While exploring the wilderness can be an eminently satisfying undertaking, some of the very aspects that make it so enjoyable can also make it dangerous. Escaping from civilization can certainly be freeing. However, it also means being separated from important services—like medical care.
It’s important for each and every member of your party to be well-versed in basic first aid so that everyone can contribute effectively if there’s an emergency.
Building a Basic First Aid Kit
The first step to being prepared for a medical emergency in the wilderness is to ensure that you have the best tools available. Whether you build your own first aid kit or opt for a prepared first aid kit, you should take the initiative to ensure the kit has the following items, and that you know how to use them.
• Gloves, preferably nitrile, as latex is an all-too-common allergen. You’ll want to have quite a few pair—remember, they shouldn’t be reused.
• Athletic tape, 1 inch wide. Bring ample supplies of this—approximately one roll per person multiplied by the number of weeks you anticipate being in the wilderness. Not only is this tape essential for dressing wounds, it’s also great for preventing/treating blisters or for supporting joints (like a twisted ankle).
• Sterile wrapped gauze pads in a variety of sizes. Make sure you get some that are non-adherent, as these are ideal for certain types of wounds like abrasions or burns.
• Rolled gauze or a similar product to help maintain a dressing in place over a wound
• A tourniquet
• Basic over the counter medications: topical antibiotic cream, antihistamines, pain relievers, and gastrointestinal medications (stomach soothing medications, anti-diarrheals, etc.)
Pack your kit in an organized fashion and in a waterproof container.