BHealthy Blog

Staying Safe in the Great Outdoors

By Katie Skaggs, Pharmacy Resident, Baptist Health Medical Center-North Little Rock

It’s here! It’s finally here! The temperatures are up, the sun is out, the kids are out of school – it’s SUMMERTIME!

Summertime holds so many opportunities for fun, exercise, and fresh air, but with all those activities comes the opportunity for injury. This doesn’t mean we should avoid the fun, but we should plan ahead and be prepared in case something does go awry.

As part of that preparation, a first-aid travel kit is a good idea. Depending on your lifestyle, it might be a good idea to have multiple kits. For example, I have one larger kit that stays in my horse trailer at all times and another one in a smaller bag that I can take with me wherever I go.

There are some basic essentials that the American Red Cross recommends be in every first-aid kit. Gauze, tape, bandages, latex gloves, and triple antibiotic ointment are potential necessities for all activities. Some medications to keep on hand are aspirin, diphenhydramine (antihistamine), and your choice of ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen for pain.

Scissors, tweezers, a flashlight, and a thermometer are all tools that might come in handy. Keep at least one instant cold compress on hand. For mosquito bites, chiggers, and rashes, I recommend hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion –– whichever works best for you. If you are trained in using one, a CPR mask should be in your kit.

The following are some other items that can be very useful when accidents happen.

For those who plan to venture off the beaten path, I would recommend poison-ivy wash.  Washing with it soon after contact with the poisonous plant can remove the toxin from your skin and prevent a rash.

It is always a good idea to have a bottle of hand sanitizer available. Sunblock, bug spray, and a tube of lip balm with sunblock in it are essentials for a sunny day outdoors.

A turkey baster or bulb suction device can be used to flush out fresh wounds, and also pack saline wash to cleanse the wound. Some first-aid kits contain hydrogen peroxide, but remember only use this once to remove debris initially after injury; repetitive use kills healthy tissue.

A bottle of aloe vera will relieve the pain of a sunburn and promote healing. Keeping a roll of duct tape, just in case, can help fix (or patch) countless issues. And no kit is truly complete without an Ace bandage.

You also want to include things specific to you and those with you in your kit. This can include things like an EpiPen, a glucagon kit, and a small supply of any maintenance medications taken by those in your party. It has been recommended to keep a card handy with emergency contact information.

I hope this helps you as you prepare for your summer adventures! Keep plenty of fresh water on hand to stay hydrated, take breaks from the hot sun to avoid heat exhaustion, and apply sunscreen liberally. Stay aware of your surroundings. Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Have fun!

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