Hiking is enjoyable. But things would go awry if accidents would take place.
Of course, we are oriented to do preventive measures against injuries. However, accidents are inevitable, regardless of how careful they are. Hikes always involve a certain degree of risk, even if you are in familiar, well-established terrain.
Therefore, you should be knowledgeable on how to respond to these situations. Being able to treat injuries while hiking is among the skills that you should learn. It becomes more pivotal if you are hiking alone. Identifying injuries and providing appropriate relief or treatment could indicate your survival.
Common Hiking Injuries And How To Treat Them
As mentioned, you can encounter various injuries while hiking. It is essential that you are aware of these potential threats while you are still not on the hike. Of course, you should learn to treat them, as well.
Cuts And Wounds
Outdoor enthusiasts are not strangers to cuts. When hiking, there's a big chance that you will encounter these injuries. Wounds aren't lethal. But they can cause surprising amounts of pain and discomfort.
The way to prevent wounds is to be careful in your movements while hiking. Always be wary of your surroundings. Watch out for sharp objects, such as tree branches, grasses, and rocks.
Always make a conscious effort to check where you are stepping. In this way, you will prevent yourself from stumbling or falling on the ground. If possible, try your best not to crawl; otherwise, you will eventually get cuts in different parts of your body.
Treating cuts is quite easy. You simply have to disinfect them and wrap bandages around them.
If the wound is big, you might need to get a tourniquet to keep it from bleeding. Shirts or other clothing can be used as a tourniquet. Tie them above the cut as tightly as possible. It would also be best if you could write down the time you apply the tie. It is a piece of helpful information for medical staff.
Hiking involves the movement of your lower body. Hence, it is quite common for hikers to sprain their legs and ankle.
Preventing sprains is pretty doable. One way of doing this is by wearing the correct hiking boots. When I say correct, I refer to hiking boots that provide optimal ankle support.
When hiking, always pay attention to the ground, you are stepping on. Be cautious when traversing on uneven surfaces.
You can also use hiking poles because of the stability they provide while you are traversing difficult terrains.
Don't wear trail runners and sneakers, especially if the trail is difficult to take.
Sprains can happen to hikers, regardless of the level of care they exert on the trip. Fortunately, there are various ways you can treat it. The best way is by following the RICE protocol.
Rest - If you are sprained, stop the hike. Look for a place where you can rest your ankle. Make sure that you unload your pack or any objects you are carrying.
Ice - Of course, you can't find ice while you are hiking. As an alternative, try using packed snow. If it is not available, dip your ankle in cold water. You can also drench a used shirt and wrap it to your ankle.
Compression - You also need to compress the affected part using a shirt or elastic bandage. While doing so, ensure that the blood circulation in the area isn't affected.
Elevation - You should elevate the ankle at least above the heart level.
Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause sunburn. And since you are hiking, it is expected that you are going to have some degree of interaction with sunlight. In many cases, sunburn can be irritating and painful.
Make sure that you have sunblock with a minimum of 25 SPF when hiking in daylight. It should be able to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
Don't forget to wear a cap or hat. Make sure that you prevent the sunlight from directly hitting your head.
Wear the appropriate clothing so that you can cover some of your skin and prevent them from being burnt.
Take a shed as well, especially if the heat is already becoming unbearable.
You can treat sunburns by applying wet clothing or an ice pack in the affected areas.
After-sun treatments, such as aloe vera, can also cool your skin and prevent the latter from peeling and drying.
When it comes to hiking, blisters can be a common occurrence. After all, you keep on grinding your feet on a hike; hence, there's a big probability that your skin and footwear will rub against each other.
You can prevent blisters by wearing appropriate socks. The socks you wear should not slip while you are hiking.
Use a pair of hiking boots or shoes that fit well on your feet. They should be tight enough so that they don't move around while you are moving. Of course, don't make them too tight; otherwise, you will feel discomfort.
Make sure that the footwear has been properly broken in, especially if it is made from leather. In this way, the footwear can stretch well with your foot. It prevents unnecessary injuries.
Another thing that you should do to prevent blisters is to keep your feet dry. If the weather is wet, then it is advisable that you have spare socks with you.
If you suffer from blisters, the best thing that you should do is treat them immediately. The faster you can do this, the less discomfort you will feel.
Use a sterilized needle to pinch and drain the blister. After that, apply disinfectant to the affected area and wrap it with bandages to reduce the chances of infection.
It pays that you bring sterilized needles if you are expecting blisters. Using unsterilized objects to drain the blister would eventually cause infection.
Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition. It is also considered a hiking injury. Hiking in winter or on cold terrains can make you susceptible to this particular hiking injury.
At this point, you should realize that prevention is highly essential for hypothermia. The treatment process could lead to irreversible results. Many who have experienced hypothermia said that it is extremely harrowing.
Preventing hypothermia is about planning your hike. Make sure that you know what to do once you are there. Plan where you should stop and what you should do once the elements start kicking in.
Wear the appropriate clothing and get the essential equipment.
Try your best to remain dry all the time.
Ensure that your backpack and its contents are dry.
Bring spare clothing, emergency shelters, and other cold-weather survival amenities such as a space blanket.
Make sure that you have a bottle of warm beverages.
Wear high-visibility clothing; they can help rescuers find you easily.
Hypothermia treatment requires the immediate identification of the symptoms. Always check symptoms, such as fumbling, grumbling, mumbling, and stumbling. They are tell-tale signs that your body is experiencing extreme colds.
If the person doesn't shiver anymore, it is a dangerous sign that their body is no longer operating. You should call rescue in this situation.
Remove the wet clothing of the person and change it with the dry ones. Put them into the space blanket or sleeping bag so that they can regain warmth.
Make them drink hot beverages.
If the victim is losing consciousness, you should do your best to provide warmth to them. Here, survival isn't really guaranteed.
If there's hypothermia, there's also hyperthermia. Hyperthermia is technically the opposite of hypothermia. Specifically, this happens when your body heat has increased abnormally due to exposure to extremely hot conditions.
One way of preventing hyperthermia is by drinking lots of water, especially if the temperature is hot.
When hiking, make sure that you are wearing a hat that defends your head from the sunlight.
Use sunscreen, as well. This helps in reducing the other symptoms of exposure to direct sunlight.
Look for shaded areas where you can rest. Don't continue hiking if the heat is too much.
Wear properly ventilated clothes. Layers that have moisture-wicking properties can help in regulating body temperature.
Drink lots of water.
Similar to hypothermia, treating hyperthermia requires identifying its symptoms as early as possible. It has three stages; the last stage is the harshest. Early symptoms typically range from discomforts and muscle cramping. However, these cramps won't be done unless you can't return your body temperature to normal. Once exhaustion kicks in, you have entered the first stage of hyperthermia. This is where things get dangerous, as you are getting more prone to heat stroke.
Once sweating stops, it is time that you call rescue. It is a sign that your body has reached abnormal heat levels. This is the point where stroke can be imminent.
Make sure that you get medical help before a person becomes unconscious.
By learning appropriate treatment, you will be able to handle different injuries that you could encounter while you are hiking. Of course, at this point, it is essential that you have the basic first-aid skills at your disposal. At the same time, packing a first aid kit would really be beneficial.