Accidents do happen while hiking, which is far safer than off-roading on an ATV or scaling cliff walls while rock climbing or canyoneering. These incidents are, for the most part, trivial. Rolling ankles, scraped knees, and bug bites might be uncomfortable, but they won't ruin your vacation if you know how to treat them on the trail. However, in order to effectively cure them, you'll need to have a few items on hand. Continue reading to find out what every DIY first aid kit should include.
- Wipes with Antiseptic Properties. A minor scratch from a spiky cactus or a close contact with a stony surface may appear to be harmless. It might bleed a little, but if you're like most hikers, you'll wipe it away and keep going. And if you're only going for a day hike and will be back in civilization in time to clean the wound, you'll be OK. But if you stay on the path for too long, even the smallest cut might pose a serious threat. Bacteria can be carried by dirt and other particles in your cut. If the bacterium is not removed, an infection may develop. An infection can begin in as little as one to three days. If left untreated, the infection can be fatal. Antiseptic wipes are essential for cleaning and disinfecting cuts and scrapes in the absence of clean flowing water and soap. Alcohol-based wipes are useful, while BZK-based (benzalkonium) wipes are superior.
- Ointment Antibacterial. After washing the wound with wipes, the antibacterial ointment is a perfect second step for longer excursions. This ointment not only prevents infections but also speeds up healing.
- Various sizes of adhesive bandages. Adhesive bandages are something that most hikers keep in their DIY first aid kit. These bandages can be used to treat wounds, scrapes, bug bites, blisters, and other minor injuries. They're simple to apply and change, inexpensive, and tiny enough to fit in your pack. They keep your cuts closed, avoiding dirt and debris from entering the wound. But don't get a one-size-fits-all box. Pack a wide range of forms and sizes to accommodate any type of injury. Waterproof bandages will stay on even in the face of sweat, rain, and creek crossings. When a cut occurs, resist the impulse to cover it with a bandage and deal with it later. When you're busy admiring breathtaking scenery of the back country, it's easy to overlook a nasty cut. Take a few moments to clean the cut before bandaging it. Bandages in various sizes are ideal for small wounds, scrapes, and bites. However, if you have a larger wound that bleeds profusely or may require stitches, you'll need a different type of bandage, for these we suggest a butterfly bandage. Butterfly bandages, also known as adhesive wound-closure strips, are intended to reattach the skin. This prevents further tugging on the wound, which frequently leads to further bleeding.
- Medical tape and gauze pads. If you don't have a bandage large enough to cover your cut, keep this next item in your first-aid kit. Larger open wounds can be covered using gauze pads. Fold a piece to the required size and tape it in place—after cleaning the wound, of course. Gauze pads can also be used to remove blood from wounds. They are far superior to using a bandana or a shirt, which may introduce bacteria into the wound.
- Small splinters are not life-threatening, but they can surely ruin your hike. A pair of tweezers won't take up much room in your suitcase or contribute much weight. But you'll be glad you recalled them when you receive a tiny, painful splinter in your hand, foot, or elsewhere.
It's time to start packing your DIY first aid kit now that you know what should be included. Remember to keep your supplies in a waterproof bag to keep them safe from weather or creek crossings. Before you hit the trail, go through your first aid manual and consider taking a course, either online or in person, to ensure you know how to treat common hiking injuries so they don't put an end to your adventure!