Murphy’s law states that if anything can go wrong, it will. So that’s why you must be prepared. Packing your own first aid kit before hitting the trail— whether you’re fleeing a disaster or going on a winter adventure—is imperative.
Fighting bacteria with honey
You may have adhesive strips in your survival medical kit, but if someone gets a cut, you also want to keep it sanitary so the patient doesn’t get an infection.
In these cases, your first step will be to rinse the cut with water. “Whatever you’re using for drinking water will work to rinse out the cut,” says Rod Brouhard, a paramedic, the topic guide for About.com’s First Aid page and an author on disaster preparedness. “Once you’ve rinsed it, you should apply an antiseptic.
If you didn’t bring one along, you can use natural honey, which can do double-duty as an anti-bacterial.” Any form of honey will work, Brouhard says, just be sure not to use it on children under one year of age, as it’s inadvisable for them to ingest honey.
Consider these natural remedies
Your outdoor maladies will be quelled quickly if you know a few cures that you can find in nature. Consider these tips from James Kellar, founder and head instructor at the Northeast Ohio Primitive Living and Wilderness School:
- You can use moss as a bandage, Kellar says. Or try yarrow, a plant related to the chrysanthemum. “Yarrow will actually clot the wound,” Kellar says. “The wound will have to be kept clean and have new natural bandages applied a couple times daily.”
- In cases of a sprain, you can make a splint out of branches and wrap it with natural cordage, Kellar adds. “If the person needs mobility help, they can create makeshift crutches to help them move.”
- Have a headache? Consider herbal cures. You can use willow or aspen bark tea, which act as natural aspirins, he suggests.
Understanding the symptoms of hypothermia can be complicated especially if you consider the fact that if you’ve ever uncontrollably shivered from the cold, you’ve already had it.
“The symptoms of hypothermia range from mild to severe,” Brouhard says. “Mild is when you can’t stop shivering, so you’re already a little hypothermic once you begin to shiver and it’s sustained.”
Does physical activity stop hypothermia
When the feeling of hypothermia begins to set in, many people think it’s a good idea to increase their activity level to warm up their core body temperature, but that isn’t a complete cure, says para-medic Rod Brouhard.
“That’s only sustainable for a while because you have to rest eventually,” he says. Therefore, if you know you’ll be stuck in the cold weather for a long period of time, you’re better off using that energy to start a fire and add layers to your clothing.
As soon as your body temperature falls below 95 F, you are classified as being hypothermic. The next step of hypothermia moderate is rather dangerous due to the fact that it often features a lack of symptoms. “One sign of moderate hypothermia is that you stop shivering,” Brouhard says. “Your body has decided that rather than creating heat by burning fuel to try and warm up (shivering) you instead stop using fuel and begin to conserve it.”
Therefore, if you haven’t done anything to get warmer, but your body suddenly stops shivering, you might have entered a more damaging stage of hypothermia.
Once a person enters severe hypothermia, it’s difficult to use cognitive abilities, after which confusion and fatigue set in. “Fine motor skills will be greatly diminished, and even walking will be difficult in this stage,” Brouhard says. Before you get to this stage, however, be sure to take steps that will bring your body temperature back up to a safe level. As soon as you begin to shiver, that’s the time to act. “Make a fire, add layers of clothing and get out of the exposure,” Brouhard adds.
When you hear the word “dehydration,” you may picture a person crawling through the desert under the heat of the August sun, but the reality is that you can dehydrate any time of year, no matter what the temperature.
In fact, cold weather dehydration can greatly increase your chance of suffering from other issues. “The more dehydrated you are, the more prone you are to both hypothermia and frostbite,” Brouhard says. “You have to have fluid in the body to keep the blood flowing properly.”
It isn’t as easy to realize that you’re sweating in the winter, because your layers of clothing typically absorb the sweat before you feel it, and cool breezes evaporate the perspiration from your face. In fact, he says, it’s possible to get heatstroke when out in the cold.