Camping First Aid

A basic first-aid guide to keep in your back pocket for all camping, caravan and 4WD adventures.

Do's Don'ts
Burns - Apply cool water, then ice Don’t use dressings as they will stick to the wound. 
Fractures - Stop bleeding, apply pressure and immobilise injured area. Seek medical help. Don’t move the injured area to see where it hurts. 
Breaks - Stop bleeding, apply pressure and immobilise injured area. Seek medical help. Don’t try and realign the bone or push a bone that’s sticking out back in. Don’t apply ice. 
Dislocation - Leave joint alone. Apply ice. Use ibuprofen for pain and wait for treatment by a medical professional. Don’t attempt to move or jam dislocated bone back in. (can damage blood vessels, muscles, ligaments and nerves. 
Sprain - Ice ASAP; for 15-20 minutes, 4-8 times a day for the first 48 hours. Compress with elastic wrap or bandage.  Don’t ice for too long as it could cause tissue damage. 
Bleeding - Apply direct pressure with a clean cloth or tissue.  Don’t apply a tourniquet unless the bleeding is severe and not stopped with direct pressure. 
Snake Bite - Call 000. Have the person lie down with wound below heart. Keep person calm and at rest remaining as still as possible to keep venom from spreading. Cover the wound with a loose sterile bandage until ambo gets there.  Don’t move. Don’t stress. Do not apply ice or a tourniquet to a venomous snake bite. Don’t cut the wound and do not apply suction to try and remove venom. 
Spider Bite - Use ice pack (wrapped in cloth) to help reduce pain and swelling. Medical first aid should be sought immediately. 
DO NOT Bandage (except for Funnel-web). 
Graze - Clean wound (rinse under water). Pat dry. Raise and support part of the body that’s injured. Change plasters daily.  Don’t pick at scabs. 
Stroke - Seek immediate medical assistance. Strokes are true emergencies. The sooner treatment is given, the more likely it is that the damage can be minimized.  Don’t freak out. The person’s life now depends on you. Call an ambulance.
Seizures - Talk calmly to the person suffering the seizure, remove any and all objects surrounding the person. 
Help them sit down in a safe place. 
If they are at risk of falling lay them on the ground and support their head from hitting the floor. 
Make sure their breathing is okay. 
Call for emergency help if the seizure lasts for more than 5 minutes 
Do not the person down forcibly; it doesn't stop a seizure it can lead to more serious injuries. 
Do not put anything in the person's mouth; face and jaw muscles may tighten during a seizure causing the person to bite down. 
(they can’t swallow their tongue during a seizure) 
Don’t give them water, pills or food by mouth unless the person is fully alert. 
Food Poisoning - Avoid all solid foods until vomiting ends. Then eat light, bland foods such as saltine crackers, bananas, rice or bread. 
Sleep
Do not eat fried, greasy, spicy or sweet foods. 
Don’t take anti nausea or anti-diarrhea medication without asking your doctor. 
Heart attacks - Someone experiencing a heart attack may experience all or any of the following:
  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness or squeezing 
  • Discomfort or pain spreading beyond the chest to the shoulders, neck, jaw, teeth
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting
  • Sweating or nausea
What to do? 
  • Call 000 Immediately 
  • Chew and swallow an aspirin 
  • Begin CPR if the person is unconscious
  • If an (AED) automated external defibrillator is available then use it.
Concussions - Call 000 right away if: 
  • There is severe head or face bleeding
  • The person is confused, tired, or unconscious 
  • The person stops breathing
  • You suspect a serious head or neck injury, or the person develops any signs of symptoms of a serious head injury.
If the injury is serious, be careful not to move the person's head

 

Types of First Aid Kits and What You Should Carry With You

“Playground Basics”

  • Plasters (band aids)
  • Sterile gauze
  • A couple of dressings
  • Normal Saline Solution (for cleaning wounds and for use as eye irrigation: think of the sandpit at the playground!)
  • Tools for splinter removal (these are normally made of plastic and are packed sterile)
  • Pain/Itch Relief Spray for insect bites
  • Instant Cold Pack: These are suitable for one use only and are easy to activate when needed. They easily fit in the back pocket of the stroller. (You’ll be the star mother of the playground if you can whip one of these out when it’s needed!)
  • Something sweet (a couple of jellybeans, or packet of dried apricots)…research shows that glucose given to neonates acts as an effective form of pain relief 1, I have no access to clinical research to prove the same in children too, but never mind, as clever mums we know it does!
  • A small plastic face shield for resuscitation (if you are CPR qualified this is useful to carry around all the time, St Johns have a key ring version).

“On the road”

These can generally be larger more comprehensive kits. In addition to the basics I would add:

  • Pocket Mask (for resuscitation)
  • An assortment of bandages
  • Sterile scissors
  • Compresses to make larger dressings
  • An assortment of dressings
  • A few pairs of latex gloves (include sterile and non-latex varieties)
  • A separate bites and stings kit: for Australians this is a useful kit for potentially deadly spider and snake bites. It could contain bandages for pressure and limb immobilization, plus a cold pack.

“Go-to box”

You will probably have an assortment of first aid bits and pieces floating around anyway, but it may be useful to have a closed kit under the kitchen sink so that if supplies run out unbeknownst to you, then you have the necessary materials. Something worth keeping in the kitchen is a “Fire Blanket”.

  • A couple of plasters (band aids)
  • Anti-histamine: Bring this if it has been recommended by a pharmacist or doctor in order to help with travel sickness and to encourage sleepiness. Always try out the medication first as paradoxical excitation (hyperactivity) can occur.  Also, whilst talking about anti-histamines, which are usually given for allergic reactions, with young children I would personally recommend avoid introducing a new item of food whilst in the air. 30,000 feet above land is not a good place to discover a new allergy!
  • Pain Relief: Paracetamol will also serve the purpose of treating a fever should your child be unfortunate enough to spike one mid–flight. Remember the medication dispensing agent (syringe) and don’t forget to pack paracetamol for yourself.
  • Medication relevant to existing conditions for example; diabetes, asthma, reflux etc. You will need enough medication to cover the usual daily dosage. I would also pack extra into the hand luggage so that if any is spilt you have a backup supply.

A Note About Epipens

  • Children (and adults) who have a diagnosed life-threatening allergy (to anything at all) must carry an epipen (a small injection of adrenaline) with them at all times. If this applies to you it may worth adding one into your first aid kit(s) so that you have spares in multiple places. Remember to check the use by date regularly.

Where can I get a first aid kit?

  • You can purchase first aid kits from pharmacies and camping/outdoors shops and in Australia St John’s Ambulance offer a wide variety of kits online.
  • Naturally, you can also make your own kit but it is easier to get a good kit with the basics and then customize it by adding in whatever you feel you need.

 


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