Wilderness First-Aid and Outdoor Survival

Courtesy of treehugger.com
Courtesy of treehugger.com

Why I Became Certified

Before I could teach mountain biking to campers in New Hampshire I was told that I needed first to be certified by the National Safety Council in Adult and Child CPR. In addition to getting my certificate, I also went on to obtain a certificate in Wilderness First-Aid which is fast becoming a valuable certification to have.

Some other helpful and useful items include a halogen flashlight with extra batteries, a flare gun, a camping/survival knife, a sewing kit, aluminum foil, extra canteens, fish hooks, fishing lines, flint and steel, a dull knife, and a survival knife.

A great outdoor survival kit I recommend for camping, hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, or just simply for you car on long road trips is the Back Pack First Aid Kit. Everything you need is right here in one easy to carry backpack. Here's what you'll get:

60 Bandages, Assorted (3/4"x3", 1"x3", 5/8"x2 1/4")
1 Bio-Waste Bag
15 Antiseptic BZK Towelettes
3 Cold Packs, Disposable 4"x5"
2 Combine Pads 5"x9"
1 CPR Life Mask
2 Elastic Bandages 3"x5 yds.
2 Eye Pads, Medium
1 Eyewash 4 oz.
1 First Aid Guide
5 Gauze Pads 2"x2" Sterile
5 Gauze Pads 4"x4" Sterile
4 Gloves, Vinyl, Large
5 Hydrocortisone Cream Packettes
2 Pressure Bandages 4"x4" Sterile
1 Rescue "Space" Blanket
2 Gauze Rolls 4"x4yds.
1 Scissors, Paramedic
6 Sting Relief Towellettes
1 Tape 1"x10yds., uncovered
2 Triangular Bandages 40"x40"
10 Triple Antibiotic Ointment Packettes
1 Tweezer

For Campers and Weekend Warriors

If you do plan to go camping a for few days, here are some tips that may help, as being over-prepared is better than being under prepared:

  1. Let people know your destination and when to expect you to return
  2. Take a map and compass, both of which you know how to use
  3. Dress appropriately, using layers to avoid overheating
  4. Take water and water purification tablets or filter
  5. Take food, even high calorie energy or protein bars
  6. Travel at the speed of the slowest member of the group
  7. Stay together
  8. Stay on the trails or roads
  9. If you get lost stay in one place.

In addition to all of these supplies that I recommended, I'd also recommend bringing along an Epipen as well as the situation may call for it, especially when traveling with large groups of people.

How to Find Safe Drinking Water

What Supplies You Will Need

How to Make a Charcoal Purifier

How to Find and Purify Water

One of the first things you want to do when you are in the great outdoors is (besides staying calm and not panicking) is to find water. Humans can go about 30 days without food but only about 3-5 days without water, depending on weather conditions, so it is indeed essential that you make strides to find viable drinking water. Adults are recommended three gallons of water per day to prevent dehydration. As there are several ways of finding and purifying drinking water, here are just a few things you can do:

  • Drinking Water Tablets: This is one of the easiest things to do. You will need a container in order to house your water, like a spring water bottle or canteen. You can find drinking water tablets on-line or purchase them at a camping supply store like EMS, REI, or Cabela's.
  • Bleach: I've read that you can use two-drops of chlorine bleach per one-gallon of creek water. This will destroy the harmful bacteria you find outdoors but will make the water safe for drinking. The first video to the right (TOP) will show you how to go about finding water.
  • Make a Water Purifier: The videos to the right will show you where to find proper drinking water and tell you what supplies you will need in order to make a charcoal purifier to make safe drinking water.

The Importance of Building a Shelter

As I had earlier pointed on the importance of having safe drinking water, the lack of shelter can result in death in a mere hours to just a few minutes after a serious injury. To protect you from wild animals and intermittent weather (drastic weather changes), it is important to seek a means of shelter as keeping warm and dry should be a major priority. If you are fortunate enough, you might be able to find a cave that is unoccupied as a means of shelter, otherwise you could build your own. This video will show you how.

Building a Fire

One great way to insure that you have a fire to warm you is to have with you a a block of flint and steel.  You will also need a dull knife.  I don't recommend using a sharp knife to scrape filings that you will need for other things, as a dull knife will do.  Speaking of which, a great knife to have when outdoors is a Survival Knife.  It has everything you would need to insure that you are prepared for just about anything mother nature will throw at you.

Wilderness First-Aid

Courtesy of saveamericasforests.com
Courtesy of saveamericasforests.com
Several Distress Radio Beacons or Emergency Beacons
Several Distress Radio Beacons or Emergency Beacons

Stress Radio Beacons

Also known as personal locator beacons, Stress Radio Beacons or Emergency Beacons are used as tracking transmitters for boats, aircraft and people who are in distress and in need of rescue. In other words, SRBs and/or EBs are radio beacons that interface with Cospas-Sarsat, the international satellite system for search and rescue. The ability to call for help could be the deciding factor between life and death.

How to Make a Stretcher

There might come a time when while outdoors that a person in you company becomes injured and incapacitated and cannot walk under their own power. In such instances, a make-shift stretcher is needed. Here is a clip on how to build one, taught by boy scouts. My apologies for the audio distortion.

Use branches like these to make a splint
Use branches like these to make a splint
How to make a sling
How to make a sling


Firstly, it is important to stabilize the break with splints, and move the injured party as little as possible unless they are certain to die from lack of shelter or care. The object is to prevent the bone from causing more injuries. If the skin is broken, treat it as a major wound.

Broken ribs are stabilized with tape. A person with a broken arm, collarbone or ribs can often be stabilized enough to walk out, however large amounts of pain indicate this is a bad idea. Waxed cardboard splints are inexpensive, very lightweight, quite waterproof and quite strong.  Crutches or a cane could well be made easily enough when outdoors with a carving knife (to remove nobs or branches) but be wary of rotted or weak wood.

Keep in mind that either of these are only temporary solutions to serious injuries and that professional medical help in the form of an EMT or other professional medical assistant should be sought after immediately.

Raccoons can carry rabies
Raccoons can carry rabies

Bug and Animal Bites

Most animal bites should be considered as possible sources of infection, including rabies. Wash the wound, ideally with povidone iodine. Loosely bandage it, and do not suture it. Know the venomous animals in your area.

Animal bites by carnivores other than rodents should be considered possible cases of Rabies. If you are bitten, try to capture alive or kill the animal and preserve its head. Look for signs of Rabies (foaming mouth, self-mutilation, growling, jerky behavior, red eyes). If the animal lives for ten days and does not develop rabies, then no infection has probably occurred. The head can later be analyzed to detect the disease.

If the animal is gone, prophylactic Rabies treatment is recommended in most places. Certain places, such as Hawaii, are known not to have native Rabies. Treatment is generally available in North America and the Western European states. Away from these areas, try to get to the nearest embassy of one of these states and indicate an acute medical emergency. The embassy doctor is usually willing and able to help.

In Conclusion

There is still more that I wasn't able to cover, such as cuts and lacerations and others, as they are practically self expanatory. With any accidents, injuries, and unplanned incidents, please seek immediate help as time is of the essence. I would also recommend having two-way radios for larger groups and to first check-in with a ranger and/or local law enforcement as to what to do in the case of an emergency.

Happy trails!

P.S. My friend cosette also wrote a fascinating hub titles A Question of Survival which delves into Glenn Beck and the fear of Armageddon shared by the masses. Please have a look!

© Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

Still Crawling Along! (Hub 12/30)

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Comments 34 comments

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

thanks for share. great hub. and great tips also. You have good advice. this is suitable for anyone who like outdoor activity, like hiking, climbing or camping. We need this for emergency and our position far away from hospital or doctor. two thumbs up for you.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you for being the first to comment, prasetio30! I was hoping that someone would read this! I really appreciate your comments. This advice would also work if anyone of us have to leave our homes (due to war, evacuation, etc.). I hope people utilize this hub, as I believe that its useful information.

cosette 7 years ago

wow...if i ever go camping i will print this hub. it is packed with tons of valuable information. i have an old Air Force survival manual and am amazed at what someone can accomplish in a survival setting as long as they keep their wits and are resourceful. GREAT hub!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, cosette. I worked pretty hard on this hub as it involved a lot of research. I knew a lot about Advanced Wilderness First-Aid but needed to learn more. Thanks for the compliment:)

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

dohn, whoah, that's a lot of information. You really know how to be prepared. Very useful information for folks going out into the wilderness. I'm going to link to this hub on my pest proof your campsite hub.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, dolores! I'm going to do the same! Thank you for visiting me.

lisamrcx profile image

lisamrcx 7 years ago from Florida

Nice job! As a camper/hiker originally from New Hampshire I know this information could save the life of the person who wandered of the trail. Very nicely done!!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

I love New Hampshire. Perhaps one day I'll buy a house there. I have yet to experience a New Hampshire winter, but am confident that I can deal with it. Thank you for visiting! I appreciate your comment.

hubpageswriter 7 years ago

Perfect hub!.. the pictures and videos totally enticed me. And you wrote all this well..

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you, I appreciate it, HPWriter! Hopefully none of us will ever HAVE to rely on these tips to survive!

MathewWalters 7 years ago

very well written my friend!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks, Matthew! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Jennifer D. profile image

Jennifer D. 7 years ago from Canada

Fabulous hub on survival! Indispensable information for those who seek the outdoors, whether on occasion or every weekend. Nice to know the information is getting out there to people who can then protect and save themselves. Bravo!

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Ha! Thanks, Jennifer. I'm glad that you liked it. I took a semester learning this and Adult CPR in college, which reminds me that I have to go and get re-certified. Thank you for reading this. I appreciate it.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

I love stuff like this. I do live in "the woods" but am not likely to go wandering off too far. We do hear the stories up here near Yosemite, about some who are not prepared. Still, no matter how prepared you are, 'stuff happens'.

Your best preparation is always in your head. The more you know, the better you can cope.

Good hub-- missed it earlier.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Hi, Rochelle. Thanks for reading this. I learned Wilderness First-Aid while in college and still remember much of it. It certainly does come in handy. Cell phones aren't going to do you any good if you don't have a signal! Thank you.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 7 years ago from California Gold Country

You are right.

In between my house and the nearest town there are at least two "dead zones"... even though I can get a call through from my house to the town. It can be very spotty in mountain and hill areas.

By the way, dont try a cell call in Yosemite Valley-- duh. You are surrounded by beautiful and substantial granite cliffs.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Wow. Then one of those rescue beacons should come in handy, unless Smoky the Bear is on duty, ha ha! I don't think anyone should go into the woods alone anyway, as there really isn't any good reason to.

Leop profile image

Leop 7 years ago

Dohn, this is excellent information. I am going to be adding this to my hiking/camping list. Thank you for pointing it out. Excellent work well documented.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you so much for taking my advice, Leop. I thought you might like it. I'm going to do the same thing for you as well.

outdoorsguy profile image

outdoorsguy 7 years ago from Tenn

great hub. I tend to carry more emergency gear on my trips than I do normal gear. LOL well mostly its all mutlipurpose. I also tend to carry three MREs in the bottom of my pack. so If something happens and Im stuck out there past the day I intended i have food. I Gave up on GPS systems, after having batterys die, or mountians, cliffs or dense woods blocked the sat signal. old fashioned compasses are the best in my book.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Yes, I totally agree with you. Being dependent on technology or electricity or both is not the way to go. There's just too much room for error which any of us, under the circumstances, can ill afford. Thanks for the feedback!

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

Hi DOHN, oh you have all those certifications, CONGRATS,0... I remember you told me that you also drink brewed coffee when in the mountains?? I like to look at people biking along the mountainside, i enjoyed it very much when I went to Australia and just looking at them makes me happy. I must say I can only ride a simple bike. I used to join friends camping in the border of MIssissipi and Tennessee. one hour away from memphis, I used to live there.

Everybody should read this, specially those who are into camping and adventures in the wildreness, it is a complete list,and things you need to know, very helpful indeed,

You made it a very easy read also,

thanks Dohn, Maita

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you Maita. Yes, if ever you decide to go camping, you should let me know so I can come with you ;) You never know when tragedy might strike :D In all seriousness, being out in the wild isn't for everyone. Many things can go wrong, so we always have to be prepared for the worst. Funny that you mentioned mountain biking--I was an instructor while working in New Hampshire (my certifications allowed me to do such work).

I'm glad that you enjoyed it, Maita. Thank you as always.

mtsi1098 7 years ago

I have read this hub a couple of times and am a annual camper. We go to a campground and amusement park every year with friends. I would like to link this hub to my camper hub...thanks again

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

That's absolutely find, mtsi1098! I really like camping too, but don't get much opportunity to do so unfortunately. I would really like to make time very soon, hopefully this coming summer. Thanks so much for visiting me (again).

mtsi1098 7 years ago

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thank you again, mtsi1098! I made the link to your hub. Now we're all set for the camping season!

mtsi1098 7 years ago

Thanks dohn121 - I will fill the cooler :)

Josh EMT 7 years ago

Beautiful article very well put together. I am a volunteer for a group that takes sick children on overnight hiking trips. After each trip my back is out of commission for a few days except the basic first aid kit/trauma bag we are required by the doctors to carry medical supplies for the kids currently going through treatment we carry a fold able stretcher, and an evacuation chair, aka stair chair which is aluminum but still heavy, oxygen tank,and a defibrillator, we have three EMT on each outing and switch loads hourly. but the smiles on this kids faces make me come back. I provided a link above to the site where we buy our supplies from. i would recommend if you do serious hiking to invest in a basic first aid kit especially if you are a group if you need it you will be grateful. p.s. i would include a Epipen in the first aid list for those that need it you can get one from you're doctor.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Hey, Josh. Thank you very much for all the info. I'll be sure to include a link to your site as it would certainly be a benefit to others. An Epipen is something I should have included in the first-aid kit as well! What a great idea. I thank you and appreciate your mentioning of such. I'll be sure to include it into this hub article. Thank you so much for the input.

camalo171 profile image

camalo171 6 years ago

Hey man, Great info. I really enjoyed reading it. I'll definately be back to re-read this agian. Thanks for the knowhow.

Outbound Dan profile image

Outbound Dan 4 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY

Great selection of videos for your hub - fantastic overall guide for backcountry excursions.

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 4 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York Author

Thanks Outbound Dan. Just hearing your comment makes my writing this all the worthwhile. Thank you for reading this!

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