To have a successful hike, we must come home safely, be reasonably comfortable, and have loads of fun. However, often there are hiking injuries that can occur while on the trail that require basic first aid.
Probably the most common hiking injury are blisters on the feet. The key to preventing blisters is to eliminate friction. Boots should be well broken in and you need to insure that your socks are as dry as possible throughout the hike. This may mean bringing along several pairs of socks to change on your hiking trip. Another effective method in reducing friction is to use petroleum jelly on the hot spot, or using foot powder in the sock to keep it dry. Wearing 2 layers of socks often helps, utilizing the lighter sock next to the skin followed by the heavier sock over top. Wool socks are the best. Blister treatment varies based upon whether it has broken or not. Small blisters that are not open should be left alone, while larger more painful ones should be broken with a sterile needle and drained. Once a blister has broken it should be cleaned, disinfected then bandaged. After few days the skin under the blister will heal and you can remove the remaining dead skin.
Sprains and fractures are next on the injury list. These can be very serious problems, especially if your hiking trip is in a remote area. Immobilization and elevation are essential for treatment of an injured leg or ankle. A splint should be applied if a fracture is suspected. A sling can be helpful in cases of arm or shoulder injury. You may need to improvise with crutches and slings from the materials you can locate along the trail.
Lacerations frequently occur on the hiking trail. If the wound is minor, a bandage can be used to reduce the possibility of infection. If there is a large amount of bleeding occurring the injured area should be elevated, a clean cloth or bandage needs to be placed directly on the injured site and continuous pressure should be applied until the bleeding stops. Obviously if stitches are required, seek proper medical attention asap. Eye injuries from low branches or twigs is another common injury. If it is no more than an irritation you can apply a cold compress, however if it is persistently painful or affects the vision it may require specialized care; apply cold compress, patch the eye with a clean cloth and head to the emergency room.
On occasion the injured person may not be able to proceed on the trail. This may necessitate spending more time, even days, on the trail, prior to help arriving. The patient must be made as comfortable as possible, insuring warmth to prevent hypothermia. Continue to replenish fluids and nourishment.
When setting out on a hike, whether it be on a day hike or a multi-day hiking adventure, It pays to be prepared. This means having equipment and clothing appropriate for the weather conditions that you may encounter. Pack your equipment and clothing wisely and you are sure to have an enjoyable adventure. Arizona Hiking Adventures insures all of our guides have advanced first aid training to insure your safety throughout your hiking trip in Arizona, or wherever we are traveling.