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HomeNL-2018-05 Safety Minute

Safety Minute
April 2018
by Terry Herdlicka

This is an article to follow up on the first aid kit review from the March 8, 2017 meeting.

The best protection for all persons on any trip would be to have your own First Aid Kit (FAK) and have it easily accessible. There are many reasons for carrying a FAK. One never knows when something may come up on a day trip or on over-nighters for several days. The incidents, as we all know, can be variable from a small scratch, stepping on unknown objects in the water, insect bites, to larger scrapes, allergic reactions, hypo or hyperglycemia, hypo or hyperthermia, bleeding disorders, or fractures.

Every person paddling should prepare their trip with medications specific to their own health. It may be wise to alert the person in charge of the trip, and or one or two others in the group, if there are specific health needs, reassure them you have what you need, and let them know where the items are in case there is a problem and you are unable to assist.

Here I will address the basic first aid kit:

First Aid Kit -

1) Disposable Gloves (Non Latex preferred) - First line of protection for your self (to prevent blood borne pathogens); and for the injured person(s) for infections to the wound site.
CPR shield (optional)

2) Flexible Bandaids of all sizes

3) Butterfly Bandaids - great for small open wounds that may require a suture to hold the area closed long enough to get to an ER. A wound of this type requires suturing within 8 hours. There are pros and cons for these open wounds.
  • a) pros - can decrease the bleeding potential until one can get to the ER; allow for skin tissue to regrow sooner.
  • b) cons - open wounds in the wilderness on the water carry unkown bacteria. Closing the area may promote growth; although not using these bandaids and getting to an ER in time to suture may require the wound to stay open and heal from the inside out causing a longer healing time and an extreme scar
4) Variety of sizes of Sterile Gauze Pads for cleaning wounds (depends on the size of wound).

5) There are several types of dressings, check them out:
  • a) non stick dressings (requires tape to secure)
  • b) non stick dressings with adhesive (may require tape if in wet, sweaty environment)
  • c) Abd pads (larger for larger wounds) (requires tape to secure)
  • d) Femine pads (peri-pads) may be used in the place of Abd pads.
  • e) Duo-Derm is another film dressing that could be used. Check for 2x2; 3x3 and 4x4's
6) There are several types of tape:
  • a) Recommended is the self stick tape on a roll - no need for other type of tape.
  • b) Paper tape
  • c) Ace Wraps (2"; 3"; 4"; 6" (For larger limbs, abdomen)
  • d) Duct Tape or Gorilla Tape (Better)
Cleaning wounds:
  • 1) Fresh water (bottled) would be your first choice to rinse the wound of debris
  • 2) Betadine in a small bottle OR swabs (Rinse well with bottled water as this could cause itching with some people if left to dry)
  • 3) Peroxide in a small bottle (this has a tendency to kill new cells; if using: rinse well with bottled water to dilute)
Once cleaned TRIPLE ANTIBIOTIC (Abx) OINTMENT applied and then dressed.

Other items to have:
  • 1) Small Bandaid Scissors
  • 2) Small forceps with teeth
  • 3) Tweezers
  • 4) Advil / Aspirin (not for persons on anticoagulants) / Tylenol
  • 5) Benadryl
  • 6) White Cloth (not colored) to secure a larger wound from bleeding (not to cut the circulation from a limb)
  • 7) Large Triangular cloth for a sling

The author, Terry Herdlicka