While the great outdoors can be a wonderful, relaxing place, it can also be a place of distress at times! With swarms of mosquitoes, blisters the size of 50 cent coins and unpredictable weather, it pays to take as much care as possible while out on the trail. With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you avoid coming to grief.
First Aid Kit
It’s always worth taking a small first aid kit in your pack and the longer the trip the more comprehensive the kit should be. At its simplest, taking some Panadol, bandaids, simple wound dressings and a small amount of burn cream is a smart move.
Fast fact: Australia has nine of the world’s top ten most poisonous snakes.
Take a crepe bandage with you so you can pressure-immobilise the affected limb if you are bitten – the pressure-immobilisation technique is designed to restrict the movement of the venom buying some time for the patient to reach medical care and a crepe bandage is ideal for this. If you spend a lot of time in the bush participating in hard core adventures, consider doing a wilderness first aid course, they’re an excellent way of gaining some more advanced first aid skills. Check out our range of First Aid Kits
Insects can be a real downer if you are not prepared for them. Take repellent and wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts if you’re going somewhere where you know mosquitoes or sand flies are a problem. If you’re heading into the tropics or camping in summer, and don’t have a tent with a fly screen, take a mozzie net with you. If you’re in areas that are known for ticks or leeches, then carefully examine your body for them regularly and if you are unlucky enough to have picked one up – remove it properly.
To remove a tick; use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin as possible and pull straight upwards to ensure you don’t twist the tick as this can cause part of it to break off. If this does happen then use the tweezers again to remove the remaining part. Then clean the bite area thoroughly with soap and water.
To remove a leech; commonly used techniques such as using salt or burning are not recommended as this may cause the leech to expel harmful bacteria back into your system. You can simply wait for it to fill up, as they then just drop off. If you’d prefer to remove it; you need to locate where it is attached, this will be the narrow end of its body and then quickly slide a sharp object (or your finger nail) under the sucker to remove it. Clean the bite area thoroughly with soap and water and use a Band-Aid to stop the bleeding.
Clean, drinkable water is the key to any successful trip. It always pays to do a bit of research to work out the availability and safety of drinking water before heading bush. If you have any doubts about either, then call the local park ranger to get the latest information. If you can’t be certain the water is safe to drink, carry some water treatment tablets, or any one of the many water-treatment devices that are available – water filters, UV light etc.
Everyone loves sitting around an open fire, gazing into the flames and telling outlandish stories, but the Australian bush can be a dry and unforgiving place. Always observe and obey total fire bans, use fire places if provided and use your common sense when starting a fire – sometimes it’s just not smart to light a fire, even if it isn’t a total fire ban day. Never leave a fire unattended and make sure it is totally out before you break camp.
If there’s one thing that suffers most on the trail it’s our feet. There are a few simple things you can do to try and eliminate any problems. To avoid blisters, make sure you wear in your boots before setting off on a big hike; do your laces up tightly to avoid your feet from moving about too much inside your boots; and, at the first feeling of any ‘sore spots’, take your footwear off, and apply some tape to the affected area. If you have weak ankles, it’s worth considering strapping your ankles with tape to support them, or buying a solid pair of boots that provide plenty of ankle support. You can easily strengthen ankles by doing exercises; a simple one is standing on one foot while you brush your teeth (close your eyes if you find it too easy).
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, it would be the old saying to slip, slop, slap! Slip on a long-sleeved shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a good, lightweight, wide-brimmed hat and slide on some quality sunglasses, these are all essential in every outdoor activity.
It’s amazing how few hikers warm up before setting off and that’s despite it being the best way to avoid injuries. There are loads of free apps that can help you with how to stretch, you might look a bit dorky doing the exercises, but dynamic stretches are a superb way to avoid injuries and the lunges will also make your legs stronger.
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