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18 June 2017

Have You Got An Outdoor First Aid Kit For Your Holiday?

Whether its going on the annual family holiday, or off camping with the Scouts at the weekend, or a romantic Sunday stroll up Snowdonia  (Croagh Patrick for our Irish customers); we strongly recommend that you pack yourself a good quality first aid kit; and when we say 'good quality' that's not some small bag with a few plasters from a pound shop.

We asked our Managing Director Steve Bray to give us some tips on items you should consider having in your outdoors first aid kit.

Steve says "Given that the vast majority of Lowland Search & Rescue Teams and Mountain Rescue Teams in the UK have been customers of ours for many many years, we get to hear all too often about how a simple family day out walking up a few hills can turn into a crisis needing the emergency and voluntary services to be called out. Now, I'm not saying that if you break your leg half way up Ben Nevis then a first aid kit will stop you needing a stretcher or even a rescue helicopter, but a good first aid kit can make all the difference and stop a deep cut completely spoiling a day out because you don't have a way of controlling the bleeding. First aid kit specifications are very subjective and have to be based on the risk assesment but here are my suggestions along with a brief explanation on each. Do give us your feedback, we'd love to hear from you."

Scissors 1 Pair I hate it when I see a first aid kit with a cheap pair of scissors in it. In my opinion its a false economy by the supplier as a pair of Heavy Duty Tuf Cut Shears is far more useful, especially in remote environments where a good pair of shears is far more up to the job.
Plasters Pack of 20 Buying cheap plasters is another false economy and the saying "buy cheap, but twice" is still very much true today. However, when out in the great outdoors, you probably haven't got the opportunity to buy again. Waterproof sterile plasters are a better bet as the risk of getting the wound damp is probably higher outdoors. Plasters need to be kept on for at least 24 hours, cheap plasters are unlikely to stay on for more than an hour or two.
Blister Plasters  1 Pack We all know that every single step with a blister can be agony. Applying a hydrocolloid plaster to a clean and dry blister can get you through those last few miles and back to safety as well as promoting faster healing.
First Aid Dressings 

1 Finger
2 Medium
2 Large
1 Eye Pad

A good selection of quality dressings are essential in any first aid kit. They should be made up from sterile absorbent pads with conforming bandages. Medium sized pads are 12cm x 12cm and Large sized pads are 18cm x 18cm. The bandages should be wide and long enough to provide sufficient support and compression to help control any bleeding. Finger dressings are great when you need something more substantial than just a plaster.
Trauma Dressings  1 of Each First aid dressings are fine for grazes and cuts but if you get a really serious cut then you need to be getting a proper Trauma Dressing out of your kit, as used by professional medics. Depending on your budget you could put more than 1 in your kit. There are 2 sizes available, 10cm x 18cm pad and 15cm x 18cm pad, both come with a heavy duty elasticated bandage for extra compression. 
Low Adherant Dressing Pads  5 of Each  My personal favourite and the ones that I always have in my kit are the adhesive versions, think of them as jumbo plasters. They are available in a multitude of sizes but 2 sizes should just be enough. Our 8.6cm x 6cm are great for fingers, heels, small cuts. Our 15cm x 7.5cm are where you need something a much longer to cover a large graze.
Triangular Bandages  4 15+ years ago I would be telling you to only choose calico cotton but now the non-woven waxed type paper ones are almost just as strong, as long as you go for a good quality brand. Several manufactures try and save money by going for smaller sizes, make sure your triangulars are at least 90 x 127cm, the SP branded ones are 96 x 136cm. The advantage of the larger size is that 
Crepe Bandage  2

It's better to go wide than narrow so choose 10cm x 4.5 meters and it will ensure you can use it on any sized patient or limb. Crepes are great to treat sprains and strains. Remember RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

Splinter Forceps 1 A useful addition to any outdoor first aid kit. I've been selling Hunter Splinter Forceps for over 28 years and even after all this time they are still our most popular splinter forceps. We also do a splinter forceps with a built in magnifying glass for those that need that little bit of extra vision.
Safety Pins 1 Has several uses, not all of which are for first aid. Bunch of 6  
Tape 1 of each Micropore is great for keeping dressings and pads in position and is easy to remove afterwards without damaging a patient's skin. Sleek however is like the medical version of gaffa tape, it's waterproof and sticks to almost everything, great in emergencies and in the outdoors. Can you used to keep splints in place, tape fingers together, repair walking boots, 101 different uses. 
Gauze Swabs 2 Packs Great for cleaning wounds when used in conjunction with the saline pods. Size wise I'd recommend 7.5cm x 7.5cm , Sterile, Pack of 5 Swabs
Saline Eye Wash 5 Pods I'm sure I don't need to tell you about the importance of weight if you're a hiker or climber. Eye Wash is heavy as its basically 99% water so I recommend carrying our 20ml sterile saline pods. They are the perfect size for flushing an injured eye or for cleaning a small dirty wound.
Rehydration Salts 1 Sachet Not really required for a single day out but if you are planning on spending a few nights outdoors then could prove useful packing a single sachet just in case one of you gets diarrhoea or vomiting.  
Wound Closure Strips 1 Pack You may have heard them called Butterfly Sutures but my personal favourites are Steri-Strips. I'd go for just the 1 packet of 6cm x 7.5mm. There are some great videos on YouTube on how to use these.
Gloves 2 Pairs of Small
2 Pairs of Large
Nitrile. Latex Free, Powder Free, Non Sterile, You can read my earlier article on Glove Quality at https://www.spservices.co.uk/AQL
Haemostitic Gauze 1 Time is critical when treating severe injuries in the field and saving time increases the chance of survival for the casualty. Celox RAPID is a specialist gauze that can be packed into a deep wound to help control severe bleeding.
Tourniquet 1 First Aid experts have argued against the use of tourniquets in recent years, but now this age old skill has made a comeback and is once again saving lives. For someone with a severely injured and bleeding limb, the use of a tourniquet can be both limb saving and potentially life saving. The CAT Tourniquet is by far our best selling trauma tourniquet, as used by the British Military. Would recommend you get some training beforehand.
Sam Splint 1 I'm a great fan of the Sam Splint, there any many bones in the body that you cant splint with a Sam. I would certainly recommend you have some training beforehand even if its just watching a few YouTube videos and trying out a Sam on your partner at home. It's lightweight and doesn't take up much room.
Torch   1 I mention it here just as a reminder to always take one out with you. Whether its a head torch, or something you keep with your hiking gear, or something you keep in your first aid kit; always make sure you have one. 
Light Stick  2 Light Sticks are great for emergency lighting and for signalling your location to others such as a rescue helicopter. Good quality ones such as the ones we sell are visible for up to 1 mile. One 5 minute Ultra Orange and One 12 hour Yellow would be my recommendation for a basic kit. 
Thermometer  1 A simple digital thermometer is great for diagnosing a fever or hypothermia. Normal body temperature is 36*C. Hypothermia is a temperature of 34*C or below. Fever is a temperature of 38*C or above. 
Paracetamol 16  Paracetamol is often recommended as one of the first treatments for pain and despite being around for a very long time, it should not be underestimated. It's also safe for most people to take and any side effects are rare. Follow dosage instructions on the packet.
Ibuprofen 16  Another pain killer with anti-inflammatory properties. A good choice when dealing with injuries to joints, bones and muscles eg sprains and strains. Follow dosage instructions on the packet. 
Burn Dressings

Hydrogel burn dressings for the treatment of burns and scalds. They can be used when no clean water source is available. Hydrogel dressings provide instant cooling, pain relief and protection. Can be used on children too. Can be used on superficial, partial or full thickness burns and scalds. 

Wound Cleansing Wipes Pack of 10  Do not buy wipes described as Antiseptic Wipes or Anti-Bacterial Wipes, these can actually damage live tissue and hinder the healing process. The only wipes you should use on an open wound should be made from Saline.
Mouth to Mouth Face Shield

If someone in your party goes into cardio respiratory arrest, or if you come across someone else whilst out; then you should attempt CPR. Depending on what training you have already been given, some people will be confident enough to do mouth to mouth ventilations with chest compressions, and some maybe will just want to try chest compressions only. For further details on why the two options, check our the British Heart Foundation's web site at https://www.bhf.org.uk

Guidance Leaflet Although its always best to have done some first aid training before you need to use those skills, a leaflet with basic instructions is always handy. If you have the room and can take the extra weight, why not add a copy of the First Aid Manual.
Instant Ice Pack The humble ice pack should not be underestimated. Blood cells and other fluids will flow into spaces around damaged skin and muscle creating swelling and bruising. Quickly applying an ice pack to the damaged area lowers the metabolism and consumption of oxygen while constricting local blood vessels preventing fluid build up. The application of an ice pack will also numb nerve endings, easing the pain. 
Whistle  Good for attracting the attention of your rescuers or other people who may be passing by but for whatever reason cannot easily see you. 
Foil Blanket  2 Although there is some debate about foil blankets not being able to warm up a cold patient, I do firmly believe that a foil blanket is an essential component in any first aid kit. They can provide an effective wind barrier and we all know that being in a draft when you're healthy can be physically draining, when your ill it can make a patient's condition deteriorate even further. The reflective silver foil material can also act as a way of signalling to the rescue services.

 

Surrey Search and Rescue is a member unit of the UK’s Lowland Rescue Service. Alongside Mountain Rescue, Cave Rescue, the RNLI and Volunteer Coastguard, they form the backbone of specialist help for the emergency services when anyone is in need of finding or rescuing.

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