The farther from the beaten path you venture, the more prepared you should be for a medical emergency. Always carry a first-aid kit designed for the type of trek and the number of people in your group.
A variety of first-aid kits are available for day hikes, family camping trips or backpacking treks. Kits should be tailored to your trekking terrain, weather, the ages of hikers and your group's special medical needs.
It is important to know how to use everything in your first-aid kit beforehand. You won't have time in the middle of an emergency to read an instruction manual.
Before you go, learn about any possible hazards at your destination, such as poisonous plants, snakes and insects. Ask local officials or park rangers if you need any special gear or clothing. Locate the road and public phone closest to your campsite or trail, so you know where to summon help if it is needed.
Some organizations offer wilderness first-aid courses targeted to outdoors enthusiasts. Be sure to practice what you learn and share it with others in your party.
Good first-aid kits are available in a wide range of prices, and specialty kits are available for mountain bikers, canoeists and others.
The following items should be considered when outfitting a basic first-aid kit:
- 1 elastic-roll bandage
- Aspirin or ibuprofen
- Adhesive tape
- Alcohol swabs
- Antiseptic ointment
- Adhesive bandages, assorted sizes
- Bulb irrigating syringe
- Butterfly bandages
- Chemical heat and cold packs
- Dry-wash pads or wipes
- Diarrhea medicine
- Gauze pads
- Hydrocortisone cream (soothes allergic skin)
- Insect repellent
- Mirror, small and unbreakable
- Moleskin, 1 or 2 packets
- Cotton swab, sterile, packaged in pairs
- Safety pins
- Scissors (Swiss Army Pen Knife has scissors, small blade and nail file)
- Triangular bandage
Inspect the contents before every trip and make sure the tools are clean and supplies in good condition. Replace expired medicines and add items you wished you had brought on the last trip. Make sure the container is durable and waterproof, and stow it in an accessible compartment of your backpack.
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