How to Prepare Yourself
***Note: This article is in no way intended to serve as a primary first aid course, and is not a substitute for professional medical care in the event of accident or emergency.
The most important part of wilderness safety is your own skills and knowledge - it doesn't matter how wonderful your first aid kit is if you don't know how to use it properly. You may want to take a first aid or emergency response course prior to your trip to learn the basic principles of wilderness care. Wilderness first aid manuals are also a good way to familiarize yourself with what can happen out in the bush. And, of course, you'll want to make sure your first aid kit is properly stocked and easy to access in event of emergency.
Pack a cellular phone, but also know the location of the nearest landline telephone and ranger station in case the area in which you travel doesn't have service. Be sure to pack signaling equipment, such as hand mirrors or flares. In the event of an emergency, these items will make it much easier for rescue services to find your group.
Finally, leave a copy of your itinerary with a responsible person. Include such details as the make, model, and license plate number of your car or van, the weather you expect, supplies you're bringing, and when you plan to return.
How to Prepare Your Campers
Before you embark on your adventure, it's a good idea to check with the people in your group about pre-existing medical conditions and allergies they have which might require special medication or considerations. Ask each camper to make a list of medications they'll be taking, along with any known allergies they may have to food, medicine, insects, or environmental factors. Additionally, if your trip will be strenuous, make sure you and your campers are in good physical condition before setting out - you may want to schedule a few hikes of increasing length in the month leading up to your excursion.
How to Prepare Your Wilderness First Aid Kit
Getting a first aid kit started is the hardest part of putting one together, simply because it requires you to gather a lot of materials. Thankfully, however, you really only need to do it once - after that, it's a matter of simple upkeep. Many of the things you'll need can be found in your bathroom medicine cabinet, but if you're looking for a more convenient solution, many camping stores sell pre-stocked first aid kits which may fit your needs. For a backpacking trip, a typical kit might include:
- Aloe Vera Gel (1)
- Triple Antibiotic Ointment (5)
- Digestive Aid, such as Calcium Carbonate (2)
- Antihistamine, such as Diphenhydramine (2)
- Pain Reliever, such as Acetaminophen (10)
- Antiseptic Towelette (5)
- Sterile Gauze Pads (5)
- Sting Relief Medicated Pad (2)
- Wire Splint (1)
- Assorted Bandages (20)
- Assorted Moleskin Sheets (3)
- Wilderness First Aid Manual (1)
- Small Scissors (1)
- Tweezers (1)
- Pencil (1)
- Assorted Safety Pins (10)
- Ace Bandage (1)
- 1/2 in. Athletic Tape (1)
- Bandage Under-wraps / Stretch Gauze (2)
- Lighter / Waterproof Matches
- Sterile Gloves
These items can be kept in a small backpack, hip bag, or other suitable container. By putting together a proper first aid kit and preparing yourself and your campers for the trip ahead, you're sure to stay happy and safe while communing with nature in the service of the Lord.