First aid kit. Without it someone could die.

“Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.”

Sir Winston Churchill
A first aid kit is a very important item to carry in your backpack or day pack. Walking on flat sidewalks is very different than on steep trails. Rocks, roots, holes, wasp and bee stings, falling rocks, burns, sunburns, cuts and any one of a thousand hazards are lurking on and off the trails.

A knowledge of basic first aid is critical to anyone who ventures off the beaten track. Getting hurt is so easy. For instance, campfires cause a lot of accidents. Tiny backpacker stoves may tip over and scald someone. We carry a first aid book in our backpack.

First and most importantly, every hiker should carry a first aid kit. That way, if for some reason or other a backpack is lost, someone will still have one.

How do you lose a backpack? It’s easy. Two of my fellow hikers were on a five day hike in Northern Cape Breton Island. One day we assumed we were further along in our hike than we actually were. We began our descent down into a canyon. It was very steep and we slid on our backsides from bush to bush. We were holding our packs in the crooks of our elbows. Suddenly we were confronted by a vertical drop off. One of my friends had no choice but to let his backpack go or risk falling as he had to grab on to two bushes to save himself. His first aid kit went with it.

Another time a friend of mine accidentally placed his pack too near his campfire and dozed off only to awake to find his pack burnt beyond recognition.

The main idea of the first aid kit is to provide first aid to someone as soon as possible. Someone doing something with the fire picks up a hot pot and burns a hand. Perhaps gets a scald from boiling water.

Once while on a hike we had to descend from high elevation. We followed a creek down as the brush was very dense. I had both hands in my pockets as it gave me some comfort from the weight of my backpack. The rocks were slippery. We were walking in water. Suddenly I tripped and fell headfirst stopping less than an inch from a huge boulder. If I had hit the boulder I would possibly fractured my skull. Fortunately I ended up with a very sore shoulder. Accidents will happen.

My kit will contain pain medication such as Aspirin or Tylenol. Muscle salve for pulled muscles. Band aids, various sizes of bandages, and gauze for wrapping cuts. Sealed sterile wipes are very handy. Be sure to tale along an arm sling and a strip of cloth for use as a tourniquet.

I use zip lock baggies for keeping everything separated and dry. On a wet day moisture will find it’s way into the pack. How it does that I do not know, but it does.

Small kits are available from various sources. These should be improved by trying to surmise what may happen on your trip and how you would deal with the emergency. Try to think of what may crop up. Do you or any of your friends have a severe reaction from bee stings? What do you have for hemorrhoid relief? Do you have a small packet of petroleum jelly for burns and scrapes?

Before we set out on an extended hike we sit together and try to imagine what may happen and then prepare for the worst.

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