Before you begin any hiking adventure, you must first take all the necessary precautions. The trick is to be prepared before you head out. Hiking injuries can happen to even the most experienced outdoorsman, so consider these injury prevention hiking tips.
First Aid Tips for Hiking Injury Prevention
First and foremost, hiking tips always begin with prevention—that is, preventing hiking injuries. So making sure to bring everything and plan for everything is key. For starters, let’s focus on some of the things you need to prevent such an occurrence:
- Plan and pack for any weather condition. You never know if hypothermia or hyperthermia could be potential.
- You can never pack too much water. Hydration is the most important thing while you’re hiking.
- If the sun is out and so are you, sunburns are not just a possibility, but a huge risk to your health. Wear at least SPF 25 sunscreen.
- Pack lots and lots of bug spray.
- Always watch where you walk. Getting a cut in the wild can introduce parasites, fungus, and bacteria you won’t encounter in an urban area, into your bloodstream.
- Wear decent hiking boots and gear. Don’t be lazy and wear your sneakers, nor should you ever wear sandals or flip-flops.
- Bring disinfecting cream or gel in case of cuts.
With that said, accidents do happen to very best of us. Take into consideration these preventative measures while learning these first aid tips for hiking.
When dealing with sprains while hiking, all you have to do is remember this delicious acronym: RICE.
Rest: Make sure to use the sprained area as little as possible to prevent any more damage or pain.
Ice: Hopefully you packed an ice pack, but if you didn’t, look for some snow or a cool stream of water. You want to cool the injury as much as possible as to reduce any swelling.
Compression: Applying pressure to the affected area will help to reduce swelling as well. You don’t want to reduce blood flow too much, as this could be problematic.
Elevation: Make sure to raise the affected area above the heart. This will help regulate the blood flow. Don’t start hiking again until it starts to feel better. It’s important to note that you’ll most likely not feel 100% better until you get professional help. In the meantime, get a walking stick to help you finish the hike home.
If you walk a considerable distance, you’ll more than likely get blisters. While they’re nothing to be concerned about, they can be uncomfortable, especially on a hike.
You can get blisters from wearing hiking boots or socks that just don’t fit right. Always make sure your boots are comfortable and well-fitting before departing. Make sure your socks don’t slide down your feet, exposing the heel to the rough bottom of the boot. This could create uncomfortable and damaging friction, causing blisters.
In terms of hiking injuries, this doesn’t even compare to some of the harsher outdoor injuries that could occur, but it’s still important to treat them properly.
If you want to get rid of the blister and prevent further discomfort, you must first sterilize and cleanse a needle or other sharp object you may have (do NOT try to sterilize in an outdoor river or stream. They’re loaded with microbes and parasites). Use the needle to poke a hole in the blister and drain it completely. Once it’s drained, wrap up the affected area semi-tightly.
If you ever get cut while hiking, you don’t want to take any chances at all. You’re at a much greater risk for infection while you’re out in the wild. You should immediately take action, stop what you’re doing, and assess the situation. Then, do what you have to do:
For small cuts: Apply disinfectant to the cut, and then put a bandage on it.
For larger, more severe cuts: Disinfect the wound as much as you can, and then stop the bleeding. You can do this by applying a tourniquet using a piece of cloth or a belt. Using a tourniquet requires a little extra reading and caution.
Hypothermia and hyperthermia
When the environmental conditions of your hike get the better of you, it could be a life or death situation. Whether it be too cold or too hot, you should already be prepared for both. Further prevention tactic: don’t get lost and not know your way back. Hypothermia is a rising cause of death for American hikers.
Hypothermia and hyperthermia show unique symptoms called “umbles:” mumbles, grumbles, stumbles, and fumbles. If one of your hiking buddies show this sort of behavior, it’s a tell-tale sign.
If you get cold, you start shivering: it’s your body’s natural reaction to the cold and it works to keep you warm. But if you stop shivering, it’s not a good sign: it’s your body shutting down.
When this happens (or preferably before it gets to that point), you should remove any wet clothing you have on and snuggle up inside a dry thermal blanket. If there’s somebody with you, they should be prepared to take their clothes off and keep close to you.
If it’s hyperthermia you’re suffering from, try to cool down by any means necessary. Try to locate a cool place like a cold stream, or a shaded area. If you have ice with you, try your best to “bathe” in it until help arrives.
If You Require Urgent Care
Hiking injuries are completely preventable, but some illnesses are not. If you become sick and need quick care, come to Las Vegas Urgent Care and we’ll take care of you.