled foam sleeping pad
    • make sure to remove any metal from yourself and the insulating objects
    • this will minimize risk of of ground current

 

 

 

It is best to wait 30 minutes after you hear the last thunder clap to leave your hiding spot, this will ensure you have at least a 10 mile buffer zone between yourself and the lightning activity.

¹Worldwide density of lightning strikes. The Lightning Imaging Sensor global lightning distribution image was obtained from NASA’s EOSDIS through the Global Hydrology Resource Center, Huntsville, AL. http://ghrc.nsstc.nasa.gov/.

²National Weather Service . Medical Aspects of Lightning . http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/medical.htm 2010; Accessed February 15, 2012