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Multi-Day Wilderness Trips: Choosing a Medical Kit

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

We asked a wilderness guide for tips from his experience on how to be medically prepared for trips into the wilderness. He provided us with great questions to ask yourself before you choose a first aid kit for a multi-day adventure, as well as insight into his personal process. – Adventure® Medical Kits

Backpacker headed out on a trip.

Have you covered the other basics (food, shelter, survival)?

As I get organized to lead a group into the wilderness, being prepared fills my mind as a top priority. Once I have my bases covered on the topics of shelter, food, and clothing, I consider the smaller items that can easily get overlooked. These items cover the topics of safety and comfort and include things like lighting, cleanliness, evacuation (typically a satellite communication device), and first aid. I don’t need to bring a survival kit on my multi-day foray into the wilderness, since my tent, sleeping bag/pad, clothing, food and camp kitchen are the greatest survival kit of all times. I do, however, need to bring a medical kit.

Does your medical kit have supplies to treat common injuries?

Those who enjoy the wilderness need to have some lessons in first aid and a reliable medical kit, as the best way to know what to bring as far as first aid material goes is to first be educated in how to address a variety of medical situations in the backcountry. This will help you identify what items you need, but you also need to understand what your highest priority medical items are based on the most likely injuries to occur.

The best medical kit is the one that can manage the most common injuries that occur in the woods and mountains. Having spent thousands of days in the wilderness over two decades and having been a full time guide for the past 7 years, I have found the following issues to be the most common ones that occur and need treatment:

  • Blisters
  • Cuts
  • Scrapes
  • Burns
  • Knee/ankle injuries

To manage most of these issues, keeping them clean and dressed can be the difference between a nuisance and a major infection. A medical kit needs to be fully stocked with alcohol prep pads, sanitizing wipes, gauze pads of various sizes, and a syringe for irrigating cuts. Along with these, adhesive bandages of various sizes, as well as athletic tape, need to be included to dress a skin deep medical issue.

Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Backpacker Kit

The Easy Care First Aid Organization System found in Adventure Medical Kits features injury-specific compartments with clear labels.

Can you find the first aid supplies you need quickly?

One thing that is often overlooked in medical kits is the layout. If someone is being treated, efficiency is important. To be efficient, the kit needs to have everything labeled and organized. When you head out there and review the details of your medical kit, or if you are purchasing a new one, make sure it meets the following criteria:

  • Has adequate amounts of high quality material, appropriate for your trip
  • Is organized and labeled
  • Contains a booklet for reviewing proper treatments
  • Is made of durable material
  • Is not too heavy

In an ideal world, we go out there into the backcountry many times and never touch our medical kits. In the event that we do need it though, it needs to be the right thing, so don’t hold back when preparing or purchasing this crucial wilderness item.

About the Author

Daniel Laggner has been a full-time guide and wilderness survival instructor for 7 seasons and has over 20 years experience in outdoor sports and the outdoor industry. He has conducted several long-term expeditions, spending weeks in the remote wilderness of the Colorado Rockies, Sierra Nevada, and northern Patagonia. He is currently Lead Guide and Co-owner of Treks and Tracks.

It’s Not about the Journey

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE JOURNEY

It was cold, it was dark, and it was the evening of November 30th. 2.73 miles–that’s all we needed. Less than a week earlier I had hurt my foot by foolishly wearing the wrong shoes on a hike while on vacation. Now, it was up to Daddy to take our two children out onto the city streets in the cold, dark night. Completing the HiB 30 November Challenge with a total of 30 miles depended on it. A round-trip journey to the grocery store with just a few detours got them the mileage they needed, and my children returned home triumphant and tired.

 

THE JOURNEY EVOLVES.
Before I go any further, I realize this might seem like extreme lengths to go to for a personal challenge; but you see, that’s just it. We’ve been participating in the Hike it Baby 30 Challenges since September of 2015. However, for the first time since then, the challenge truly was personal–not for me, but for my daughter. November marked the first challenge that she, at 6 years old, decided to own it for herself and go after all 30 miles. In the past I would try to plan at least one after-school hike a week so that I could make sure she got out with us, but it was never enough to get her close to 30. When I explained the challenge month to her and I saw her eyes light up at the thought of completing it, I knew I had to do whatever I could to make that happen. Our journey that month took us on some amazing trails. But, ultimately, it was those last few miles on the sidewalks close to our house that made all the difference. For my daughter, completing this challenge was the ultimate goal–and we did it.
It wasn’t always this way, though. As a baby we took her out hiking all the time. We spent most of the minutes of our days outside, and if we stayed in too long she would crawl to the front door and start knocking to go out. That was when we lived in the sunshine; the only bad weather was warm rain you could play in and the occasional tropical storm.

ADAPTING TO NEW CHANGES.
A few years later she was three years old, we had a baby for a younger brother, and we were living in Michigan. Originally a California girl I didn’t know how to get out with my babies in the cold, dark north. We kept our hiking to the brief spring and summer months. Sadly, this wasn’t enough to foster a love for the trail in her. When she was four-years-old we moved to Atlanta and found Hike it Baby (I wish I had found it in Michigan!) and finally started hiking again on a regular basis. When we started back into it there was so much complaining and lots of bribing; I was so disappointed that my beautiful, once outdoors-loving little girl didn’t like to hike. Only a year-and-a-half later and my daughter is hiking 6-mile hikes without complaining and completing 30-mile challenges. We did it, we made it, we got there! The journey wasn’t always easy, but I have a daughter that asks to go hiking–and would rather go camping for her birthday than have a party.

 

BALANCING THE JOURNEY AND THE DESTINATION.
So often, we make a point to focus on the journey, rather than the destination. This is great advice, especially in the little years. I host a toddler-led hike every week and let me tell you, that hike is all about the journey. We never really know where we are going to end up. But while taking care of little ones day-to-day, it can be hard to constantly stay positive when you have no idea where all of this is heading. I’m here to tell you that just as in hiking, there is a destination, and it’s pretty great. It’s ok to remind yourself of that every once and awhile. One day, little feet and little hands are going to get bigger and they’ll be asking to go outside before you even get the chance to suggest it.

 

When the trail is hard and your feet start to hurt, you need to look up and enjoy your surroundings for what they are; to find beauty amid the pain and the struggle. I have to say this is much the same for raising little ones. However, when you catch glimpse of the end of the trail, of the peak you’ve almost reached, and realize how close you are–it’s ok to rejoice in knowing you are almost there. Sometimes it is about the destination. Believing that you will reach it can be the hardest thing, but don’t worry, you will.

5 Tips to Prevent Dehydration While Hiking

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

Hiking is a pleasurable pastime and a good way to stay healthy and happy, as it presents ample opportunity to get sunshine, fresh air, and exercise. However, the exertion makes you susceptible to dehydration, which can make a hike less enjoyable and even dangerous.

Staying hydrated is especially important for senior hikers because, on an average, older adults have 10% less fluid in their bodies than younger adults. In addition, seniors also experience a diminished sense of thirst that leads to a reduced fluid intake, making them more susceptible to dehydration. But young or old, each and every hiker needs to stay hydrated before, during, and after a hike in order to be safe.

1. Drink Water before Hitting the Trail

Before embarking on the hike, you should drink one or two cups of water. Your body only begins to feels thirsty when the water level is already low, meaning you shouldn’t wait for the body’s “thirsty” signal before drinking. Instead, keep your water level from dropping in the first place by hydrating pre-hike. Developing habits for long-term hydration in your life will help you be at your fittest and healthiest before going on a hike.

2. Steer Clear of Caffeinated Drinks & Alcohol Prior to a Hike

Planning to hit the trail in the morning? Opt for water instead of soda the night before. A hiker should refrain from or at least limit drinking caffeinated drinks like coffee or cola before a hike, as this can increase your fluid loss.

caffeineted beverages can contribute to dehydration

Avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee before a hike

Consuming alcoholic drinks prior to hiking should be absolutely avoided, as they significantly contribute to dehydration. These drinks are also not great drinks to bring on a hike, as they won’t hydrate you properly and may dehydrate you.

3. Carry Food & Water (& Make Them Easily Accessible)

Any person going on a hiking trip should carry ample food and water. Water keeps you hydrated, while food is the body’s main source of fuel and salts (electrolytes) – you need both to prevent dehydration. Individually wrapped snacks, energy bars, dried food, and bottled water are typically sufficient for a person embarking on a day hike, unless the trip involves meal times. Remember to balance your food intake with fluid consumption to avoid becoming severely ill and dangerously debilitated.

Whether you use a bottle or a bladder, make sure you’re drinking regularly 

For longer, more strenuous hikes, you may also want to pack electrolyte tablets. Sweating causes you to lose electrolytes, which can make hiking more difficult. Adding electrolyte tablets or a sports drink to your pack is an easy way to stay at the top of your game.

Of course, packing water or food alone won’t keep you hydrated and healthy – you have to consume it. Maybe hydration comes naturally to you and you’ll remember to drink, but if you find yourself regularly forgetting, here’s a few ideas that might help:

  • Use a bladder – if you use canteens or bottled water and find yourself forgetting to stop and grab a drink, using a bladder lets you drink on the move with water always easily accessible.
  • Prefer bottles? Pick your pack with care – if you prefer bottles or canteens to a bladder, make sure the hiking pack you use lets you easily reach your water. Some packs have forward-facing pockets that make it easier to pull your bottle out than the traditional side pocket.
  • Keep a few snacks stashed where you can reach them – the hip pocket of your pack is a great place.

4. Drink Water before Feeling Thirsty

You shouldn’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water, because that means you’re already dehydrated and not performing at the top of your game. You should replenish fluids and electrolytes by drinking one half to one quart of water every hour you’re hiking. You may need to drink more depending upon the temperature and the intensity of the hike.

Hiking in warmer environments increases your water intake needs

For variety, consider alternating between plain water and a sports drink with electrolytes. This will retain fluids, maintain energy, balance electrolyte levels, and thus make hiking more enjoyable.

5. Stay Hydrated after Hiking

Don’t stop drinking when you stop hiking. You should continue to intake fluids even after completing the hike to replenish water and electrolyte loss. Since thirst always underestimates your body’s fluid needs, drink more than you think is necessary.

If Dehydration Strikes

Prevention is always the best treatment, but if you or someone in your party does become seriously dehydrated, make sure you have the first aid supplies and knowledge you need to treat them. Oral rehydration salts are a lightweight addition to your first aid kit that are proven to help your body absorb and retain fluids more effectively. If you’re headed on an extended adventure, adding these to your pack could make a huge difference.

Stay Hydrated & Get Hiking!

A hike, when done correctly and safely, has many medical benefits such as reducing the risk of diabetes, colon or breast cancer, osteoporosis, and heart attacks, as well as decreasing disability risk and increasing overall physical function. More than that though, hiking gives us a sense of adventure and a rush of adrenalin from being amidst nature and discovering new places, all of which is wonderful for mental well-being. To hike successfully and get optimal benefits, though, make sure you stay adequately hydrated to prevent dehydration.

How To Prepare for Multiple Day Trips.

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

 

Brian Threlkeld just took an 8-day trip around Baxter National Park where he experienced some extreme conditions. During any trip no matter its duration it’s important to be prepared, we asked Brian to summarize his experience and give future hikers some advice on what to carry. Check out some of the key items that made his trip enjoyable and his advice for future adventurers.

 

While traveling for 8 days around Baxter State Park in northern Maine, we encountered many situations requiring diligence and preparedness.  The mercury in the thermometer never rose above 20 degrees Fahrenheit.  Most nights were single or double digits below zero, and we had to manage lots of frozen gear in the mornings.

 

The ability to have fires at night and in the morning allowed us to thaw out frozen gear and body parts.  A reliable and trustworthy stove (JetBoil’s Joule) was critical for melting snow, boiling water and cooking meals.  Without it, we would have had a very difficult time sustaining our energy and our morale.  -20 degree sleeping bags and closed cell foam pads were crucial.  Inflatable pads, even if they’re rated for winter temps, still have a tendency to deflate during the night, and the moisture trapped inside from blowing them up, compromises their warmth and their dryness.

 

We felt somewhat secure knowing we had the ability to make quick fires with the SOL Fire Lite Kit and having the SOL Longer Escape Bivvy Sack gave us the confidence to rewarm someone if a case of hypothermia arose.  Thankfully we avoided most situations that required medical attention minus a few blisters here and there.

 

When you’re in the back country, it’s critical to have the knowledge and experience to handle the risks associated with activities you’re undertaking.  In our case, we needed to stay warm, hydrated and fed.  We used an ax and small saw to collect dead and down wood for fires, and paid extra special care to using sharp objects because we couldn’t afford any mishaps.  Careful attention to water bottles was important to staying hydrated and staying safe.  We boiled water at nights to fill bottles which were then put in our sleeping bags to act as a small and effective furnace.  I highly recommend using hot water bottles to stay warm at night, and I HIGHLY recommend making sure the lids are securely fastened.  Tighten the lid once, and then tighten it again.  We thankfully had zero leaky water bottles in our sleeping bags, but because we tightened them so much, they were nearly impossible to open in the mornings.  The solution, wave them over the stove in the morning, very quickly and lightly, to loosen up the caps.  Just be careful to not melt them!

 

All in all our trip was fantastic.  We skied over 70 miles through an amazing wilderness area of northern Maine safely and in good style.  We traveled as a solid crew, helped each other when the going got tough, and made jokes when the going got really tough.  Find people you trust when you go out into the woods, as your life could literally be in there hands at some point.

 

What do you think the most common injuries you could face during your trip and what items could of made a difference in the trip?

 

-As long as you’re not doing anything stupid (though one could argue that winter camping is stupid, haha) the biggest concerns for injuries are blisters and cold injuries.  If you feel hot spots on your feet, address them immediately by adjusting your socks, tightening or loosening your boots a bit, or applying duct tape to the hot spot to help reduce friction on the affected area.  Keep gloves on while you’re doing things around camp (liner gloves come in handy for chores that require more dexterity) and I like to wear a Buff-type accessory that can quickly cover most of my face and add an extra layer of warmth to my ears and neck.  If you’re traveling with a hat on and you’re getting hot, take the hat off, but perhaps use the Buff as an ear warmer.  It’ll keep your ears from getting super cold but it will still allow heat to escape out the top of your head.

 

For the first time hiker what are necessities on the trip (any gear not just kits) that will make their trip easier and more enjoyable?

 

A warm sleeping bag, insulated puffy pants, a big warm down jacket and down booties are all key essentials to staying warm and actually enjoying winter camping.  Closed cell foam pads are way better at keeping the ground from sucking your body heat out, they’re light weight, you don’t have to spend time blowing them up and then packing them away, and they’re completely fail-safe, unless of course you forget one in camp or lose one on the trail.  Make sure that doesn’t happen by sweeping your campsites every time before leaving for the next camp.

 

Layering is also key.  Make sure your next-to-skin layer is good at wicking (I love wool base layers in the winter) and be sure to temper your pace with your level of temperature.  What that means is don’t go too fast because you’ll sweat way too much and when the wind blows, you’ll get cold.  Make sure to have a wind resistant shell handy for when it gets gusty while you’re on the move, and make sure to have a good puffy jacket handy for rest breaks.  Its way easier to get warm and stay warm then to get cold and try to re-warm.  Put the puffy on right away at every break and take it off when you start moving again.  The name of the game is temperature regulation with winter travel.

 

Make sure someone knows your itinerary before you leave.  Have a plan on what to do if you know what hits the fan.  Have some good first aid training.  Know how to read a map and compass and don’t forget to bring them.  We live in a day and age where everything is at the tip of your fingers on that cellphone, but when you’re out of range, you have to rely on yourself and your friends to face any mishaps or accidents.  Your brain and self-reliance are the most important pieces of gear you can bring on any trip.

 

Fun tips, tricks and hacks you’ve learned while adventuring outdoors.

Use an electrolyte replacement tab in your water.  It’ll taste better and keep you feeling more energized.  They make caffeine tabs too which give you an extra boost when the going gets tough.

Bring hand sanitizer.  You don’t want to get any type of bug from gross stuff.

Hand warmers are amazing

Lost? The First thing You Should Do to Survive

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

1-hiker_overlooking-mountainscape

 

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 and knowing the terrain. But anytime you’re a few hours off the trail or deep in the wilderness, you are assuming risk and should be prepared for potentially life threatening survival situations like getting lost or injured. That’s why it’s good to know some basic skills you can draw on when the going gets rough.

Taken from Wilderness First Aid and Survival download By Eric A. Weiss M.D. and Adventure® Medical Kits

First Rule of Survival: STOP TO SURVIVE

Stop sign

 

If you find yourself lost, hurt or in a survival situation, take a deep breath, try to relax, and remain calm. Don’t Panic

Use the acronym: S-T-O-P

S-Stop:

Do not travel farther until you assess your situation.

T- Think:

Should I stay here or move? What is the likelihood that I will be found here? How far am I physically able to travel?

O-Observe:

Look around and determine whether you can obtain shelter, water, and fuel for a fire at this location.

P- Plan:

Decide what you should do and take action. Staying put may be the best choice, especially if someone knows where to look for you.

If you’ve decided to sit tight and wait for help, this is a great time to start signaling for assistance.  We’ll cover how to signal for help in more detail in our next survival skills installment but consider adding a whistle to your gear. Many packs, like the ones from Deuter USA come standard with a whistle built into the chest strap. Or purchase this one and hang it from your pack.

The sound of a whistle will travel much further than your voice. Three sharp blasts at regular intervals is the standard distress signal. While you’re whistling, think about how you can make a shelter, find some water and get a fire started so can stay warm in the event of an overnight.

Other Survival Tip

A. Leave a detailed trip itinerary with someone you trust*

B. Never forget that your brain and your ability to remain calm and not to panic are your most important survival tools.

C. Make sure your personal survival kit is waterproof, compact and fairly lightweight, so you will carry it always like the Hybrid 3 Kit from Survive Outdoors Longer

D. Know how to use each and every item in your kit. Don’t wait till you need it. Adjust your kit to fit the appropriate outdoor environment that you are venturing into. (Mountains, desert, wet conditions, cold climate)

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best Gear & Tips for Fall Hiking Adventures

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

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

With fall upon us, some of the best hikes are ahead, allowing us to view changing leaves and summit glorious mountain peaks. To help you prepare, we’ve assembled some essential gear guides and timely tips for your hiking adventures.

Know Before You Go

Hiking is one of those things that is best not to “wing-it”. Check out your hike and route before you go. We like the app from Yonder or AllTrails, as they help to identify great hikes and provide maps and travel tips.

Insider Tip: Be sure to let someone know your hiking route and expected return time. If you end up changing your plans be sure to leave a note behind in your car, that way if you don’t show up they’ll know where to begin the search.

Pack It

Carrying your extra clothes, snacks and water take effort. Why not make it comfortable? Choose a pack that fits your back length and storage needs. We like the options from Osprey.

Insider Tip: Pack the heaviest items at the bottom of the pack. Your hips and lower back can accommodate the weight easier and it will keep your center of gravity even.

It’s all in the Boots… and Socks

Nothing ruins a hike more than an ill-fitting pair of boots. Make sure to choose an option that fits your foot and intentions. Boots that are too tight or loose can cause friction on your feet and create blisters. Our favorites from Garmont feature a wide toe box with room for your toes and great traction. Also, leave those cotton socks in the drawer, opt for wicking or wool to keep feet dry and irritation-free.

Got Blisters?- Be sure to pack first aid gear to address hot spots and blisters. We like the Blister Medic with Moleskin and Glacier Gel for on trail treatment. For more tips, check out our blister prevention tips.

Insider Tip: Take the time to break-in your footwear before you head out on the trail. Your feet with thank you.

Hydration is Key

Why is it so important to stay hydrated?

Your body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue, and organ in your body need water to work correctly. For example, your body uses water to maintain its temperature, remove waste, and lubricate joints. Water is needed for good health. Make sure to drink water before you go and every 30 minutes out on the trail. Carry an insulated bottle like the one from RevoMax to keep liquids cool all day.

Insider Tip: You know you’re drinking enough fluids when your pee is light colored. Drink more if it’s dark and infrequent. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages as they can increase dehydration. Make sure to check out our primer on preventing dehydration.

Are You Adventure Equipped?

When the unexpected happens, having survival supplies close at hand is key. The Survive Outdoors Longer® Survival Medic is compact, lightweight, and easily slips into a pocket or pack. Inside the ultralight waterproof pouch is an Emergency Blanket, Fire Lite™ sparker, Tinder-Quik™ tinder, Slim Rescue Howler™ whistle, duct tape, and a button compass. With this small kit, you can stay warm, build a fire, and signal for rescue.

Insider Tip: Cell phones are often unreliable out in the woods. Don’t forget to pack extra clothing, food, water, and gear in case you need to signal and wait for help.

After a long hike, relax and enjoy the view at the top!

 

Marine Safety: What to Do if Someone is Drowning

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-2-06-32-pm

 

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury in the United States. When you’re at the local pool, out on your boat or body surfing in the waves, you will want to know what to do in a drowning situation. We’ve shared a few of The American Red Cross Water Safety Basics here but a Life Guard & Water Safety training course is also a great way to get hands-on experience. http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/lifeguarding.

 

 

Call for Help

Call 911 or the rescue emergency number to report the incident as soon as possible. It only takes an adult struggling in water for about three minutes before things go bad. But a child can only last less than thirty seconds. Take action immediately to rescue a drowning person. Scream for help so that someone else can assist in rescuing the victim.

Reach

Ensuring that you are in a safe position and cannot be pulled in by the victim; stretch your hand towards the victim. If you cannot reach, use a tree branch or a towel and taking care not to hit him or her, throw it towards him and after he grasps it, you can pull them to a safe position.

Throw

Most swimming areas have safety buoys that are attached to a long rope. They usually float and they can be used to save a drowning victim. Throw the ring towards the victim and ask him/her to grab it then pull it towards the shore.

Row

If your stuck on shore or far from the victim. Take a boat and go close to the victim taking care not to hit him. You can throw a safety ring to the victim to help him stabilize them. Come along side the victim and reach to help them into the boat.

Go

Swimming to rescue a drowning person can be violent and may pose imminent danger to the rescuer. The victim may force a rescuer under the water by climbing on them in order to breathe. If you have to swim out to rescue a drowning person, carry a towel with you or any object that the victim can hold on to as you tow him to safety.

Upon Rescue

Give first aid to the victim immediately after rescuing him or her. Feel for the pulse on the neck side or the wrist, if he is still breathing feel for the air coming through the nose and ensure it is open.

If the victim is not breathing, perform a CPR to increase chances of survival. Learn more about CPR here. LINK http://www.redcross.org

To find a great line of medical kits packed with the medication you need when out on the water, go to www.WestMarine.com or AdventureMedicalKits.com. For more marine medical tips, see Adventure Medical Kit’s Comprehensive Guide to Marine Medicine by Dr. Michael Jacobs and Dr. Eric Weiss.

 

west_marine_logo  MARINE

How to Prevent & Treat Blisters

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

Did you know blisters are one of the most common injuries in the outdoors and the most common injury for hikers? Within hours, a small rub in your boots can turn into a painful blister. However, with a few basic preventions tricks and early treatment, you can protect your feet and keep a blister from interrupting your adventure.

 

blister on foot

Blisters are the hiker’s #1 injury

Blister Prevention

To keep blisters from developing in the first place, eliminate as many contributing factors as possible. Simple actions taken before you hit the trail and once you’re on the trail can make a huge difference.

Before You Hit the Trail

The first step in preventing blisters it to make sure the gear you’re putting on your feet isn’t causing the problem. Here’s five steps you can take before you hit the trail to stop blisters in their tracks:

  1. Make sure your shoes fit properly. If your shoes are too tight you’ll have pressure sores, while shoes that are too loose lead to friction and irritation. Outdoor retailers like REI often will be able to measure your foot and help you find the right size using a calibrated fit device. A good check you can do yourself though is to pull the insoles out of your shoes and stand on them. You should have a thumb’s width of clearance between the end of your toes and the insole. You want that extra space in the front of the boot so you don’t end up jamming your toes against the toe box on the way down.
  2. Choose your socks with care. As a rule, avoid cotton socks and opt for water-wicking materials like merino wool or synthetics. Everyone has unique feet, making it important to find what works for you and your boots. Sock height, cushioning, and fit all contribute to giving your feet the best in-shoe experience. REI gives some great advice on choosing the sock that’s right for you.
  3. Break new boots in. Even the right footwear can still cause blisters if you don’t break it in. Before heading out on a trip, make sure to spend some time in your new boots, ideally while wearing the socks you’ll use on the trip. You might look funny walking around your home or the office in hiking boots, but your feet will thank you later. Once you’re ready to hit the trail, best practice says start with a short hike – you don’t want to find out you didn’t break them in enough when you planned a 15 mile day.
  4. Avoid prolonged wetness. Moisture breaks down your skin and predisposes it to blistering (that’s why choosing the right sock is so important). Keep your feet dry, and pack an extra pair of socks so if you’re first pair get wet (those mountain streams are everywhere), you can swap out for a dry pair right away.
  5. Protect problem areas. No one knows your feet like you do – if you are prone to blisters in a certain area, be proactive about protecting that area from harm. Before hiking, apply moleskin to sensitive areas where blisters are likely to occur. The moleskin will reduce the friction against your skin, effectively stopping blisters and hot spots before they can even start.

Even if you put moleskin on your feet before setting out, it’s always important to pack more in case the unexpected occurs. If you are prone to nasty blisters, consider adding GlacierGel to your first aid kit as well, as the hydrogel dressing is ideal for stopping the pain from and protecting fully-formed blisters. The Blister Medic contains both moleskin and GlacierGel, making it a lightweight addition to your pack that keeps you prepared. Make sure to go through your first aid kit before setting out to make sure you don’t need to re-stock blister items

On the Trail

Once you hit the trail, there are still things you can do to prevent blisters. Hot spots are sore, red areas of irritation that develop into blisters if allowed to progress. Identifying hot spots early to stop them from becoming blisters will save you miles of pain.

The key message? Pay attention to your feet. It’s easy to ignore slight irritations or brush them off in order to avoid having to stop on the trail, but take our word on it: you don’t want to ignore hot spots. If you think you feel a hot spot, take the time to stop and address it sooner than later.

Treating Hot Spots

If you catch a hot spot early on, you can easily stop it from becoming a blister by covering it with a small piece of moleskin.

covering a hot spot with moleskin

Treat small hot spots by covering them with moleskin, which is included in the Hiker kit

For more irritated hot spots, you can cover them with GlacierGel or use moleskin. Whichever you use, make sure to prep the surrounding skin using an alcohol wipe for maximum adhesion. If you use moleskin, make sure to grab a donut-shaped piece (you can get them pre-shaped here or simply cut a small hole in the center of a rectangular piece).

Position the moleskin so the hole is over the hot spot, making sure the adhesive surface isn’t touching the irritated skin. This raises the area around the hot spot, preventing further rubbing. If necessary, you can secure the moleskin in place with medical tape from your medical kit.

Blister Treatment

Sometimes blisters occur despite our best efforts. Properly treating the blister can help minimize pain and further damage to the area.

For Small Blisters

If the blister is still intact, do not puncture or drain it. Instead, follow the same steps outlined above on treating serious hot spots by protecting it with GlacierGel or moleskin. If you’re using moleskin, you may need to use several layers, as the moleskin doughnut needs to be higher than the blister to be effective.

moleskin doughnut on blister

You may need to use several layers of moleskin to get above the blister

For Large or Ruptured Blisters

If the blister is large but intact, puncture it with a clean needle or safety pin at its base and massage out the fluid. The fluid contains inflammatory juices that can delay healing.

Once you’ve punctured the blister (or if you’re dealing with one that’s already ruptured), trim away any loose skin from the bubble and clean the area with an antiseptic towel or soap and water. You should then apply antibiotic ointment and cover the area with a non-adherent dressing or GlacierGel to prevent contaminants from entering the wound and to promote healing.

applying glaciergel

GlacierGel dressings help protect and heal ruptured blisters

You can then use moleskin (or molefoam) to protect the wound from further rubbing. Use a doughnut-shaped moleskin to raise up the area around the blister – remember to use enough layers to raise the moleskin above the height of the blisters with its dressing. Secure the moleskin in place with medical tape.

You’ll want to change the dressing every day and keep a close eye on it for infection. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, increased pain, or a cloudy fluid under the dressing. If infection occurs, remove the dressing and allow the area to drain. Consult a doctor as soon as you are able.

  • Trim away any loose skin from the bubble and clean the area with an antiseptic towel or soap and water.
  • Apply antibiotic ointment and cover with a non-adherent dressing or other dressings like Glacier Gel.
  • Utilize Moleskin to protect the area. Take a small piece of moleskin and cut a circle in the center approximately the same size as the area.
  • Center the oval over the hot spot and secure into place with tape. This will act as a buffer against further rubbing. Change the dressing every day.
  • Inspect the wound daily for infection-this includes redness, swelling, increased pain, or cloudy fluid under the dressing. If infection occurs, remove the dressing and allow the area to drain. Consult a doctor as soon as you are able.

Gluing a Blister

If you are far from help and must continue walking for an extended period of time, an alternative treatment is to glue the blister in place. This method is initially painful but can be effective in backcountry scenarios, especially if you’re low on typical blister first aid supplies.

Begin by draining the blister of fluid. Then, place a small amount of tincture of benzoin (or glue if that’s all you have) in the drained blister. Press the loose skin overlying the blister back into place and cover the site with a suitable dressing (if you have nothing else, duct tape can work). The extreme pain produced by the benzoin on your skin will only last a few minutes.

glueing blisters

Tincture of benzoin is included in the Ultralight/Watertight .7 kit

Seasickness — How to Avoid it & Treat it

Friday, August 19th, 2016

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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

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