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first aid kits for camping and hiking


  • a basic first aid kit should be carried by most hikers
  • a more extensive one can be carried in your car
  • whilst you can buy an off-the-shelf kit, you probably should think a bit more logically and strategically about what is really needed for your likely needs
  • Failing to plan is planning to fail
  • Prevention is better than cure - don't take unnecessary risks and take care
    • prevent blisters or chafing developing - manage early!
    • don't chase snakes and avoid running where track vision is limited, consider long gaiters!
    • wear snow goggles to prevent very painful UV burns to eyes which will impair vision until they subside
    • even minor scratches, abrasions or blisters can lead to severe life threatening infections if there is delay to care of several days - wounds should be cleaned as soon as possible and any foreign matter removed if practable and reasonable
    • avoid washing/bathing open wounds in rivers or the sea unless boiled or sterile water is not available
      • despite popular opinion the sea and rivers are teaming with bacteria - many resistant to usual antibiotics
      • that said, if there is no sterile or potable water available, then irrigation of a dirty wound with river or seawater is probably much better than leaving it dirty

Minimum components of a first aid kit

  • as a minimum you should carry:
    • your essential medications
      • for diabetics this is your insulin, blood glucose tester, source of oral glucose, etc
      • for asthmatics, this is your inhalers and a course of prednisolone
      • for those with past history of anaphylaxis, you should have a EpiPen
      • for those with migraines, consider your anti-migraine meds
      • analgesics such as paracetamol and ibuprofen
    • a 10-15cm elasticated bandage(s) for snakebites
      • whilst uncommon, these can be very unexpected and a bandage could be lifesaving until you get help
    • an aspirin in case of unexpected heart attacks if you are older than 35
      • uncommon but unpredictable
      • taking an aspirin early significantly improved outcomes
    • a couple of triangular bandages with large safety pins
      • can be used as a sling for an injured arm or collarbone
      • can be used to splint an unstable fractured limb to a stick or similar
      • can be used to compress a bleeding wound in conjunction with combine or similar
    • cotton buds to remove dust or other foreign bodies from eyes or under the eyelids
    • scizzors
    • tweezers/forceps to remove splinters, etc
    • bandaids or similar for small lacerations or wounds
    • sterile dressings for open wounds
    • adhesive tape to keep bandages in place and can be used to splint broken fingers, etc
    • space blanket

For longer trips, consider adding the following

  • First Aid manual
  • blister care dressings
  • open wound / laceration repair kit such as:
    • sterile saline
    • sterile forceps to avoid contaminating the gauze with fingers
    • gauze to dry the wound and also some to cover it
    • skin glue (supaglue will do if you are stuck - but it must be applied to the OUTSIDE of a dried, closed wound)
    • steristrips
  • additional bandages
    • 7.5-10cm wide is most useful
  • burn management gear
    • BurnShield or cling film
  • surgical gloves - preferably sterile
  • paper clip or similar can be used heated by a flame to melt a hole in a nail to release the painful, pulsating pressure of blood under the nail
  • EpiPen even if no one in group has known allergies
  • antibiotics to treat skin infections if there will be delay of some days getting to medical help
  • dental repair kit to manage unexpected broken teeth (dentists are hard to find on weekends let alone in in rural areas) from biting down on those hike nuts or from a fall
    • eg. Dentafix temporary dental filling

Extra gear for Medicos to consider

  • sphygmomanometer
  • stethoscope
  • oxygen saturation finger probe
  • digital thermometer
  • blood glucose tester
  • urine test kit including pregnancy test (abdominal pain in a female hiker could be pregnancy related)
  • source of oral glucose
  • suture pack with sutures, antiseptic solution, sterile saline, needle holder, etc
  • scalpel to lance boils, etc
  • splinter removal forcep
  • aluminium padded splint
  • bag valve mask (BVM), Guedel airways
  • needle and valve for tension pneumothorax
  • nasal pack for severe epistaxis
  • topical steroid cream / antihistamines for contact allergies
  • Doctor's bag medications:
    • epinephrine or Epipen
    • stronger analgesics - oxycodone, Penthrane, etc
    • prednisolone for asthma, croup, etc
    • salbutamol inhalers with spacer
    • antiemetic such as ondansetron
    • aspirin
    • antihypertensive such as a ACEI
    • laxatives?
    • additional antibiotics:
      • cefalexin for most skin infections, UTIs, etc
      • augmentin
      • metronidazole suppositories - can be used with augmentin or cefalexin to conservatively manage appendicitis if there is delay to care
  • special gear for high altitude hikes over 2500m such as bottled oxygen, acetazolamide, dexamethasone, nifedipine, salbutamol inhalers,
australia/firstaid.txt · Last modified: 2022/07/14 12:36 by gary1

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