Outdoor First Aid: What You Need to Know in 2019


When you’re head­ed out­doors for a back­pack­ing trip, a sim­ple camp­ing trip, hike, or what-have-you, there’s a cer­tain amount of risk involved. It’s not ter­ri­bly dif­fi­cult to get hurt in the back­coun­try, even if you take a lot of pre­cau­tion. As is often the case, the near­est hos­pi­tal or med­ical facil­i­ty may be a ways out. It’s a good idea to have at least a basic knowl­edge of out­door first aid and to be pre­pared just in case you need to treat minor injuries.

Find a good-sized kit
The first thing you need to do is find a sol­id first aid kit that hasn’t expired. Addi­tion­al­ly, make sure it has enough sup­plies in it and is still weight and size effi­cient. You don’t want some­thing ter­ri­bly heavy, but you also don’t want to skimp on sup­plies. There’s no one kit that’s per­fect for every per­son and every sport. You’re going to have to gauge it depend­ing on your sport and length of time out (below are the considerations).

Pack your kit
Dou­ble-check to make sure you have the bare essen­tials in your out­door first aid kit, whether pre-packed or put togeth­er yourself.

Always pack:

  • A decent first aid man­u­al: don’t rely on your per­son­al knowl­edge in a poten­tial­ly-emer­gency sit­u­a­tion. Infor­ma­tion and tips from a good man­u­al can mean the dif­fer­ence between a nasty infec­tion and a sim­ple cut.
  • Dis­pos­able gloves: when­ev­er han­dling an open wound, be sure to use gloves. This pro­tects you from anoth­er person’s blood and keeps germs out of the wound.
  • Reseal­able plas­tic bags: it’s a good idea to have extra reseal­able plas­tic bags for ice in case of sprain or strain.
  • Min­er­al ice: this awe­some lit­tle gel will turn cold when you apply it to help bring down pain and swelling in an injury.
  • Pain reliev­er: it’s always good to have a pain reliev­er to help reduce swelling and discomfort.
  • Anti­sep­tic tow­elettes: a must for clean­ing out wounds and for clean­ing hands before and after treat­ing one.
  • Scis­sors: it’s impor­tant to be able to cut ban­dages to the right size.
  • Triple antibi­ot­ic oint­ment: though it might not kill all the germs in the area, a top­ic antibi­ot­ic oint­ment gives wounds the right envi­ron­ment for healing.
  • Ban­dages: you’ll want to pack ban­dages of every shape and size you can think of, just in case.
  • Gauze pads and adhe­sive tape: gauze makes a per­fect cov­er for larg­er wounds.
  • Aller­gy med­ica­tion: pack anti­his­t­a­mines in case of a sting, bite, rash, or sea­son­al allergies.
  • Hydro­cor­ti­sone anti-itch cream: a good anti-itch cream is per­fect for uncom­fort­able bug bites.

Know com­mon treatments
There are a few com­mon ail­ments you might have to deal with out­doors. This includes insect bites, minor scrapes, and cuts, blis­ters, and aller­gies. When it comes to cuts and scrapes, the trick is to stop the blood, clean the wound and main­tain a clean envi­ron­ment around it as it heals to pre­vent infection.

When it comes to sprains, strains and mus­cle issues, remem­ber the RICE method—rest, ice, com­press and elevate—to pro­mote heal­ing and pre­vent fur­ther injury.