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Lifetime Outdoor Enthusiast. Completely Unprepared. – Lessons in Wilderness First Aid

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Ever wonder what you’d do if a medical emergency happened while you were out in the wilderness? One of our employees recently took a course in Wilderness First Aid at SOLO Schools. She’s extremely excited to share what she learned! – Adventure® Medical Kits

My dad and I after hiking up Mt. Lafayette

My dad and I after hiking up Mt. Lafayette

An avid hiker, I grew up scaling the White Mountains of NH with my father without injury (excluding your normal blisters and scrape). Though I lacked personal experience with first aid in the wild, I knew wilderness emergencies weren’t uncommon.

I remember the day my father came home from a hike and said he’d spent 20 minutes near the top of Mt. Lafayette helping a stranger descend only a few hundred feet of the trail. The stranger fell and shattered his kneecap on the rocks, making every step excruciating. Thankfully, they bumped into a rescue team on a practice climb that quickly became real, and my dad continued down alone.

My dad and I on top of Mt. Jackson

My dad and I on top of Mt. Jackson

Since that day, I’d often wondered what I would do if faced with an injured hiker on the trail. Would I be able to offer any help at all? Miles from professional care surrounded by trees and mountains, I wasn’t equipped to be someone’s best chance at survival, and what if that someone was my dad?

This year, I was given the opportunity to attend a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course at SOLO School of Wilderness Medicine. Walking onto the campus, I was unsure of what to expect out of the next two days. If nothing else, I was excited for the chance to learn a few first aid tips from wilderness experts. I learned much more than that.

Wilderness First Aid: Day 1

“Is anyone NOT ready?”

When you have five people about to attempt lifting an injured companion, you don’t ask “Is everyone ready?” You may not here the responding “no” over all of the “yes’s.” With a possible spinal complication, missing something and dropping your injured friend is not an option.

“Okay… one, two, three, lift!”

With one smooth motion, we lifted our patient from the cold ground to waist level, all without moving his spine. Surprised at our success, we froze for a moment, before the team leader (holding the patient’s head) followed up with, “Okay, we move on three!” We traversed the rough ground and safely placed our friend onto a foam pad. Thrilled at our success, we listened to feedback from our instructor and “injured” friend on how they felt our practice had gone.

Practicing making splints at a SOLO course

Practicing making splints at a SOLO course. PC: SOLO Schools

We’d only met each other earlier that morning, but as we stood outside the main building in the afternoon sun, our group was already beginning to turn into a team, forged by a common desire to learn and to be prepared to help others. Like me, my fellow classmates were driven by this desire to take the WFA course at SOLO. None of us were disappointed.

In 2 Days, There’s a Lot You Can Learn

Over the course of those two days, I was immersed in an innovative, hands-on learning experience. I learned how to improvise splints out of coats and bandanas, immobilize a victim’s spine with backpacks and baseball caps, and treat wounds ranging from lacerations to serious burns with items like honey and rain jackets. We covered assessing both unconscious and conscious patients, including identifying and treating life threats, monitoring vital signs, maintaining a soothing presence, and making an evacuation plan.

Improvising a leg splint. PC: SOLO Schools

How often should you change burn dressings? How do you recognize potentially life-threatening infections? When should you be concerned about a spinal injury? What should you do in a lightning storm? What are the early signs of shock, and how can you treat it? These are only a handful of the questions we learned how to answer.

New Skills to the Test

 

Assessing and caring for a patient.

Working as a team to practice assessing and caring for a patient. PC: SOLO Schools

Not only did we learn though – we also did. Hardly an hour of lecture would pass before our instructor had us outside practicing our new skills, with some of us acting as patients and some as caregivers. Outside, lifting companions, assessing broken bones, and applying pressure to stop major bleeds, our class of about 20 learned how to manage difficult patients, quickly assess scenes, and rule out spinal injuries.

Course Highlights

So out of this whirlwind weekend of knowledge and skill application, what did I enjoy most? This is gonna take a list:

  • Our instructor. Seriously – she was awesome! An amazing resource for both professional medical knowledge and practical ideas for when situations actually occur. From improvisation techniques to a great sense of humor, I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. And she encouraged questions!
  • My classmates. I emerged out of that class with new friends who love the outdoors like I do, yet have a variety of experiences and backgrounds to speak out of. They asked relevant, insightful questions of our instructor that contributed to everyone’s learning. From a grade school teacher who leads the school’s hiking club to a wilderness first responder getting recertified, our differences and similarities worked together to make learning fun and effective.
  • Learning what’s left to learn. Headed into the WFA course, I knew I didn’t know enough… but I didn’t know how much I could know! Now, I have a firm grasp of what wilderness emergencies I’m equipped to handle and which I’m not, and I’m excited about the possibility of furthering my knowledge with another SOLO course in the future.
  • Packing recommendations. Ever wonder what you should be carrying for first aid supplies? Or have a first aid kit but only a vague idea how to use it? That’s part of what makes this course so great – throughout the day, we got tips from our instructor and each other on the most useful supplies to pack and when and how to use tools like an irrigation syringe, triangular bandage, tourniquet, and more.

Choosing to Be Prepared

 

Hiking down Mt. Washington with my dad

Hiking down Mt. Washington

Whether you’re a trip leader or just an outdoor enthusiast looking to become more prepared, I highly recommend the WFA course at SOLO as a great starting point to build a foundation of first aid knowledge that could save your life, a friend’s, or a total strangers. If you own a first aid kit and haven’t taken the time to look through it, this course is a must for preparing you in how to use what’s inside. A bit of advice I learned from my course: first aid supplies are only as effective as the person carrying them.

About SOLO

The oldest continuously operating school of wilderness medicine in the world, SOLO offers wilderness medicine education on a variety levels for everyone from outdoor enthusiasts to trip leaders to trained professionals. The WFA course is a 16-hour course that provides a 2 year certification and covers the basics of backcountry medicine. On the other end of the spectrum, SOLO’s Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) course lasts a month, and participants who pass emerge with the national EMT certificate and thorough training in wilderness-specific medicine and long-term care. Courses can be attended on their campus in Conway, NH, or at off-site locations across the United States.

8 Edible Plants (and Their Killer Cousins!)

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

Ever wonder what you’d do if you found yourself in the wild without sufficient food and water? To survive, finding water has to be a top priority, but once you’ve found drinkable water, you’ll need to determine what’s safe to eat. We asked Paul Turner, an avid outdoor traveler with experience finding food in the wild, for some tips on identifying edible plants and avoiding poisonous ones. Not only did he send us some amazing information, but some fun recipes to try as well! – Adventure® Medical Kits

Finding Food in the Wild

I had a chance to attend a short survival course in Brunei, a country filled with biodiverse rainforest. The course had me breaking a wild chicken’s neck and skinning a frog just to prepare whatever meals we can get in the forest. Of course, there are less gory ways to get food when you’re out in the wilderness.

You can impress your family and friends by finding the edible plants and preparing exotic meals. If not, it’s still a good knowledge to have just in case you’re lost in the forest and have finished your food supplies (I hope this never happens!). It’s important you know what plants are poisonous so you don’t end up harming yourself or your friends.

One bite from the Deathcap Mushroom can bring you to the underworld and it only takes one Belladonna leaf to make you so sick, you may wish you were dead. Additionally, just like some people are allergic to poison ivy while some are not, you may have an allergy or personal health concern that others may not have. For this reason, I urge you to adopt this mantra: If you’re not sure about a plant, don’t pick, cook, or eat it. 

Plants that Kill

Doll’s Eyes

Doll's Eyes
Description: White berries taste sweet and act like a sedative, stopping the heart and causing a quick death.
Characteristics: This flower looks scary enough that you wouldn’t want to try it. It looks like a bunch of eyeballs connected with red branches.
Where to find it: Found on the eastern side of US and Canada. The flower blooms from late summer to early fall.

Angel’s Trumpets


Description: This pretty looking but deadly plant can cause heart failure, paralysis, and coma.
Characteristics: Its flowers looks like a bunch of dangling white, yellow, or pink bells.
Where to find it: Originally from South America, it is common now as a home-grown plant.

Strychnine Trees


Description: Bears green to orange fruit so toxic that 30 mg. can trigger convulsions and death.
Characteristics: The funnel-shaped flowers let off a rotten smell, and the orange berries are covered in a smooth and hard shell.
Where to find it: Found in southern Asia, India, Sri Lanka, and Australia.

English Yew


Description: It is safe for birds – they know which parts are poisonous – but just 50g could stop your heart.
Characteristics: These evergreen plants have needles, not leaves. Its berries have a seed sitting inside that is lethal.
Where to find it: Commonly found in churchyards in the UK.

Water Hemlock


Description: They are North America’s most poisonous plant, triggering seizures and death.
Characteristics: The green or white flowers are grouped together, looking like an umbrella.
Where to find it: Commonly found along streams and in wet meadows.

Wolfsbane


Description: Its poison is so virulent, indigenous people tipped their arrows in it when they hunted.
Characteristics: This plant has helmet-shaped flowers that come in white, pale greenish-white, pale greenish-yellow and purplish-blue colors.
Where to find it: Commonly found in the mountains.

Rosary Pea


Description: This climbing vine with red seeds is 75-times more powerful than Ricin.
Characteristics: The plant has a red pea with a black spot at one end that looks like a ladybug.
Where to find it: Commonly found in tropical areas around the world.

Belladonna Berries


Description: 10-to-20 Belladonna berries can kill an adult. It causes hallucinations and severe delirium.
Characteristics: They look similar to other berries but have white or purple flowers that are in the shape of a star.
Where to find it: Tropical areas in the US.

Castor Plant


Description: Their seeds contain Ricin. Eat four, and you’d better have a will.
Characteristics: The plants have fluffy red flowers and star-shaped leaves.
Where to find it: Spread across tropical regions and also commonly homegrown as ornamental plants.

Edible Plants

Salmon Berries


Description: They look like over-sized raspberries that are yellow, orange, or red when ripe.
Characteristics: The easiest way to spot them is to find the bright pink flower on their plants.
How to eat it: Give them a good squeeze to create a refreshing juice. Save a portion, drop in some pectin, and make Salmon Berry Jellies.
Nutrient value: High manganese contents with plenty of Vitamin C and K.
Taste: The taste can vary from bland to sweet.
Where to find it: Found in open forest areas along the Pacific Coast from California to Alaska.

Cattails


Description: They’re very distinct looking with willowy, long stems and fuzzy, elongated heads.
Characteristics: White stem bottoms are delicious eating; use the heads as campfire tinder.
How to eat it: Fry, chop for a salad or show off your campfire baking skills by making prehistoric bread using this recipe.
Nutrient value: Includes vitamin K, magnesium, fiber, iron, and vitamin B6.
Taste: Cattail eaters say it tastes like bitter cucumber.
Where to find it: Around the circumference of water-based wetlands.

Dandelions


Description: Dandelions grow wild in clusters, covering fields each spring.
Characteristics: Look for bright yellow flowers and willowy stems.
How to eat it: Eat the entire dandelion: roots, leaves, stems, and flowers. Use a cast iron pan to make dandelion greens with garlic.
Nutrient value: Vitamins A and C, plus lots of beta carotene.
Taste: They taste bitter raw, but are delicious when cooked.
Where to find it: Once spring arrives, they’re everywhere!

Lamb’s Quarters


Description: This plant looks nothing like lambs, but it pairs well with chops.
Characteristics: Broad leaves resemble and taste like spinach and are best picked before flowers appear.
How to eat it: Add leaves to your salad or chop up young shoots and add them to stew. Camping with vegans? Make a pot of Chole Saag.
Nutrient value: Packed with protein, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium, but keep your portion size down if you’re prone to kidney stones.
Taste: In the same ballpark as spinach, chard, kale, and collards.
Where to find it: Fields, forests, gardens, and near rivers and streams.

Wild Onions


Description: Resembles chives, ramps, and garlic. Look for scallion-like shoots poking out of the ground. NOTE: Death Camas are wild onion’s dangerous doppelganger. If the plant does not smell like onion, do not eat it.
Characteristics: Wild onions add flavor to foods, and eating them can also reduce blood pressure and lower blood sugar.
How to eat it: Wash and chop for salads, stews, soups, and chili or make this breakfast treat: Cook a cup of washed, peeled, and chopped wild onions in a cup of stock until liquid is absorbed. Stir in 6 eggs, salt, and pepper then scramble.
Nutrient value: Get a big boost of vitamin C, plus other vitamins and minerals.
Taste: Delicious. If you never met an onion you couldn’t eat, wild onions may be the best forest find of all.
Where to find it: Fields and forest floors, especially in cool weather. Always sniff before you pick. If you don’t detect an onion or garlic odor, it’s not an authentic wild onion, so don’t harvest it.

Pine Trees


Description: There are 100+ types of pine trees on Earth – most have edible bark and needles.
Characteristics: Needles grow in clusters, often exclusively at treetops.
How to eat it: You can eat pine nuts, simmer needles in water to make tea, and boil or pan fry white inner bark. NOTE: Don’t consume any part of these pine species: Ponderosa, Lodgepole, Juniper, Monterey Cypress, or Western Yellow.
Nutrient value: Pine is rich in vitamins A and C.
Taste: Bark tastes “pine-like,” but when cooked, it assumes the flavors of recipe ingredients. Try making Crispy Pine Bark by slicing bark into thin chips and frying them.
Where to find it: Pines grow on every continent.

Clover


Description: Found throughout the world, clover is a tiny, vivid green plant that grows in thick clusters.
Characteristics: Clover leaves have distinctive trefoil leaflets, but lucky ones have 4 rather than 3. If you find a 4-leaf clover you may want to save it for luck rather than cook it! Flowers are red or white.
How to eat it: Clover tastes better boiled or sautéed than raw. Eat the young flowers of either color, but not the aging brown ones.
Nutrient value: According to Denmark’s Department of Forage Crops, white clover has more minerals and proteins than grass.
Taste: Clover can taste bitter if eaten raw but if you cook it, it’s delicious. Use the youngest leaves – particularly if you brew clover tea with honey to soothe a sore throat.
Where to find it: Just about every open area that’s covered with grass.

Plantain


Description: This broad-leaf weed grows wild just about everywhere. You can eat the stalks and the leaves. Harvest in the spring for best taste.
Characteristics: Considered by  to be one of the 5 healthiest backyard plants on the planet, look for rippled, green leaves, tall stems and flowers. Don’t confuse this weed with the tree that bears banana-like fruit.
How to eat it: Plantain is delicious pan fried in olive oil – especially if leaves are young and tender. If stalks are less than 4 inches high, they’ll be tastier. When preparing, the tough, fibrous stems are at the bottom and tender parts on top.
Nutrient value: Like dandelions, this weed is packed with vitamins and minerals. Place a leaf on a burn, insect bite, or wound if you find yourself in need of first aid.
Taste: Called “the poor-man’s fiddlehead,” plantain tastes like asparagus, though leaves can assume flavorings of other ingredients when cooked.
Where to find it: One plant expert calls this weed “as ubiquitous in the city as broken glass,” but it’s equally prevalent in rural fields and forest floors.

Bloom Where You’re Planted

These 8 specimens of edible plants are just the tip of the iceberg, as there are so many more plants you can pick and eat while camping. I haven’t even touched on the subject of mushrooms! Be careful to correctly identify plants, and you’ll stay safe, enjoy new taste sensations, and become even more comfortable every time you camp.

About the Author

Paul Turner is a certified instructor trained in tying various knots and has conducted high rope courses for kids. He is also the man behind TakeOutdoors.com, which provides insights of camping and gear guides for the outdoor enthusiasts. Follow him on Facebook and Pinterest.

 

 

Sources
Angel Trumpets by Asit K. Ghosh under Creative Commons License
Rosary Pea by Homer Edward Price under Creative Commons License

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.

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.

Lost? The First Things 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.

First Rule of Survival: S.T.O.P. 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.

Signaling

If you’ve decided to sit tight and wait for help, this is a great time to start signaling for assistance. Consider adding a whistle to your gear. Many packs come standard with a whistle built into the chest strap. Alternatively, you can purchase a whistle and hang it from your pack.

Survival signal whistle

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 you can stay warm in the event of an overnight.

Other Survival Tips

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.

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)

What’s in My Pack: Summer Skiing in the Tetons with Adventurer Thomas Woodson

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

image001

I have a pretty good streak for going skiing every month. 35 to be exact — every month since I moved west and started skiing. During these lonely summer months most of my friends have packed up their gear and look at me with insanity when I’m searching for partners. This leaves me on my own, hiking for hours, searching out the last glimpse of shrinking glaciers in the Rocky Mountains.

As a Wilderness First Responder, being out solo can create a challenging headspace. I try to use speed and lightness to create my own margin of safety. But I still carry a first aid kit like the Mountain Series Day Tripper. When you’re in an alpine environment, you’re your own first responder. Emergency response and evacuations take longer out there. So get prepared, the kits include professional quality supplies so it’s worth checking out. You read about many accidents from inexperienced hikers in these locations as well, so I want to feel prepared to assist others.

The SOL Thermal Bivvy is an integral part of my medical kit. Environment is a great concern during wilderness patient care, especially if trauma is involved. Having warmth and protection from the elements can make quite the difference. I also carry base layers in a dry bag, which provide ample warmth underneath a lightweight rain shell in the summer, or can be used to pad a makeshift splint or c-collar.

For communication outside cell range, I carry a SPOT Satellite Messenger with my trip plan tied in with my S.O.S. message. The optional rescue insurance is a plus as well.

image002 copy

Miscellaneous things… For boot/binding repair when skiing, I carry a multi-tool, duct tape, zip ties and bailing wire. That combined with a ski strap can fix just about anything.

Here are more of my favorite items:

I’m stoked for more adventure and continue to encourage all of my adventure partners to sign up for a Wilderness First Responder course. See you in the mountains!

About Thomas Woodson

I’m a van based adventure photographer chasing film projects and snow storms across the west. My passion for photography overtook my design career after moving to Colorado. Working full-time chasing athletes around the world, I partners with brands to craft authentic stories of adventure. Despite a change in tools, design plays an active role in everything I do. www.thomaswoodson.com.

Finding Water in the Wild – Survive Outdoors Longer Survival Tips

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

A male hiker refreshes with a drink of water while standing next to a river in a tropical jungle.

SURVIVE OUTDOORS LONGER- Survival Skills to know if your adventure turns into a misadventure.

Anytime you’re a few hours off the trail or deep in the backcountry, you are assuming risk and should be prepared for potentially life threatening situations like getting lost or injured. That’s why it’s good to know some basic outdoor survival skills. Follow our series for the Water, Fire, Shelter and Signaling tips you’ll need to survive.

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

Finding Water in the Wild

In an emergency situation, you can live about 3-5 days without water. If survival forces you to drink from a stagnant or muddy pool, remember that is it better drink dirty water than to die of dehydration. Strain muddy water through a cloth or water-purifying filter if you have one.

Thirst is a poor indication of dehydration. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink. Drink plenty of water wherever it is available. If water is not available, it is best not to eat as the body needs fluids to process and breakdown food.

Look for water in low lying areas or a depression. In dry areas, plants with plenty of green leafy growth indicate a water source. Dig down a few feet and wait for water to accumulate in the pit.

Collect rainwater in your survival blanket and channel it into a container

Do not eat un-melted snow or ice. Your body gives up heat to melt the snow or ice and your mouth can swell and can prevent you from eating and drinking.

Do not drink seawater, alcohol or urine

WAtersill

Make a solar sill:

  • Did a hole about 3 feet wide and 2 ½ feet deep in a low area with good sun exposure.
  • If available, place green, leafy vegetation in the hole to increase the moisture content.
  • Place a wide mouthed container on the bottom of the hole.
  • Cover the hole with your survival blanket so that it dips down toward the center of the hole.
  • Secure the blanket with sand and dirt so there is an airtight seal.
  • Center a small rock in the middle of the blanket over the container. Water will condense on the underside of the blanket and drop into the container.

How to Prevent and Treat Heat Exhaustion and Dehydration

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

thirst

As we move into the heart of summer, it’s wise to remember the risks that high temperatures, sun, humidity and exertion can bring. Regardless of athletic prowess, age, or gender, the weather has an enormous affect on our bodies. Some days it’s better to adjust your plans and explore when the heat is less intense in the early mornings or after the sun has set. Keeping hydrated is key to preventing heat illness. Water is the fuel our bodies need to cool from the inside out

Sweating is the main source of cooling the body during exertion and warm conditions. When you’re overheated, the blood vessels near the skin dilate so that more blood can reach the surface and dissipate heat. If you’ve waited too long to drink water and have become dehydrated, the body is limited in its ability to sweat and evaporate heat.

Read on to learn how to address heat-related illnesses and how you can prevent them on your next outing. And Always grab a first aid kit and basic survival gear so you’ll be ready and #AdventureEquipped.

Basic first Aid Skills- Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke

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

Heat Exhaustion

Signs and Symptoms

Typical symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Flu-like symptoms (weakness, malaise, headache, nausea and loss of appetite)
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness upon standing or a laying position
  • Dehydration
  • Elevated core temperature(usually below 104F
  • Sweating

Treatment

  • Stop all exertion and move patient to cool and shaded area
  • Remove restrictive clothing
  • Administer water and oral rehydration solutions
  • **Ice or cold packs, if available, should be placed alongside the body, under armpits and on the groin area. Don’t place ice packs directly on the skin as they may induce frostbite. Protect the skin by buffering the skin with a cloth.
  • Additional cooling methods include submerging the patient in cool water or wetting the skin with cold water and fanning the patient.

When should you worry?

Heatstroke

Heat exhaustion that is not treated can progress into Heatstroke, which is a life-threatening medical emergency. Anyone suffering from a heat illness that begins to show altered mental states (loss of coordination, bizarre behavior, confusion) should be treated for heatstroke with rapid cooling and transported to the hospital.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Elevated temperature (above 40C/105F)
  • Altered mental state
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid respiration
  • Sweating present but may be absent in some cases

Treatment:

  • Cool the victim as quickly as possible, using methods noted above**
  • Do not give the victim anything to drink because of the risk of vomiting.
  • Do not administer acetaminophen or aspirin
  • Treat for shock-keep the victim lying down, covered and insulated from the ground. Elevate the legs so that gravity can improve blood circulation to the heart and brain.
  • Evacuate the victim to the closest medical facility

Prevention:

Keep yourself hydrated.

Dehydration is the most important contributing factor leading to heat illness. Thirst is a poor indication of dehydration. Do not wait until you are thirsty to drink. During exercise your body can easily sweat away 1-2 Liters( 1-2 quarts) of water per hour. Refuel with at least .5 Liters water every 20 minutes throughout the day to insure you’re adequately hydrated. In some cases, you may need more water. The best way to tell if you are hydrated is by urine color. Clear to pale yellow urine indicates you’re drinking enough. Dark, yellow colored urine indicates dehydration (Note: some medications and vitamins can turn urine yellow/orange)

Exercise in the early morning or late afternoon when the sun is low and the heat is less intense. The potential for developing heat illness is greatest when the temperatures are above 35C/95F and the humidity level is over 80%.

Allow yourself adequate time to acclimatize before exercising for prolonged periods in the heat. It takes the body about 10 days to become acclimatized to a heat environment.

Wear clothing that is lightweight and loose-fitting for ventilation and light-colored to reflect heat.

Get plenty of rest. A U.S. Army study found a correlation between lack of sleep, fatigue and heat illness.

Avoid certain medications and drugs like antihistamines, anti-hypertension drugs etc. They can predispose you to heat illness.

The Tower of Mordor

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016
Photo: Matthew Parent

All Photos: Matthew Parent

Adventure Medical Kits’ Adventurer Gareth Leah’s Pico Cão Grande Expedition

A dark tower of volcanic rock shrouded in clouds dominates the unearthly landscape. Formed millennia ago when high-pressure magma solidified inside the vent of an active volcano, its presence is foreboding. This is the peak of Cão Grande, a 370m volcanic plug situated deep in the jungle on the island of São Tomé in sub-Saharan Africa.

Prior to the expedition, I’d spent a year planning (mainly dreaming) of the day I would be able to visit this island whose landscapes resembled a scene from a Jurassic Park movie. It was a project I knew was ambitious on so many levels. Everything had to be carefully planned and arranged, as the island offers almost nothing in the way of purchasable goods or medical help. If something was to go wrong, we would be on our own.

Arriving on the island was a cultural eye opener. Stray dogs running wild through the busy streets, a seven-person family riding a single 125cc motorbike, a balancing act fit for a circus performance. Navigating the narrow roads that winded south from the capital we arrived at Agripalm plantation, the furthest point we could reach before being forced to continue on foot through the jungle. A 3km hike through thick jungle and we emerged at the base of the wall, greeted unknowingly by a 100m high roof that jutted out some 30m. There was no information on the peaks rock formation prior to arrival and standing at the base we gained a very real sense of the task at hand.

image003        image002         image004

We climbed in 14-hour shifts every day for 4 weeks and had only 1 attempt on each pitch to make it happen before we had to leave the island. In the end we established a new 15 pitch 455m line up the wall, which goes at F8b (5.13d). We named it Nubivagant (Wandering in the clouds).

When we at last stood atop the peak, we were blown away by the magnitude of the challenge and not just by the climbing! It had been wrought with difficulties, many of which had threatened to end the project from the start. Luggage problems, blown battery chargers, generator issues, snake bites, jungle logistics, currency exchange, sickness and stuck vehicles all looked that they would stop us in achieving our goal. However, with each new obstacle that stood in our path, we would find a solution, though none were what you would describe as “traditional”.

Having now completed the route and with time to reflect upon the island, the peak and the people we have encountered along the way. I am thankful in all that I have gained from the trip which amounts to a lot more than just a new route, but new friends, skills and an understanding of a life where people are masters of their environment.

About Gareth
Gareth Leah is a worldly adventurer, passionate writer, business developer and rock climber. Born and raised in UK, he discovered rock climbing and quickly became obsessed with adventure and the unique problem solving qualities it presented. Leah owns his own guiding company and is currently living in Mexico, where he is working to grow climbing as a community, culture and sport through development of new climbing areas, local communities projects, and industry education and awareness. He supports a number of causes that benefit climbers such as, the Access Fund and Climbers Against Cancer. See more at www.GazLeah.com.

Essential Gear for the Journey:
Bug Spray – Natrapel
This stuff works great. I like the non-Deet option and it smells great.

Ben’s Face Net-Great to have when the bugs were fierce.

Ben’s clothing spray – We sprayed the entire basecamp with it. Tents, clothes, sheets etc and it definitely worked at keeping the bugs at bay.

Adventure Medical Kits Comprehensive- This was amazing to have. There were a handful of cuts, small health issues such as diarrhea, fever, headaches, vomiting, all the good stuff you get from visiting a jungle that no ones really been too. I think the really good thing about this was the book. When people were becoming sick, i used it to help diagnose the problem and decide on a solution.

Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight .7– It is great to have in the backpack. It has all the essentials needed to deal with common problems. If you can’t fix your problem with this kit, you’re up a creek and need an EMT anyway.

Dental Kit – I never used it in the end, my fillings held out. However, I did use it on one of the locals who developed a MASSIVE abscess in his molar. The information in the pack gave again helped me diagnose and decide the best solution. Using some broad spectrum antibiotics and this kit I was able to clean the wound out, numb the pain and he is now perfectly back to normal. Huge success!

10 Essentials Every Hiker Should Carry

Monday, June 27th, 2016

Lost-Photographer-0540

Headed out on a hike or even a multi-day backpacking adventure? Make sure you plan ahead for emergencies. We’ve assembled a list of the key items you should make room for in your pack.

While it may seem silly to carry them on your short hike, you’ll be grateful for these aids when you might need them.

 

 

 

 

 

The Essential List:

The most important thing you can pack before any adventure is knowledge. Know your abilities, know the area you are traveling and know the weather.

Navigation:

A compass and map of the area you are exploring. If you pack a GPS, always bring along extra batteries or a map/compass as a backup. Not sure how to find your way. Consider a navigation course to learn the skills. REI.COM sells a variety of GPS units including this Garmin.

GPS
Sun Protection:

Up high in the mountains or in harsh desert sun, sunglasses and sunscreen keep your eyes and skin protected from the sun’s rays. A broad rimmed hat works wonders out on glaciated terrain. Try SOL Sunscreens, great for when you’re in the mountains or in the water.

SOL
Insulation:

It might be sunny at the start of your hike but temperature and weather can change in an instant. Be sure to pack an extra layer based upon the worst weather you might encounter. Bonus, bring along a light hat and gloves and you’ll save 20% of your body heat. Try Mountain Hardwear’s Whisper Jacket, it’s light and packs to the size of a baseball.

MH
Illumination:

Carry a headlamp. Repeat, Carry a headlamp! Even if you plan to end your hike by dark, delays can happen, darkness comes quickly and you’ll be able to continue on even in rugged terrain. The Petzl Tika is fit for the job.

Tikka
 

 

First Aid Kit:

Nothing ruins a hike faster than blisters, bee stings, scrapes and cuts. Bring along a first aid kit stocked with supplies you might need. Not sure how to treat ailments? Adventure Medical Kits’ products include pre-labeled pouches and a first aid manual with how-tos.

0125-0290 AMK Ultralight Watertight 9 RT copy
 

 

Fire:

And then Man or Woman had fire. Staying warm and dry is key in the event you get stranded out in the wilderness. Bring along fire cubes or a fire starter kit so you can light a fire easily.

0140-1230 SOL Fire Lite Kit STRT

Multi Tool:
A knife, multi tool and duct tape can be super handy for almost any need. Cutting, fixing and taping are a handy wilderness skill!

Food:
Make sure to carry at least an extra day’s worth of food. We like hearty bars and snacks that are lightweight and packed with fuel.s and map of the area you are exploring. If you pack a GPS, always bring along extra batteries or a map/compass as a backup. Not sure how to find your way. Consider a navigation course to learn the skills. REI.COM sells a variety of GPS units including this Garmin.

Water:
Carry a water bottle or reservoir. We don’t recommend drinking out of streams unless you have a filter or water purifier. Be sure to note water availability. Adults should have about 2 liters of water for a daylong hike. Stay hydrated by drinking water before you begin your hike, small amounts through the day and later refuel post-hike.

Shelter:

Day hikers are most likely to leave this off their list, but they shouldn’t. It could make a huge difference if you need to shelter someone who is hurt or find yourself in a downpour. Consider packing a light tarp, bivvy sack or emergency blanket.

0140-1138_SOL_Emergency_Bivvy_Laid_Out
Other items you may want to consider:

Insect repellent, Blister treatments, whistle and signaling device.

0006-6878-Natrapel-6oz-Eco-Spray-STRT