While you’re planning your next outdoor trip, don’t forget to plan for the unexpected. Nothing can turn a trip sour faster than an injury you’re not prepared to treat. Make sure you know what to do if one of these common injuries happens on your vacation.
Bee and wasp stings
If someone’s allergic, you should make sure you carry plenty of EpiPens and be prepared to call 9-1-1. If not, you can take certain steps yourself.
If you’re wearing any tight-fitting jewelry (bracelets, rings, watches), remove it. Any excess swelling could make them hard to get off. Don’t pinch the stinger itself, as that can inject more venom. Instead, scrape the area with your fingernail or a razor blade (gently!) until the stinger comes out or use tweezers to remove it. To reduce the swelling, ice the area if possible. If you’ve been stung on your arm or leg, elevate it.
To treat the pain, plain old OTC acetaminophen or ibuprofen works well, but if there’s itchiness, you may need an antihistamine, too. If those make you sleepy, try a mixture of baking soda and water or calamine lotion applied to the sting.
Cuts and lacerations
Apply firm, direct pressure to the wound for at least 10 minutes to stop the bleeding. Then clean the area with a gentle soap and warm water. Apply an antibiotic ointment to reduce the chance of infections, then bandage the area with a sterile bandage or rag.
Broken bones are tricky because it depends on what bone is broken. You’ll always want to seek professional help, but in the meantime, you can help. Do your best to immobilize the injured person, removing any jewelry so it doesn’t get stuck due to swelling. You can stop any bleeding by applying firm pressure; just be careful not to further damage the break if possible.
If the break doesn’t result in a severe deformation, you can protect it with other body parts or other items. Tape fingers to another finger. Use a rope or belt (or fabric) to tie an injured arm to the body, sling-style, elevating it to heart level if possible. You can create a splint with any rigid object, but be careful not to secure it directly on top of the break.
Then apply a towel-wrapped ice pack to reduce pain and swelling. If the person is in shock (feeling faint, shortness of breath, etc.), lay them down and elevate their legs (if possible) and trunk.
Burns are common around campfires, especially if people have been enjoying the fact that they don’t have to drive home a bit too much. If someone gets burned, first smother any flames with a blanket or water. (If they’re on fire, tell them to stop, drop and roll).
If the burn isn’t too bad (first-degree — a mild red burn, similar to a sunburn), you can use cool cloths to soothe the burned area. Apply aloe vera or other soothing lotion and hydrocortisone cream.
These are just some of the most common camping emergencies, but you never know what you’ll need. Check out our Summer safety checklist below to make sure you have all the necessities!