First Aid Friday: Safe, outdoor fun

Some people will spend Fourth of July weekend at home, but for many others their idea of a great Independence Day is spent in outdoors camping, hiking or swimming. For First Aid Friday, Nathan Harig of Cumberland Goodwill EMS shared commonly overlooked safety tips that can make a good day outside much more enjoyable.

Risks for someone visiting a pool, park, or forest include water-borne illnesses. Recreational water illnesses can cause a wide variety of infections even at pools treated with chlorine. The most notorious is Cryptosporidium, which can last in properly treated pool water for several days.

The CDC has some strategies for everyone to follow to make swimming safer:

  • No one should be swimming with diarrhea
  • Shower before you get into the water to remove any germs on you that may later wash into your eyes or mouth.
  • Don’t use the water as a toilet and avoid swallowing the water.
  • Hikers might be tempted to take a dip in natural bodies of water they discover, but stick to approved swimming areas to avoid any infections.

When camping and desiring to drink nearby water, you should note these tips:

  • Boil Water for one minute to kill all pathogens.
  • Filtration and Chemical disinfection can be combined if boiling water is not possible.
  • UV light and MIOX® systems are effective against some, but not all pathogens
  • Iodine-disinfectants not recommended for those pregnant, with thyroid problems, known hypersensitivity to iodine or for continuous use.
  • Bury human waste eight inches deep and 200 feet away from natural waters.
  • Practice good personal hygiene.

When going deep into the wildnerness, remember that cell phones might not have coverage everywhere you are. You may not be able to communicate if you are in a dead spot and something goes wrong. It is important to include others in your plans and let them know your planned route and duration.

The American Trauma Society PA Division and the Lehigh Valley Health network came up with tags that are free from the ATSPA. They list basic information about your activities, what time you’re expected back, and can be hung on your car so that rescuers are more informed if they have to come look for you.

Overlooked items that should be added to a wilderness first aid kit:

  • If you have severe allergies, make sure that you are carrying your epi pen or other medication in case something happens.
  • Remember to pack sunscreen, insect repellent, and consider moleskin for blisters that may form on your feet.
  • Asthmatics should bring along their inhaler.
  • Anyone with any medical history should bring along their regularly prescribed meds.
  • Make sure to have a good supply of bandages and wraps in case an injury does happen, as well as everything necessary to keep wounds clean and sterile.

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