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First-Aid Tips and Tricks Every Beginning Hiker Should Be Familiar With

First-Aid Tips and Tricks Every Beginning Hiker Should Be Familiar With

First-Aid Tips and Tricks Every Beginning Hiker Should Be Familiar With

As safe as hiking can generally be if you're responsible, well-prepared, and well-equipped — minor injuries can always get in your way. From blisters to sprained ankles, from cuts and insect bites to chafing and muscle cramps, no doubt knowing how to cope will make the remainder of your hike much less unpleasant. These first-aid tips and tricks might be basic, but they’re also essential — so we hope that, if you’re new to hiking, they’ll help you out.


What Should a Hiker’s First-Aid Kit Contain?

Whether you buy one of the many nifty ready-made first-aid kits for hikers, or you choose to build your own, hikers’ first-aid kits should ideally be packed full of the exact things that you’re most likely to need. High on the list are:

  • Tweezers, blunt-tipped scissors, a small mirror (to get a better look at your own minor injuries in places like your feet), surgical gloves, and hand sanitizer are all basics that'll allow you to perform first aid — but the trusty multi-tool you should also carry as a hiker can, when sanitized, be truly multifunctional in a first-aid context too.

  • Your pocket-sized medicine cabinet should contain painkillers like ibuprofen (which also fights inflammation), iodine to disinfect minor wounds, antibiotic cream, antacids, anti-histamines, diarrhea relief, rehydration tablets, and ointment for burns. Any medication you routinely use or might need because of preexisting conditions should also be included. Folks who are allergic to bee stings need to carry Epi-pens, for instance.

  • Gauze, band-aids, adhesive sutures, athletic tape (which has many uses, including for sprains), moleskin, butterfly bandages, and ordinary safety pins.

Your general self-care kit should, meanwhile, contain both sunscreen and bug repellent.


How to Deal with Common Hiking Emergencies

At the first sign of blister formation, apply some athletic tape and moleskin. While it's best not to pop blisters before they're ready to burst, make sure you sterilize the tool you use for the purpose (like a safety pin) first. Because well-fitting hiking shoes and proper socks go a long way toward preventing blisters, it's crucial to prepare in advance, though!

Leg and foot cramps often tell you that you haven’t been hydrating quite as well as you thought, so replenish your fluid and electrolytes, and then do some stretching exercises.

Sprained ankles need rest, cold packs (cold streams can help, too), and compression — which athletic tape will help enormously. Bonus points if you already had trekking poles on your hike. Otherwise, the person with the sprained ankle may need support from other hikers to make it back without causing further injury.

Minor cuts and scrapes can be treated with a layer of antibiotic ointment and then patched up with a band-aid. Chafing is, unfortunately, not as easy to deal with as more prominent areas of your skin might be affected. Body Glide anti-chafe products can, on the other hand, help you prevent this painful problem.

If you suddenly find yourself with an upset stomach, it's essential to focus on drinking enough water. The Imodium you packed in your first-aid kit will give your body more time to absorb that H2O.

Because these core tips form no more than the tip of the hikers' first-aid iceberg, regular hikers should strongly consider signing up for a first-aid course that will help them brave most of the mishaps they may encounter.

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