First-aid kits critical to safe outdoor fun

Posted: Thursday, August 10, 2000

FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) -- When the bugs bite, a knife slips or an ankle turns, a prepared outdoorsman not only knows what to do, but also has the gear on hand to deal with it.

While the first order of business is to have a working knowledge of first aid, the next most important step is to have a functional outdoor first-aid kit on hand.

First-aid kits are standard in homes, offices and vehicles. But not many outdoorsmen have even a modest kit, let alone a well-stocked source of emergency supplies.

The best first-aid kit, however, won't help anyone who doesn't know how to use it.

Those who venture far from civilization should know some basic first-aid skills. Classes are offered at community colleges, through the local Red Cross and elsewhere.

Everyone should know cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, and rescue breathing as well as how to deal with such emergencies as burns and cuts. The majority of first-aid situations will be minor, but even a minor cut that gets infected can turn serious in a day or two.

In some situations, first-aid gear and the knowledge of how to use it correctly can prove to be a life saver.

It makes sense that the first thing a person should place in his or her kit is a pocket manual that covers a wide range of emergencies and the recommended treatments.

There are at least as many different well-stocked first-aid kits as there are outdoor activities. And some experts would argue that number needs to be expanded to match the number of outdoor enthusiasts. That would mean a first-aid kit customized to fit the person carrying it. That would mean no two kits should be exactly the same.

The most basic choice is whether a person wants to buy a commercially available kit that comes in its own container.

These sometimes are the easiest when getting started. They generally come with the basic first-aid gear needed for the most common types of injuries.

The second option is to build a custom kit, using whatever a person may have around the house and supplemented with supplies from a store.

Other times, a person will combine the two, buying a very basic kit from a store and then personalizing it to fit the individual's particular needs and activities.

A lone backpacker doesn't need the same kit that a family in a recreational vehicle does. As well, a boater and an elk hunter don't always have the same needs.

Size is one of the biggest differences between various kits. A smaller kit will be less inclusive, forcing a person to pare the list of items to the bare minimum.

But a kit that will be stashed under the seat of a boat, or in a truck or a car easily can include some larger items that a backpacking kit wouldn't contain.

Most outdoor enthusiasts would be wise to build a basic pack and then evaluate what's needed and remove or add items as conditions demand.

Building a custom kit for the truck, boat or camper is a good place to start. Begin with an old tackle box of fanny pack, gather the basic first-aid kit necessities, and then add personal items.

Consider personal medications, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

Also, don't forget your regular recreation partners.

If you regularly go afield with a person who has a known medical condition, check to see if there is anything that you should include.

And don't forget your pets. If you hunt, fish or hike with a dog, then check with your vet about what its needs might be.

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