As a Girl Scout for over 10 years of my childhood, I like to think I keep safety in mind when I plan my excursions. However, sometimes it’s important to regroup and make sure that all of my safety precautions are up-to-date and accurate. My family and I had a great hike planned for New Year’s Day, and I thought it was a great opportunity to make sure my hiking first aid kit was up to date. I went to Target and loaded up my cart with all of the essentials, and some specialty items. Here is what I bought:
Hopefully, I will never have to use any of these items, except for the occasional band-aid every once in awhile, but it is really important to be prepared. This is especially true with small children. Imagine your child gets a mosquito bite on the trail and is complaining incessantly about the itching. How nice will it be to whip out your After-Bite and rub it on their wound? Even if it doesn’t do much, your child will appreciate you taking their complaints seriously.
It’s also good to be prepared for the bigger things, even though we hope that nothing ever happens. Since I was a child, I have been first aid and CPR certified and feel comfortable administering basic first aid, and know when things are severe enough to require medical attention. I do realize though, that most parents don’t have this background and their child’s injuries are very intimidating. I highly recommend taking a first aid class through your local Red Cross or another organization in order to feel more confident. Another reason to get training is to help you remain calm in a scary situation. If your child gets injured, chances are they are more freaked out and scared than you are, and they will be looking to you for calming reassurance. If you are a blubbering mess, they will become more upset and it will be more difficult to provide the care that they need.
A friend of mine recently described to a group of moms what happened when her toddler cut her finger and needed to get stitches. She had to hold her daughter still while the doctors injected the stinging Novacane into her tiny finger and stitched her up. While she wanted to scream and cry and hold her baby close, she knew she had to remain calm in order to keep her daughter as safe as possible. The more you understand what is going on, the calmer you can remain, and the better your child will feel in your presence.
Benadryl: I have definitely been out on the trail when hit with a severe allergic reaction to the blooming trees and grasses. Benadryl is not something that I want to take every day, but it is very helpful when I am having a major reaction to the environment. It is also good to have the children’s version of Benadryl on hand as well, just in case your child has a sudden reaction you weren’t expecting. (Please note that Benadryl is not recommended for use in children under 6 years old, consult your doctor).
Moleskin: One time my husband told me that he had never had a blister, and I was in shock. I don’t know a single woman who hasn’t had countless blisters in her life. Now that I am older, I rarely wear shoes that are uncomfortable because the fashion just isn’t worth the pain, but sometimes when hiking for miles, even the best shoes can cause discomfort. Moleskin is great because it sticks right to your skin and protects you from rubbing and chaffing. You can cut it to any size you need, so I definitely recommend having a little pair of scissors with you.
Chapstick: Chapstick might not seem like an obvious choice for your first aid kit, but have you ever had sunburn lips? Well let me spare you the horrible pain and tell you, you need to put sunscreen on your lips. Make sure you include Chapstick with SPF in your First Aid kit because it can also help with wind burn and just general dry weather chap.
Finally, it’s important to make sure that your first aid kits stay complete and up to date. Every couple of months, take everything out to check expiration dates and refill band-aids or other products that you have used. Depending on what type of activities you do, you could keep your first aid kit in your car or in your hiking backpack. Just make sure it’s not in your bathroom cabinet because it won’t be much use to you there! (Actually, it is a good idea to have a second first aid kit to keep in your house for home emergencies and boo-boos!). Feel free to leave a comment with what you like to keep in your kits, or share a story of when you had to use a (or could have used) a kit.