When asking yourself why take a first aid kit, it's worth remembering that they are designed to be tool for providing quick fixes in the event of an accident or injury in the wilderness. It’s a bit like when you duct-tape your ripped trousers until you get home and can fix them properly – except instead of trousers, it’s someone’s body – possibly your own – that you’re temporarily patching up.
The idea of a first aid kit is to enable you to do just enough to keep things together while you’re out on the trails. Then you can get proper medical attention – or be magically cured by cake and sofa time – once you’re back in civilization.
Some of these first aid kit items can be life-saving, like antihistamine for example. They won’t fix the problem necessarily, but they might keep things at bay just long enough for rescue to arrive. Other items might be basically a fix in themselves.
No one wants to have to do first aid, but carrying the right kit with you is a good insurance policy whenever you hit the trails because attempting triage without the right equipment and supplies is much worse. We hope you can see the benefit of that. But equally, no one is asking you to pack a huge bag full of bandages, splints and an ECG machine. Absolutely not. The key to the first aid kit is balancing safety against practicalities – very much as you do in normal life.
The three main factors to consider when assembling your first aid kit are the type of injuries you might encounter, the likeliness of those injuries occurring and how remote you are intending to go on the trails. Follow these steps and you’ll be able to put together the perfect first aid kit for your activity.
- Camping checklist: tick this list off before you go camping
- Hiking essentials: everything you need for a successful hike
Types of injury
For people of a nervous disposition – or who like writing risk assessments – this will be very easy to think through. Given the type of activity you’re doing, what sorts of things might go wrong? This should include anything and everything, from breaks and sprains to bee stings and mild indigestion. Of course, for the purposes of a first aid kit, you only need to consider fixable injuries. Being eaten by a crocodile or abducted by aliens are off the list.
Likeliness of injury
Next up, go through your list and consider how likely you are to encounter each one. You don’t have to give them ratings out of ten or anything so specific. Just get a vague idea of how common injuries are in your chosen activity. For example, breaks and sprains are probably more likely in trail running or fast-moving activities. Cuts are more likely when rock or scrambling is involved, blisters for hiking long distances – and so on. It’s not an exact science but just get a feel.
Finally, you can work out which of these injuries you feel you need to pack prevention for based on how remote you will be going. For example, if you are going for a trail run only a couple of hours from your home, you might not feel the need to take much by way of a first aid kit – you can probably hobble back home regardless, or get help. On the other hand, if you are going on a long-distance wilderness hike, your first aid kit will be more extensive. Plus in countries where medical aid is sparse, you might choose to take even more first aid provisions with you.
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