Q: How do you decide which first aid items to take with you on a day hike?
A: I look at the weather, length of hike, type of terrain, number of people, time of day/year (is there a chance I’ll get stuck out overnight?). You also want to think about items that cannot be improvised and consider those that can be. For example a cotton t-shirt or bandana can work as gauze or a cravat (triangular bandage), but we can’t improvise medical gloves and CPR masks. The first aid kit is fluid based on these factors.
Q: Which first aid items should you always carry with you?
A: There are a few essentials for any hiking trip including disposable medical gloves, pocket mask, blister care, gauze/bandages for bleeding control and cuts/scraps, an elastic bandage or triangular bandage, splinting materials. You also want to consider a way to clean wounds, and a way to purify water. The splinting materials can be improvised from items you might have with you like a fleece, bandana, camp chair, or hiking poles. I also consider items like matches/fire starter, headlamp/flashlight, and a pocketknife.
Q: Are there items people might consider adding to their kit for the fall/winter (as opposed to summer/spring)?
A: Absolutely! In all seasons I think of my backpack as my first aid kit - not just the gauze and bandages in the First Aid Kit. In cooler weather, first and foremost bring an extra base layer, such as long underwear, and a rain jacket/pants. Rain gear isn’t just for rain but helps to keep you warm from the wind and prevent heat loss which can protect against hypothermia. When caring for a sick or injured person in the backcountry, keeping them warm and dry is a high priority. It’s not a bad idea to have along an extra pair of socks especially if you are prone to blisters or there is risk of getting your feet wet. You still want to consider sun exposure during fall/winter and consider the reflection of the sun off surfaces like snow and exposed rock, which can cause a nasty sunburn, especially to the lips and face. If you are hiking above tree line or in the snow consider sunscreen, sunglasses and hat. In winter months consider bringing along a small camp stove. This will make for a fun way enjoy a hot chocolate or coffee break along the trail, but serve as a valuable tool if you do end up getting stuck out overnight. You can consider an emergency blanket or small emergency sleeping bag. One of the most dangerous things in cold weather is exposure - be prepared to avoid that. And as always, bring some snacks! :)
Interested in a training opportunity to become certified in Wilderness First Aid?
Here are some upcoming training sessions with Tara:
Wilderness First Aid - Dickinson College March 22-23, 2024 (https://www.wildmed.com/course/wilderness-first-aid-630/)
Wilderness First Responder - (no prior med training needed)
Philadelphia Outward Bound School Feb 24–Mar 1, 2024 (https://www.wildmed.com/course/wilderness-first-responder-279/)
Princeton Blairstown Center March 17-23, 2024 (https://www.wildmed.com/course/wilderness-first-responder-273/)
Wilderness EMS Upgrade (for EMTs, Paramedics, RNs, PAs, NPs, MD/DO)
The Lancaster Conservancy February 15-19, 2024
Stay tuned to the www.wildmed.com website for even more offerings!
KTA plans to host a Wilderness First Aid course with Tara in the Spring 2024, so be sure you're signed up for our newsletter to get notified!
Keystone Trails Association