Hiking, camping, backpacking, mountain climbing – all of these are just a few of the most fun outdoor activities today. And while that may be the case, they all come with their fair share of risks. It is important that you prepare for the most common injuries when planning and packing for the next outdoor adventure.
Knowing about the common injuries and how they can be treated in the backcountry goes a long way in ensuring survival in case of emergencies. That said, here are 5 common outdoor injuries that you should be aware of.
1. Skin Ailments
These range from rashes caused by sumac to poison ivy and can ruin your trip in an instant. If you notice a skin rash, clean it with clean water. It’s also important that you isolate anything that came into contact with the rash including clothing and accessories. It also helps if you know what these poisonous plants look like because it allows you to avoid them. After all, prevention is better than cure.
Another way to protect your skin involves wearing sunscreen and a hat. This protects your skin from sun burn, which is known to cause dehydration. If affected by sunburns, rest under a shade and drink plenty of water. A bottle of aloe vera works miracles on sunburns so don’t forget to pack one.
2. Knee And Ankle Injuries
These are some of the most common injuries that affect outdoor enthusiasts. Injuries to these joints can have detrimental effects on your ability to continue your hike. The most important thing after suffering from a knee or ankle injury is to stop and address it immediately. Forcing yourself to move won’t do you any good.
The goal here is to determine whether the injury is usable or unusable. A usable injury allows one to comfortably put their weight on the joint. Wrapping such an injury with an ace bandage is enough to get you going until you get to a health facility.
If the injury is unusable, bend the knee about 5 degrees from straight for knee injuries and at 90 degrees to the lower leg for ankle injuries. Pad the injury with whatever is available, add something stiff like a canoe paddle to keep the joint from moving then cinch it all tight with a belt or webbing.
3. Snake And Insect Bites
For some, the worst that can happen while backpacking is a snake or insect bite. This is understandable as a bite from a snake or spider can have detrimental effects on your health, making it impossible for you to enjoy your trip. In the event of such nasty bites, apply a bandage over the bite.
Winding up the limb towards the body or immobilizing the limb will also help curb the effect and give you enough time to get to a hospital. Planning for insect bites is, however, more effective and easier than dealing with the bite. Pack some insect repellant and if possible, wear it at all times. Carrying weather-resistant matches for fires as well as burning ticks is also recommended.
4. Open Wounds And Cuts
These are other common injuries that can prove drastic if infected. Whether you cut your finger while preparing supper or rip your chin open when climbing rocks; it’s important to have the necessary supplies needed to clean and treat wounds if you hope to survive with your health intact.
Such include medical tape, hydrogen peroxide, cotton swabs, bandages and bacitracin. Clean and sterilize the wound using cotton swabs dipped in hydrogen peroxide. Apply bacitracin before securing it with bandages and medical tape.
While technically not an injury, blisters are an all familiar phenomenon among backcountry hikers. They can prove a nuisance and keep one from moving forward. They occur when thick skin is continually rubbed and starts to separate from the rest of the skin.
They escalate when sweaty or warm, the exact condition in hiking boots and shoes. The last thing you want to do when affected by a blister is to tough it out as this will only make things worse. Best way to manage it is to drain the fluid then treat it like a minor wound. Clean it with alcohol and water and ensure that the “roof” of the blister remains intact after puncturing a hole on the sides.
Once done, cover the area with an antibiotic ointment to prevent infections. Unless there are signs of infection, a blister is not reason enough to evacuate the patient.
It's great to be outside and have fun playing games or just camping. It is however very important to be aware of all the most common injuries that you could befall and how to treat them. I hope my list of top 5 will help you while out and about.