Are you prepared when an emergency strikes? Reference our Hiking First Aid Checklist to make sure.
There are millions of safe hikes finished yearly. The odds of hiking with no major injury are in your favor. But accidents do happen, and being prepared for one is a priority for hikers.
With our hiking first aid checklist, your essentials are available to treat the most common injuries — Blisters, cuts, scrapes, sprains, bug bites, sunburn, and more.
For long hikes, have supplies available for overnight emergencies. Even the experienced hikers get injured or disoriented and end up unprepared in freezing nighttime weather.
Your biggest concern will be visibility and hypothermia, add a fire starter, headlamp, and emergency sleeping bag to your kit.
Hiking First Aid Checklist
A hiking first aid kit needs to be portable, and pack lightly. The kit should contain at least the following items:
- Gauze and elastic roll bandages
- Adhesive bandages of various sizes
- Anti-bacterial cream or spray
- Aspirin or Ibuprofen (depending on stomach sensitivity)
- Moleskin (for treating blisters)
- Swiss Army knife or similar
By studying your hiking area, and weather conditions, you may find the following items will be vital:
- Burn cream
- Anti-itch cream
- Hydrocortisone cream
The list of “what-ifs” is endless, but the line must be drawn somewhere. The distance of the hike, terrain, wildlife, bugs, and weather are all to be considered when packing your hiking first aid kit.
Not all dangers are visible
Some injuries that would otherwise be minor, like certain scrapes or scratches, can become serious if left untreated. By cleaning and bandaging a scrape immediately you limit your risk of infection.
Take enough water for drinking, and a little extra for washing scrapes or wounds. Avoid using water from streams, except when you have no alternative. Despite TV ads, natural water sources often are crawling with bacteria. Remember, animals live or eliminate in streams.
Are they poisonous?
That downed tree is the perfect lunch spot for you, snakes, and spiders. Which is fine, until they are poisonous.
Consider a snake bite kit if you are hiking in an area with a high concentration of poisonous snakes. Like rattlesnakes in the deserts of Nevada and Arizona. Outside of the desert, If you stay on the trail, you’ll likely never run into one.
It’s still crucial to research what snakes live in the area you’re hiking so you can quickly identify poisonous snakes.
How are the spiders?
A dangerous spider bite hiking is uncommon. Very few poisonous spiders live in areas where they are easily seen or contacted.
By avoiding crawling around wet or dark areas you shouldn’t run into many spiders. In dense woods or jungle terrain, be prepared to know what poisonous looks like.
Know how to clean cuts and scrapes
Blisters are your biggest enemy on hikes, but the most common problem is cuts. An untreated cut can quickly become infected, especially if produced by a plant rather than a rock. That’s why bandages and anti-bacterial cream or spray are listed near the top.
Treatment is simple. Clean the cut, apply disinfectant and close with a band-aid. For larger cuts, requiring gauze and roll bandage, you could have a more serious problem. You’ll have to estimate how deep is the cut and whether the bleeding is venous or arterial.
Venous bleeding is more even flowing, and often bluer. Arterial bleeding comes in spurts (as the heart pumps blood) and is usually redder. Venous bleeding can usually be clamped and the wound will self-close. Arterial spurts require special clamp-and-release techniques.
When choosing a first aid kit, look for a compact kit that easily fits in your hiking backpack.
The best first aid is caution and common sense. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid foolish risks. You and your hiking partner will be glad you did.