First and foremost I’m going to preface this article with I’m not a doctor. Please consult one before making any life changing decisions. I’m writing this from experience with training and usage of WFR skills over the years. If you’re interested in a practical course of useful and potentially life saving info then I highly recommend going though a WMI sanctioned WFR course.
One of my favorite parts of prepping for a trip, big or small, is organizing a thoughtful and simple first aid kit that can address some of the potential hazards posed by a destination and activities. I think that by customizing your kit for a particular adventure it forces you think about the possible scenarios presented by the location, making you better prepared overall. If traveling with a group your mates will be stoked when you jump into action because you’ve already thought out a protocol for when little Johnny gets bit by a black mamba (ok maybe that’s a little overboard….)
The first thing I do is analyze and prioritize potential hazards posed by the activities and locations, and how they may interact and compound on one another. By weighing the potential discomforts a destination poses, when something inevitable goes wrong you can turn your trip around depending on the severity. I like to get by with as minimal a kit as possible. If afforded a large amount of space I may bring extra first aid material and divvy it up into a smaller pack for the day. I’ll always carry the basics like NSAID’s and gloves but a lot of the rest depends on what I’m doing and where.
Prime example: Packing for the Yucatan
I leave in exactly a week for a bunch of fishing in the Mexican Yucatan. This requires a bit more forethought as the trip’s priority is fishing which may or may not be close to civilization, and the standards of care and sanitation probably aren’t going to be quite as high. So far my prioritization is as follows.
1. Gastrointestinal/Dietary- We all know that gringos usually have hard time with the H20 and potentially the food. In order to prevent this I’ll carry the basics like hand sanny for in a pinch prior to meals. Additionally I’ll carry Pepto for my sensitive tummy, as well as a preemptive prescription of Ciproflaxin which can stop a bacterial attack in it’s tracks and save a trip. Consult your doc before getting a Cipro scrip as it can literally kill you…I personally can have a mild allergic reaction to shrimp, and my self control isn’t the strongest, so I’ll have an antihistamine on hand for when I inevitably dive in to a pile for dinner (not recommended!!!)
2. Trauma/Lacerations- Being in a boat tossing large tarpon flies in the wind makes me leery of potential impalement of a large fish hook. Additionally we have had people get banged and cut up in the boat in rough waters. In a humid environment any open wound is susceptible to dirt and muck getting perspired in. For cuts and laceration the essentials that I carry on every trip are a combo of Suture Strips and Tincture of Benzoin. For a cut that won’t respond to pressure these items will help close things up temporarily. I carry a plastic dental syringe and a source of clean (bottled) water to irrigate a wound prior to treatment. Lastly a mild antibiotic cream that helps kill bad bacteria and facilitate healing is present as well. Most importantly before any of these should be used, put on some sterile gloves. Remember if it’s warm or gooey and bodily you probably don’t want direct contanct…
3. Heat/Sun injuries- The last major concern I have is likelihood on sunburns and dehydration. While the best way to treat is overall prevention I may carry some electrolyte tabs to help rehydrate and settle my stomach if dehydrated as well as aloe to sooth sunburns. A sunburn will cause the body to become more dehydrated so it’s important to be extra vigilant as they can become correlated. I don’t anticipating being to far off the grid so I should have consistent access to bottled water, it might be a good idea to take something like a Steri-Pen if uncertain.
Thus these 3 potential situations can become a lot easier to handle should they arise because they’ve been given some forethought. Having stuff go wrong happens (just ask me about throwing up in St. Peter’s Basilica, whoops!), so little things like this can help make your trip or one of your travel partners a lot easier.
A selection of essentials to have on the boat at all times
A full kit that will remain in luggage and accessible if necessary