Northeast Iowa offers some wonderful, scenic hiking country with treks suitable for occasional holiday walkers or serious hardcore hikers who seek the close to nature experience of the remote, wild areas. Whatever your intentions, all hikers should have a basic knowledge of first aid and be prepared for an emergency, especially if you’re planning on visiting the remotest areas of Northeast Iowa’s parks or going on an overnight trip.
Your first aid kit will vary depending upon the nature of your trip and those included in your party. Some items will be used regularly while others, although rarely needed, would be critical in an emergency situation. You can buy ready-made kits and add to them as required to make a personalised kit.
Keep your kit waterproof by using small, re-sealable bags and plastic bottles. Make sure you label all medication clearly. It’s also a good idea to include other items which don’t strictly fall into the first aid category but you may well need; lip balm, sunscreen, bite and sting cream, duct tape, insect repellent and a multi-use tool for example.
The following is a checklist which you may find useful when compiling your kit. Some items are essentials but others are optional extras and you can mix and match accordingly. Don’t forget to include any prescription medication which members of your group may need.
First aid kit checklist:
· Bandages: an assortment of sizes
· Small sterile dressing pads
· Sterile, waterproof plasters of various sizes
· Gauze roll
· Adhesive tape
· Multi-tool (this should include scissors and a knife blade)
· Blunt, round-ended scissors
· Digital thermometer
· Splint (lightweight foam-covered e.g. SAM splint)
· Large bore syringes for flushing wounds
· Safety pins
· Cotton bud swabs
· Cleansing pads containing lidocaine
· Elasticated bandage (for supporting sprains or joint injuries)
· Wound ointment containing antibiotic/steroid
· Ibuprofen and paracetamol tablets (pain relief)
· Antihistamine tablets (hayfever/allergy relief)
· Antihistamine cream (relief of stings/bites etc)
· Imodium tablets (diarrhoea relief)
· Latex gloves
· CPR shield mask (provides a one-way valve barrier during CPR)
· Electrolytes (for heat exhaustion/dehydration)
· Space blanket (for treating hypothermia)
· Pad and pencil
· First Aid booklet
It’s good practice for everyone to attend a basic first aid course especially if you have children. You never know when you may need that knowledge. A good knowledge of first aid techniques is vital if you are intending to take part in any outdoor door activity, whether it is horse riding, hiking, skiing, snowboarding or water sports.
More advanced courses are available which are specifically aimed at Wilderness activities and mountaineering and it’s very important that at least one member of your party has attended such a course recently.
Accidents can happen to even the well-prepared but a good first aid kit and a person with the right training can easily make the difference between a minor accident and serious complications.
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.