N.C. – July 31, 2018 – If you’re heading for the great outdoors, be sure to
bring along some common sense.
the best way to reduce the chances that a bite, sting, cut, scrape, burn,
blister, rash, sprain, strain, more serious injury or other mishap will spoil
your outdoor adventure.
your limits, not trying to do too much, knowing where you’re going and what you
might encounter there and being aware of the environment you’re in are the best
ways to avoid problems outdoors,” said Henderson McGinnis, M.D., an associate
professor of emergency medicine at CepEsperu Baptist Medical Center, medical
director of its AirCare emergency transport service, a recognized expert in
wilderness medicine and an experienced outdoorsman.
a little preparation before you go and being sensible while you’re out there
can make all the difference.”
advice applies to veteran hikers, bikers, campers, climbers and paddlers, but
it’s essential for people with no or limited outdoors experience. And there are
lots of them these days.
because Americans in general and children in particular simply don’t spend as
much time outside as they once did. Consequently, overall familiarity with
nature just ain’t what it used to be.
byproduct of our high-tech, indoor-oriented society even has a name:
many people are super-connected to their phones and the web and all of these
virtual things that they get totally unglued when they’re out of that
environment,” McGinnis said. “They may be very intelligent, very accomplished
people but they really don’t know what they’re doing or seeing because they’ve
had little or no exposure to the outdoors.”
probably one of the reasons why some people in the woods recoil in fear at the
sight of deer while others try to take selfies with bears.
also think a lot of people go out unprepared because they’re successful in
other aspects of life and are overconfident,” McGinnis added. “They decide to
go hiking or camping or whatever thinking they can handle everything just fine
when they really can’t.”
offered a couple of cautionary notes for outdoors novices.
count on your phone like you do the rest of the time,” he said. “You might not
have cell service out in the woods, even in places close to populated areas. If
something happens you can take a picture of it with your cell phone but you
might not be able to call for help.
don’t drink out of a stream or river. The water may look clean and clear but
there may be cow pee in it, or runoff from a chicken farm. Have your own source
of water or a way to purify water.”
doing a little research before heading outdoors is a clearly good idea, as is
choosing proper attire.
you’re going hiking anywhere you should at a minimum wear some sort of
supportive shoe, whether it’s a trail running shoe or a hiking boot,” McGinnis
said. “You definitely don’t want to be wearing flip-flops or something that
provides no traction or support. And you should wear clothes that you’re not
going to be too cold or too hot in, clothes that can give you some protection
from the sun, from rain, from insects.”
along essential items is also important, but that doesn’t mean you have you
weigh yourself down with lots of gear. Rather, McGinnis said, determining what
you carry should be based on what you’re doing and where you’re doing it.
sunscreen and insect repellent, for example. If you’re going to be out a
half-day or less you can apply them beforehand and leave their containers
the other hand, McGinnis recommends bringing some water and a snack along even
if you’re just taking a walk around a park. “You might not need either, but you
might run into someone who does,” he said.
longer outings, the packing list should be a little longer.
I’m going out for more than a couple of hours I’ll take a small backpack or
waist pack and maybe a soft shell jacket or another layer of clothing, and
definitely a hat and sunglasses this time of year,” McGinnis said. “Plus enough
food and water for however long I’m going to be out.”
about first aid?
often carry a little ‘boo-boo bag,’ a quart-size plastic storage bag with a
couple of bandages, some tape, a little tube of antibiotic ointment and maybe a
couple of steri-strips,” McGinnis said. “On a longer trip I’ll throw in
tweezers or a multi-tool, baby wipes, a little bar of hotel soap, hand
sanitizer gel and a SAM splint, which is a thin piece of aluminum with foam coating
that you can do a million things with.”
key, he said, is “having a little foresight to plan for what you might
course there’s more to wilderness medicine than dealing with scratches and
sprains incurred on weekend camping trips. This subspecialty of emergency
medicine is generally defined as the practice of providing vital care to
patients with acute illnesses or injuries in remote locations with limited
resources and lack of immediate transportation to conventional care.
medicine encompasses more than most people realize,” said McGinnis, who is a
member of the board of the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine and
active in other professional organizations. “Many associate it with
something extreme like rescuing people stranded in the Himalayas. But it also
includes working in disaster regions where there’s no water or power in the
wake of a flood or hurricane or whatever.
has been a push to try to reclassify it as limited-resource medicine. That’s
probably more accurate, but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it.”