While the majority of hiking excursions occur without incident, at some point, an accident may take place. Hikers are prepared for the unexpected by taking along a first aid kit. There are ready-made kits available. However, some may prefer creating their own. It is also a good idea to download a basic first aid app. In this way, should an accident occur, the hiker has step by step instructions as to how to handle the situation.
Pre-made kits often come in velcro-enclosed cases with compartments containing specialized items. Find a lightweight means of carrying the first aid items. A resealable plastic bag works in a pinch to prevent moisture contamination while keeping items in one central location. Make sure that all medications are clearly labeled.
Basic kits should include the following items:
- Alcohol or another type of antiseptic wipes
- Antibiotic ointment
- Various sizes of non-stick gauze pads
- Bandage tape
- Antihistamine capsules or tablets
- OTC pain relief medication
- Scissors or multi-tool knife
- Insect sting medication
More comprehensive kits include:
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Poison oak/poison ivy remedy
- Cotton swabs
- Latex or another type of gloves
- Heat reflecting blanket
- Headlamp or flashlight
- Water treatment tablets or portable filter device
- Variety of bandages
- Ace wrap
- Syringes for cleansing wounds or extracting oral fluids
- CPR mask
Taking a wilderness first aid course is a good idea for frequent hikers. The courses combine lectures, skills labs, and simulations to prepared hikers for potential disasters. The Wilderness Medicine Training Center also offers a variety of items in their store that may prove useful if hikers are confronted with a medical emergency.
The National Outdoor Leadership School is another option for learning vital first aid skills. The organization offers two and three-day comprehensive courses and are offered in many cities across the country. The group additionally offers leadership courses that provide academic credit while embarking on exciting journeys by land or water.
In lieu of the COVID-19 pandemic, some popular trails may be closed. Ranger stations and other normally accessible facilities also remain closed. Avoid venturing to restricted areas. Keep in mind that first responders remain busy dealing with COVID-19 emergencies. If planning a hike in the near future, be prepared and adhere to recommended safety precautions.