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Hiking safety tips for beginners: Essential items and clothing, first aid kit, and wound care

Whether you are an avid hiker or planning on starting to get into it, you must take precautions to be prepared for any situation you come across in the wilderness. Many new hikers forget this important essential item: a first aid kit. I will share things your hiking first aid kit must have and options for purchase. I will be listing a couple of items you should never forget to pack or have on when going hiking to prevent injury. In case of an injury, you should know some wound care must-knows to help heal well and quickly.

Essentials you need

  • Backpack: Take a small backpack or a fanny pack to carry your other items. This way you have your hands free in case you trip so you can catch yourself. 
  • Water bottle: Take plenty of water, especially for long hikes. You may be susceptible to dehydration from the exertion and from the heat so make sure to drink water on the hike.
  • Snacks: Having a quick snack like a granola bar is essential if you are on a long hike. You may need it to keep your energy up to complete your hike without any complications.
  • Bug spray: Bring an insect repellent to protect from mosquitos and ticks throughout your hike. At the end of your hike make sure to check yourself for ticks or any other harmful bugs. 

Protective clothing and sunscreen

  • Sunscreen: This is an absolute must whether it is sunny or cloudy. Sunscreen protects your skin from harmful UV rays. These rays can cause long-term problems like skin cancer, wrinkles, and discoloration on your skin.
  • Long sleeve: Long sleeves help protect your arms from UV rays as extra protection along with sunscreen. They can also protect you from scratches on thin paths with lots of plants. 
  • Leggings: Wearing leggings or pants instead of shorts can help protect your skin and legs from falling as well as sunburns. Of course, you should dress accordingly and with whatever makes you comfortable, but take these precautions when the weather allows for it.
  • Appropriate shoes: Your feet are very important to take care of. They are what get us around and help us hike so it is essential to wear the right type of shoe. Make sure to get sturdy and comfortable shoes to prevent an injury. Shoes must fit well or may lead to painful blisters throughout the hike. In case of serious injury, and the need for advanced wound care professionals, seek a foot and ankle specialist. 
  • Thick socks: Buy wool or synthetic-material socks that are thick to absorb the sweat if you are going on long hikes, or if it’s a hot day. The thickness of socks will also help prevent blisters on your feet.

First aid kit

You can get a pre-packed first aid kit or make one yourself. These are a few things you should add to a DIY first aid kit:

  • Moleskin
  • Bandaids
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Ibuprofen
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Insect sting treatment
  • First-aid instructions like cards or a mini booklet
  • Tweezers 
  • Medical tape and scissors
  • Nonlatex gloves
  • Poison ivy and poison oak treatment

This is a great option for purchase from amazon for wound care: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0747N5KDM?ref_=cm_sw_r_cp_ud_dp_MEDGDW56QS5CBGYWRB18

This kit includes bandages, a large and small gauze pad, antiseptic towelettes, emergency foil, and more. The kit says to prepare you for emergencies like Burns, heatstroke, shock, sprains/strains, severe bleeding, poisoning, electrical shock, a broken bone, or fracture. These could come in handy in with helping out another hiker you may come across who needs medical attention, and the blanket in case of an unexpected weather change. 

It has a clip so you can easily clip it to your backpack if you do not have space inside. It is waterproof so in case of rain, falling in a body of water, or water splashed on it, the items inside will not get ruined by the water.

Wound care

With your first aid kit, here are a few tips for avoiding further injury or infection when wounded on a hike. In case of a cut/scratch, the first step is to remove any dirt with water. The next step is to dry the wound with sterile gauze. After that, to further protect from infection, apply petroleum jelly or an antibiotic ointment while wearing Nonlatex gloves. It is important to add a good amount of either one of those to keep the cut moist which is found to fight infection more. Finally, bandage the area with a correct size bandage to make sure nothing gets inside of it. Continue re-checking the area to make sure it does not get full of blood. If it does, change the bandage, and continue changing it around every 12 hours. If any immobility, strange sensation, or the wound doesn’t heal, check with a professional.

For more advanced wound care that could not be done yourself, go to the Emergency room when possible.

Extra tips

  • Be cautious of where you are stepping, in case you come across a snake or poison oak on your trail.
  • Have a hiking buddy with you for more difficult trails to help each other in case of an emergency.
  • Research the hike before going and make sure it is a good level for your experience.
  • Be aware of wildlife and do not interact with wild animals.
  • Stay on the trail to avoid getting lost.
  • Be courteous to other hikers and step to the side on narrow paths.
  • Start your hike with reasonable timing to make it back to your car before dark or bring a flashlight and a self-defense tool like pepper spray just in case.

Always be cautious and prepared when going hiking, and research the hike and the weather before preparing for it. It is a great way to get outdoors more often and be in nature. I hope these tips help you feel prepared and comfortable on your next hike. Have fun on your adventures and stay safe!

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