Stuck on Band-Aid

27 02 2012

Originally published November 30, 2009.

Poor Kenny.  For those who have never seen South Park, or who have been living in a cave on Mars with their eyes closed and their fingers in their ears for the last twelve years, Kenny McCormick is the unfortunate member of the South Park gang who, in nearly every episode in the first five seasons, dies a terrible death.  So, as I was saying, poor Kenny.

Kenny is a really unlucky little kid.  Kenny dies in just about every way imaginable.  He is electrocuted, crushed by a tree, torn apart by an angry mob, gored by a bull, eaten by fish…and so on and so on.  If there is a chance, however small, that someone could be injured while participating in any activity, Kenny will beat the odds and become the fatal statistic.

I’m glad I’m not as unlucky as Kenny, and I hope that you’re not either.   If you are, there’s not much that can be done about it.  But if you’re a little more average, it pays to take some precautions while engaged in activities that have a higher risk of injury than sitting around on your sofa watching South Park.

That brings us to Rule No. 6:

First Aid Kits Are Non-Negotiable.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again.  Bring a first aid kit when you hike and camp.  Bring it when you’re solo, bring it when you’re in a group, just bring it.  Bring it even when you think that the hike should be a piece of cake, especially if you’ve never done it before and don’t know from personal experience how easy it will be.  After all, we know what can happen when you set out on what you think is a “simple” hike in unknown territory.

I don’t want to hear any excuses out of you.  A while ago, I discussed what should go into a first-aid kit in some detail.  You don’t have to put much work into getting one together, however, because ready-made kits are available for your (inexpensive) purchase.  First aid kits come in all sizes (mine weighs half a pound) and so the minor extra weight is worth the vast benefits of carrying one.

You should also learn how to use your first aid kit.  Having one won’t help in an emergency if you’re sitting there trying to figure out what a lancet is or how to operate your snake-bite suction device.  Read the instructions in advance.  Buy a first aid manual and study it (they make compact ones that you can bring with you, and some ready-made kits actually come with them).  You can even take a first aid course.

At the end of the day, a first aid kit, and knowledge of how to use it, can help you avoid the fate that always, always, seemed to befall poor Kenny.  Those bastards.

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Stuck on Band-Aid

30 11 2009

Poor Kenny.  For those who have never seen South Park, or who have been living in a cave on Mars with their eyes closed and their fingers in their ears for the last twelve years, Kenny McCormick is the unfortunate member of the South Park gang who, in nearly every episode in the first five seasons, dies a terrible death.  So, as I was saying, poor Kenny.

Kenny is a really unlucky little kid.  Kenny dies in just about every way imaginable.  He is electrocuted, crushed by a tree, torn apart by an angry mob, gored by a bull, eaten by fish…and so on and so on.  If there is a chance, however small, that someone could be injured while participating in any activity, Kenny will beat the odds and become the fatal statistic.

I’m glad I’m not as unlucky as Kenny, and I hope that you’re not either.   If you are, there’s not much that can be done about it.  But if you’re a little more average, it pays to take some precautions while engaged in activities that have a higher risk of injury than sitting around on your sofa watching South Park.

That brings us to Rule No. 6:

First Aid Kits Are Non-Negotiable.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again.  Bring a first aid kit when you hike and camp.  Bring it when you’re solo, bring it when you’re in a group, just bring it.  Bring it even when you think that the hike should be a piece of cake, especially if you’ve never done it before and don’t know from personal experience how easy it will be.  After all, we know what can happen when you set out on what you think is a “simple” hike in unknown territory. 

I don’t want to hear any excuses out of you.  A while ago, I discussed what should go into a first-aid kit in some detail.  You don’t have to put much work into getting one together, however, because ready-made kits are available for your (inexpensive) purchase.  First aid kits come in all sizes (mine weighs half a pound) and so the minor extra weight is worth the vast benefits of carrying one.

You should also learn how to use your first aid kit.  Having one won’t help in an emergency if you’re sitting there trying to figure out what a lancet is or how to operate your snake-bite suction device.  Read the instructions in advance.  Buy a first aid manual and study it (they make compact ones that you can bring with you, and some ready-made kits actually come with them).  You can even take a first aid course.

At the end of the day, a first aid kit, and knowledge of how to use it, can help you avoid the fate that always, always, seemed to befall poor Kenny.  Those bastards.





It’s All Fun and Games Until Somebody Puts An Eye Out

30 09 2009

Nikki: You can’t do it that way.  You’re just measuring the difference between the temperature of your skin and his.  You need a thermometer.

Ava: I don’t think we have a thermometer.

Nikki: You don’t have a first aid kit?

–“And So the Day Begins,” Summerland

In an early episode of the short-lived WB series Summerland, the precocious thirteen-year-old Nikki Westerly, played by the adorable (and, apparently brilliant) Kay Panabaker, criticizes her new guardian — her carefree and childless aunt, played by Lori Loughlin — for her lack of parenting skills.  The sentiment, however, is one I’ve expressed on numerous occasions to casual hikers, and it’s especially important for solo hikers.

Seriously, you need a first aid kit.

You can make your own, or you can get a prepared kit at any outdoors store.  Mine is a prepared kit that I have modified, and it is ultra-light and compact (similar to this one).  It comes in its own little nylon bag, with an interior, waterproof plastic bag.  It measures approximately 5×7 inches, and lives at the bottom of my backpack.

It came with the following items:

  • Bandage materials, including sterile dressing kits, gauze, non-adhesive, adhesive and butterfly bandages
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antibiotic ointments and towelettes
  • Ibuprofen tablets
  • After-sting towelettes
  • Antihistamines
  • Splinter-picker forceps (which look kind of scary)
  • Moleskin pieces
  • Safety pins

Some kits have more items, such as cotton swabs, sterile gloves, first aid manuals, etc., and more of the items in the lightweight kits.  There are more comprehensive “survival” kits as well, with irrigation syringes and rehydration tablets, and some even come with other emergency items such as whistles or beacons.  There are even “women’s” kits, though the extra items in these seem to be lip balm, hand sanitizer, medication for menstrual cramps and tampons, which I find a little insulting (as if I couldn’t think of that myself if I didn’t buy a “women’s” kit).  While the truly comprehensive kits can be priced at $100 or more (and a more comprehensive kit might be wiser for longer backcountry trips), a lightweight basics kit should be fine for casual day-hikers.  The lightweight kits can be found for anywhere from $10-50, and the purchase is well worth it.

I like the prepared kit because everything comes in a neat little package.  Be sure to replace the medications when they expire, and to add anything to your kit that you think you might need out on the trail.

For example, I also carry extra moleskin (blisters can really hamper a good hike), an Ace bandage (because I’m prone to ankle sprains), and a snake bite kit.

The snake bite kit was a last minute addition before I took my road trip (my first solo hiking and camping expedition), and at the time I wasn’t sure it was necessary.  It comes in a little tube that doubles as a suction device, and contains a lance, a constriction device, topical povidone iodine, and emergency instructions.  I’ve never used it, but one day I came across this guy:

by joanarc4

by joanarc4

Let me tell you, I have never left that snake bite kit behind since.  On that particular hike (Kolob Arch, Zion National Park, UT) I wasn’t alone (and wasn’t the person crazy enough to get close and take the photo), but that kit was in my hand until our party moved on and left this rattlesnake to go about his business.

The important thing is tailoring your kit to your needs, and keeping it stocked with fresh materials.  This is one instance where a little preparation goes a long way.

And just think, I’ll never have to say to you, with a trademark Nikki Westerly sneer, “You don’t have a first aid kit?”

Note: This article in no way constitutes medical advice, and you should consult your doctor regarding specific medical conditions.

© Her Side of the Mountain, 2009.