Accidents happen, and when they occur in the middle of nowhere, where there are no hospitals around or even people to help, you better be prepared. As the song goes, hope for the best but expect the worst!
The most inconvenient emergency situations often happen in the wild when you least expect it. With that, let’s talk about some injuries that may occur when you’re outdoors and how to treat them.
One of the most common injuries that occur outdoors is ankle-related. This may be due to turning an ankle over on loose gravel or a steep trail. To treat this, always remember the acronym R.I.C.E which means rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
First, rest the injured part by getting off of it instantly. Then, put ice to reduce the swelling. This can be possible if you brought cold drinks in a cooler with you. But if you’re in the trail, use snow packs or soaked t-shirt wrapped in the ankle. Remember not to compress too tightly as it might cut off circulation.
Lastly, elevate the ankle above the level of the heart. Do the whole process for 20 minutes then let it rest for 15 minutes, and carry on with the hike, let the injured party rest every two hours.
To prevent this during backpacking, make sure you lose weight, wear appropriate shoes, warm up the muscles with stretches, and avoid hiking on uneven terrain.
In the event of hypothermia, the body temperature of the individual has dropped low and it can cause their death if not treated immediately. This means managing this situation required one to act fast.
Get the person out of the cold element as soon as possible by placing them near a fire or other heat source. Remove any wet clothing and cover them with an emergency blanket, a cloth, or other insulating material that is dry.
Animal Attack and Wounds
Some wild animals shy away from people, but when they’re with their pack, they may be dangerous. These animals include grizzly bears, mountain lions, wolves, etc. Grizzly bears love to wander near streams and edges of meadows.
To avoid an animal attack, keep your food stored away from where you stay. Don’t ever carry open food with you as the smell may attract them. Carry a potent pepper spray with you and make a lot of noises to deter them before you see them.
If you have one, you better carry a rifle with you. Rifles specifically rated for hunting and defense in grizzly bear country are the Ruger Hawkeye Alaskan (.375 Ruger) and the Winchester Model 70 Alaskan (.375 H&H).
If you spot one, wave your arms and scream at it. Throw rocks and sticks at it and try to roar at them to scare them and look dangerous. A mountain lion can be bluffed or scared off.
As for alligator attacks, make sure to run the opposite direction when they try to chase you. Remember not to get closer than 15 feet near an alligator.
In case you get cuts, wounds, or abrasions, the first step is to stop the bleeding. Afterward, clean the wound. Do not do this in a stream, river, or lake. Then, apply an antiseptic cream, rubbing alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide, and bandage it well. Make sure to have all the necessary supplies for treating these types of injuries.
If the wound is too deep, trail stitches are sometimes a necessity. You can apply super glue for smaller cuts. Although it might burn, it’s better than stapling your cuts shut. This may sound barbaric but you can do it.
If you got bitten by a poisonous snake, keep the affected area at heart level to reduce the flow of venom. Allow it to bleed freely for 15-30 seconds by removing accessories or clothing on the affected area. Then, try to contact medical help and evacuate the victim as soon as possible.
Monitor their vital signs like temperature, pulse, rate of breathing, and blood pressure if you can. If you see signs of shock, try to calm them down as fear can be more dangerous than the bite. Also, try identifying the snake to inform the medical experts.
Of you’re hiking or trekking in a hot area and you notice signs of heat exhaustion, act on it immediately before it leads to heatstroke. Symptoms of this include dizziness, flushed face, swelling extremities, and being hot without sweating.
Treat this with any water and electrolytes. Get the person out of the sun and ask them to eat something with sugars and minerals in it. Make sure to do it until the swelling has passed.
Take note that people with a history of low blood pressure are the most prone to heat exhaustion.
Some outdoor activities make you susceptible to head injuries. The difference between head injuries and other types is that the former can be difficult to detect since the head may not bleed or swell too much.
Use the AVPU scale to see how injured the person is, where A is the best and U is the worst. A is for alert, meaning the individual should know who he is, where he is, and what happened. V is for verbal. Does he respond to verbal stimuli but remain disoriented? P is for painful, meaning the person only responds to painful stimuli like being poked. U is for unresponsive, meaning they don’t have any of the responses mentioned.
Evacuate them immediately and call medical experts.
Hope for the Best, but Prepare for the Worst
Being prepared for injuries during outdoor activities not only entails having everything inside your backpack but also learning the skills to handle these common injuries outdoors. You have to respect the wild. Respect the fact that rocks may fall and that animals get hungry. The best you can do is to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.