Exploring the great outdoors is an exhilarating experience and can be a real adventure, but you always have to be mindful that you are vulnerable to the elements and there is always the prospect of an accident putting you in jeopardy at a moments notice.
In just the same way that you can be driving along safely one minute and the next you are caught up in a jackknife accident, there is always the chance that your wilderness adventure can turn sour and put you in danger.
This is why it matters to have an awareness of the potential dangers and have a plan for getting yourself out of trouble when you suffer an unexpected injury.
Here is a look at the most common injuries that you can sustain when you are exploring some of the wilder parts of our natural world.
Spraining your ankle is so easy to do
The severity of any injury you sustain while in the wilderness will be a major factor in deciding what course of action you take to get out of trouble and whether you need urgent medical help.
Not surprisingly, minor injuries like a sprained ankle are far more commonplace than a broken limb, but they can be just as dangerous if you suffer a sprain and find yourself unable to carry on with your walk despite being miles from anywhere resembling civilization.
It is estimated that just over half of the injuries that result in an evacuation by the emergency services are attributed to ankle-related injuries.
The majority of non-fatal accidents are down to a sprained or broken limb and you need to be drilled on how to deal with this scenario if it happens to you.
The acronym that matters in this situation is RICE and it should be something you are familiar with if you want to try and treat your injury and get yourself to safety.
Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation are the four elements of your response to spraining an ankle.
You need to rest your ankle and take the pressure off it immediately. Your next step should be to try and reduce the swelling with an ice pack if possible, or more likely if you are unable to use ice, soak an item of clothing and wrap it around the injured ankle. The third step is to compress the joint, but avoid overdoing it and compressing so tightly that you damage circulation.
The final step is to elevate your ankle so that it is in a position that is above chest level if you can.
Give the RICE procedure 20 minutes at least to work and give your ankle at least 10 minutes to warm up before attempting to walk with it again.
You can minimize the risk of a sprained ankle by wearing good quality hiking boots and aim to avoid uneven terrain, especially if visibility is poor.
Water can be a killer
Drowning is named as one of the most common causes of death when it comes to hiking-related accidents.
The major issue with drowning is that it sometimes takes too long for someone else to realize that the person in the water is actually in major difficulties.
When someone falls into the water it is a shock to their system and they can often be too preoccupied with trying to catch their breath in cold water to consider calling out for help.
Classic signs of a drowning person include seeing someone upright in the water and when their arms are by their side rather than above their head.
If you call out to someone in the water and they don’t respond, you may have less than a minute to get to them and help them out of the water.
Anyone going hiking should have some first-aid knowledge and it would be good to know how to perform CPR if someone has stopped breathing after suffering a drowning accident.
A cut can be trouble in the wilderness
If you suffer a cut or abrasion while out walking you can take the same approach to treat the wound as you would at home, with a few adaptions for the prevailing conditions.
Your primary aim is to stop the bleeding and dress the cut, but you need to be aware that it is not a good idea to clean a wound using fresh water from a stream or river, however clean it looks.
You run the risk of exposing the wound to bacteria if you do that, so aim to carry some alcohol or antiseptic cream in your kit to clean up.
The problem with a head injury
A simple fall can easily lead to a medical emergency and the major problem that you might have to contend with is that head injuries don’t always reveal themselves outwardly, and something bad could be going on inside that you are not aware of immediately.
Head injuries can be notoriously difficult to detect in these circumstances, which is why you need to familiarize yourself with the AVPU scale, which is a recognized procedure designed to evaluate a head injury.
The aim of AVPU is to run through a series of protocols and tests that can give you a clue with regard to what is going on inside the injured person’s head, even if there is no real sign of damage on the outside.
If someone is not responding after suffering even a minor head injury they need to be evacuated to safety as a matter of priority.
These are the main injuries that you can suffer while exploring the wilderness and the way to deal with any of these challenging circumstances is to be prepared for any of these eventualities as best you can.
Having first aid training and supplies would be a good start and making friends and family aware of your travel plans would also help, as they can sound the alarm if you don’t make contact with the expected timeframe.
Enjoy your wilderness adventures, just be mindful of the dangers and prepared for dealing with an unforeseen accident.
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