Camping and the outdoors with kids can be perfect and magical... but as we all know active wild kids also get tummy aches, sprained ankles, and cuts. The parenting and first aid treatment doesn’t stop just because you are in the outdoors. If anything, it amplifies.
Some of it is the obvious like Band-Aid, but if you have ever been on a road trip with one child with diarrhea and another barfing. Then you KNOW that Pepto is so important. YIKES.
It’s also important to know how to manage any issues that come up and to recognize when its an emergency. This is especially important when you may be remote and off grid adventuring. Please note I am NOT an expert. Just a mama who loves the outdoors. If you have any doubts or questions seek medical help!!!!
PREVENTION OVER TREATMENT
In outdoor medicine prevention and preparation are key. Plan for the weather and layer accordingly, pack and know how to use your first aid kits, know your environment get CPR & BLS Certified, take a first aid course. So that when unavoidable issues arise you are ready or at least able to help prevent the worst-case scenario. Protection from the elements is so important. Think: Lightweight layered clothing, hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray. Appropriate weather gear. Bringing enough water and food can be critical. Plan fully for your excursions and the environment you will be in.
ABC’s (Airway, Breathing and Circulation) This will be the first thing you check in the event of Medical or Trauma Incident. Taking vitals enables you to be able to measure changes in the condition over time. Monitoring and recording these changes is extremely important.
In general, children have a higher respiratory rate (more breaths per minute) and heart rate (more beats per minute) than adults do.
Average Healthy Vital ranges for each age:
<1 : Heart Rate 115-130; Respiratory Rate 20-40
2-6 Years : Heart Rate 80-115; Respiratory Rate 20-30
6-10 Years : Heart Rate 85-100; Respiratory Rate 20-25
10-18 Years : Heart Rate 70-80; Respiratory Rate 15-20
Adults : Heart Rate 60-100; Respiratory Rate 12-20
Bites and stings happen frequently. Typical treatment includes:
· Checking the scene safety (You aren’t much help if you get bit too)
· If severe blood loss, stopping the bleeding
· Clean the wound
· Do not pick up or capture creatures
· Check places you will be reaching or stepping into prior
· Keep your tent zipped
· Look in boots or shoes before putting them on
· Use bug repellents
With most spider bites there is little to be done. Apply cold to reduce pain, keep wound clean. Things to watch for in the case of more serious bites: Blisters, rash fever, & chills
Treatment should be to cool the sting. This allows the body to more easily break down the venom. It also reduces pain. Ice, running water or a wet compress work. Keep patient calm and still. Panic can speed up the venom’s spread.
Quick removal in necessary. Regularly do tick checks to assist in this. Check hard to see areas and in your hair. Once you have discovered a tick:
Use tweezers, grasp the tick close to your skin and pull straight back gently. Do not twist or squeeze the tick to avoid leaving parts of the tick embedded. After removal clean the area with alcohol, Neosporin or soap and water.
Prevention is the best option. For treatment you can apply an ice-pack to minimize swelling and itchiness if you get it in the first few minutes. You can treat with a topical anti itch cream. If more serious reactions occur antihistamines like Benadryl can be used. Follow directions on the label.
Snake Bites are scary. There are really two types to be concerned with. Pit Vipers and Coral Snakes. If you are a bitten attempt to identify the creature. If you can safely do so with out further risk to you or others.
Not all pit vipers have rattles, but they all have distinctive triangular heads, heat sensitive pits between eyes and nostrils.
Treatment: Calm and reassure patient. Patient needs to rest with the bitten extremity approximately at heart level. Remove rings, watches anything that may reduce circulation if swelling occurs. Wash wound with soap and water. Keep hydrated and evacuate immediately for medical help.
· Cut or suck venom
· Apply Ice or immerse in water
· Apply tourniquet
Brightly banded in red, yellow, and black all coral snakes are described by particular sequence. “Red on black, venom lack; red on yellow, kill a fellow” In other words red banded by yellow bands are dangerous. Corals snakes have small mouths and short fangs and can only bite smaller surfaces like fingers, toes, or a fold in skin.
Treatment: Remove snake if still attached. Keep patient calm, clean the wound with soap and water. Evacuate. The venom can take up to 12 hours before patient may recognize they need assistance. SO early evacuation is recommended, patient may walk out.
POISON IVY, OAK AND SUMAC
These grow in nearly every state, except Alaska and Hawaii. Learn to identify them. Remember: Leaves of three let them be. Not everyone reacts the same. However streaky redness typically appears, where ever the plant oil rubbed against the skin. There may be swelling and blisters.
There is not a cure but you can treat the symptoms with oral (Benadryl) or topical antihistamines (calamine) Wet compresses, cold or warm can also bring relief. After exposure wash affected area with soap and water. Be conscious of any clothing that also may be affected to avoid re-exposure.
If there is significant swelling in the airway, face or genitals, seek medical treatment.
Dehydration is when more water is going out of your body than you are putting back in. Dehydration occurs when the body can no longer function normally due to this loss. In the outdoors dehydration is also the most common cause of headaches. It’s important to hydrate while out in the elements. The human body can only absorb so much water at a time. Your body at MOST, can absorb about one liter (approx. 34 fluid ounces) of water per hour, but only in the most extreme heat and humidity. Drinking approx. .25 liter or 8 ounces every 15 minutes during physical activities will help your body meet your hydration needs.
Dehydration can be classified in three levels:
· Mild- Dry chapped lips & dry mouth, Dark Urine, Mildly thirsty- Normal Pulse
· Moderate- Very dry Chapped lips & dry mouth, Darker Urine, Thirsty- Rapid, weak pulse
· Severe- Extremely dry lips, mouth, no tears or urine. Pale, rapid breathes, Drowsy, lethargic, disoriented- Rapid weak pulse
Heat exhaustion is a condition whose symptoms may include heavy sweating and a rapid pulse, a result of your body overheating. Causes of heat exhaustion include exposure to high temperatures, particularly when combined with high humidity, and strenuous physical activity. Without prompt treatment, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition. Fortunately, heat exhaustion is preventable. Heat Exhaustion should be treated immediately as it can lead to severe dehydration or Heat stroke.
Signs and Symptoms:
· Increased heart rate
· Increased respiratory rate
· Cool moist skin with goosebumps
Treatment: Change the environment. Remove patient from hot to cool (IE: moving to shade, fanning, pouring water on them. Re-hydrate. Drink 32 oz of water over an hour, while resting.
Heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heatstroke, can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher. The condition is most common in the summer months.
Heatstroke requires emergency treatment. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.
Signs and Symptoms
· Altered level of consciousness
· Increased heart rate
· Increased respiratory rate
· Hot, red skin
· Loss of coordination
Rapid cooling is essential to save the patient’s life. Change environment, remove clothing, keep patient wet while continuously fanning. With impaired mental status forcing liquids is not recommended. Heat stroke patients need immediate medical care and evacuation is necessary.
The best treatment for all suspected fractures is the same: H-RICES (Hydration, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Splinting) Remember to check for circulation, sensation and motion (CSM) before and after the splinting and continue to monitor. If CSM changes you may need to adjust the splint or move bandages to allow blood flow.
A splint is a piece of medical equipment used to keep an injured body part from moving and to protect it from any further damage. Splinting is used to stabilize a broken bone while the injured person is taken to the hospital for more advanced treatment.
It is handy to carry a SAM Splint, elastic wraps and some triangle bandages in your first aid kit. However, you can use anything from a stick, or paddle and a sweatshirt to splint. Be creative with what you have!
A splint should have plenty of padding and be attached to something rigid to immobilize and support, In the outdoors you can use clothing, bandannas, whatever you have on hand. The padding should be thick enough to avoid shifting- Avoid the voids -but not overly bulky. The splint should immobilize the joints or bones above and below the injury.
After you have immobilized and splinted if necessary, you can provide an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
Stopping blood flow, Cleaning, closing wound
The most immediate concern is not the quantity of blood lost but the rate at which it is lost. Severe blood loss takes precedence over any other issue’s the patient may have. Remember wash your hands and to protect yourself and wear gloves-If it’s not yours don’t touch it!
Control the bleeding:
· Direct Pressure- Pressure should be applied directly to the wound with your hand and a dry sterile absorbent dressing. If the wound is larger than your hand pack the wound with absorbent materials before applying pressure.
· Elevate- Elevate the wound above the heart to slow the flow of blood and encourage clotting.
· Pressure Bandage- If bleeding persists, apply a bulky dressing that applies pressure. Gauze and elastic bandaging or a cloth strip are ideal. It should not be tight enough to cut off blood flow.
· Tourniquet- Tourniquets are rarely needed and can be dangerous as it interrupts the blood flow to the extremity. Use these only when all else has failed. Use a wide band and tie it tightly. Use a stick or anything rigid to twist and tighten the band and use another band to tie into place. It is extremely important to write the time you applied the tourniquet down. Evacuate to medical professionals and inform them of the tourniquet location and time of placement.
Cleaning the wound
Preventing infection is critical. Do not put rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or soaps directly into the wound. They will damage viable tissues. They should be used to clean around the wound only.
Irrigating is the most efficient method of cleaning a wound and preventing infection. You need a high-pressure syringe filled with water or saline. Hold tip 1-2 inches from injury and flush the wound several times using about a half liter (approx. 16 oz.) of water or saline. Tilt injury at an angle irrigating the contaminants out and away from wound.
Debriding is used when deeply embedded and visible debris is not removed via irrigation. Sterile tweezers or forceps can be used to remove debris. Tweezers can be sterilized by boiling or with an open flame. After debris is removed irrigate again to ensure all contaminants are removed.
Bandaging or Closing the wound
If cut is a laceration or gapes, use butterfly strips or skin closure strips. Super glue can be used for smaller cuts but is not recommended for large wounds. Apply strips perpendicular to wound applying on once side then the other pulling wound closed. You may cover it with a micro thin film covering to protect and easily monitor healing.
If the injury is not a gape or laceration, you may bandage with absorbent dressing and any form and bandaging at your disposal.
It’s important to have a well-stocked first-aid kit, but more important to know how to use it. When you are remote and off grid, help can be several hours away. If you take your kids into remote places on a regular basis for extended adventures, it’s smart to get training from professionals. There are courses you can take, Basic First Aid, CPR & BLS. Wilderness First Aid as well as Wilderness First Responder. Taking one of these courses will help give you the knowledge you need to take care of your family in the outdoors.