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Camping and RVing are two excellent ways to unplug from the everyday stresses of urban life and reconnect with nature. Traveling gives you the opportunity to explore the world at your own pace, without the worries that come with complex city life.
Disconnecting from city life is not without its risks, however. Cities have emergency doctors working in fully-equipped hospitals. They have ambulances that can pick up a patient and deliver them to the hospital in mere minutes. In nature, you have to learn to do without these things.
Without access to proper medical care or dedicated expertise, even a minor medical incident can quickly get out of hand. Equipping yourself appropriately for the trip is incredibly important, especially if you plan on visiting remote and hard-to-find areas.
Prepare for Travel Hazards
Nature is sublime and beautiful, but it can also be dangerous. Camping outdoors comes with its share of hazards, and anyone who plans on traveling should be aware of them.
Temperate areas like forests and lakes can be home to poison ivy, ticks, and disease-carrying insects. Mountains are cold and come with the risk of slipping or coming face-to-face with a bear. Deserts are home to a wide variety of venomous animals, and the risk of heat stroke is constant.
But the highest number of injuries and fatalities in U.S. National Parks have to do with water. Bodies of water – even shallow ones – represent a drowning risk, especially if watersports and alcohol are combined. Motor vehicle crashes and falls/slips are among the next most frequent dangers.
Your emergency camping essentials list should include not only the best emergency camping accessories you can find but also a complete medical checklist. That means prescriptions, allergy information, and contact data for every traveler’s family doctor.
Medical information is one of the most important camping emergency checklist essentials you can have. First responders should know who to contact and what kinds of medications they can (or cannot) use if you or a travel partner are incapacitated.
First Aid Training Comes First
The first thing that travelers should do before embarking on any trip is take a first aid course. The Red Cross offers first aid training and certification almost everywhere on the planet. You can even take online courses that will teach you the basics of first aid, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and lifeguarding skills.
These skills are virtually guaranteed to come in handy at one point or another during your outdoor adventures. Hopefully, you’ll never have to set a broken bone with a kayak paddle, but you will almost certainly use your training to treat hiking blisters, insect bites, sunburns, and more – and if a serious emergency occurs, you’ll be able to respond appropriately.
Naturally, your ability to deliver first aid relies on the availability of a first aid kit. This is a purchase you won’t want to skimp on – get the most complete kit you can comfortably fit in your travel vehicle. A good kit should contain at least the following:
- There should be plenty of different shapes and sizes of bandage in your kit. Look for sterile gauze pads, wound closure strips, and medical adhesive tape. You can never have too many blister-relieving bandages.
- Creams and Ointments. Burn cream is a must-have for any outdoor cooking environment. In addition, you should have an antiseptic solution and relieving ointment for insect bites.
- Tools and Medications. Tweezers, scissors, and a splint are all extremely useful first aid tools to keep in your kit. You should also have a thermometer, a mini flashlight, and an irrigation syringe for washing wounds clean. There should be some aspirin and ibuprofen as well, along with throat lozenges to treat soreness.
Non-Environmental Dangers: Heart Attack and Stroke
Some health risks are just as likely to show up while camping as they are to show up at home or at work. Heart attacks and strokes make up one-third of all deaths in the United States, and they can happen anywhere.
People with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes are at higher risk of heart disease and stroke. Smokers are particularly vulnerable. If you are planning on camping with guests who have higher heart-related risks, you must take time to familiarize yourself with some of the tell-tale signs of heart attack and stroke.
Heart Attack Symptoms and Treatment
There are many different types of heart attack, and not all of them share the same symptoms. Be on the lookout for any of the following symptoms, knowing that only a few may be present at a time:
- Pain in the center of the chest.
- Cramping pain in the shoulder, arm, or back.
- Shortness of breath.
- Nausea, sweating, vomiting, or fainting.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- A sudden feeling of dread or “impending doom.”
Heart attack victims need emergency medical care. If a camping guest exhibits any of these symptoms, they need to get to an emergency room as fast as possible. You can delay the onset of the heart attack by administering aspirin, which may give you enough time for emergency services to arrive. Don’t let heart attack victims exert themselves – they must rest in a seated position or be carried.
Stroke Symptoms and Treatment
Strokes can occur without warning. They are usually characterized by paralysis and numbness in certain parts of the body. It’s especially common for one side of the body to be affected. Stroke victims often feel weakness in their arms or legs and may have difficulty walking or maintaining balance.
Some of the most evident symptoms of stroke include sudden facial contortions, difficulty comprehending and using language, and vision problems. To verify a stroke, ask your guest to smile, tell you their birthday, and raise their arms above their head. If they have trouble performing any of these simple tasks, it’s a sure sign of stroke.
If a camping guest starts exhibiting these symptoms, you need to act quickly and get them to an emergency room – you can’t treat a stroke on your own.
Always Be Prepared
Your first aid course will cover many of the things that this article introduces and more. The better prepared you are to handle eventual medical emergencies, the safer your trip will be. Don’t underestimate your ability to deliver life-saving treatment to someone in need – you could end up saving someone’s life.
Read More: 5 Tips to Elevate Your Camping Experience