5 Medical Tips When You’re Off the Map

Many people who are well prepared in other ways overlook the importance of being able to handle a medical emergency when venturing off the beaten path. Remote areas, especially mountainous ones, can present a challenge. Both weather and distance may make it impossible to leave the area for help. An injury to a limb or an illness could be dangerous and put a person’s first aid skills to the test. Here are five tips for taking care of an injured individual when medical help is not available.


1. Make splints out of branches.

Losing mobility in the mountains can spell trouble. A sprain, strain or broken leg from a fall can make it difficult to bear any weight. For this type of injury, an effective splint can be made from materials found in the area. Branches, sticks of wood or pieces of bark can all be used. As a guide, the limb needs to be splinted to the joint directly above the injury. If a broken foot is suspected, it should be immobilized with a splint up to the ankle. For a twisted knee, apply the splint to the hip. Wrap padding around the injury before splinting to help hold down swelling.

2. Know how to make a tourniquet and wrap an ankle.

A tourniquet will stop bleeding for a short period of time in an emergency situation. It should only be used when direct pressure does not stop the bleeding. When no sterile gauze is available, a roll of tape or a piece of clothing can be used to firmly wrap the injured area.

A makeshift tourniquet can be made from a stick. The stick should be positioned alongside the injury and attached to the bandage with two overhand knots. The stick can then be turned to tighten the bandage and apply more pressure. This provides stability to the wound and will stop the bleeding, but the person’s blood flow will be cut off below the injured area. Learn how to properly apply a tourniquet before the need arises to use one.

3. Provide purified water and food to the injured person.

An injured person could be laid up for a period of time. They must have nourishment so they don’t become weakened or ill. In a remote area, food storage survival kits are ideal in a medical emergency. Survival kits contain either individual water pouches or water purification tablets and high energy food bars.

Lakes and streams now contain too many chemicals and microbes and are not considered safe sources for water. If water pouches are not available, safe drinking water can be prepared using purification tablets. Drop two tablets into one quart of water and wait 30 minutes before drinking. An alternative is to boil the water for between 5 to 20 minutes to kill any microbes or bacteria. Survival energy bars are high calorie, and made to replace a full day’s worth of meals, if necessary.

4. Bring down fever or provide heat.

To treat a fever in a remote area, it’s important to have the individual rest and drink as much water as possible. This replaces fluids and brings down body temperature. Applying cold compresses can also help bring down a fever. Solid food should be avoided until the fever breaks. The person should also be kept warm from a heat source. Studies have shown that body chills during a fever should be treated by being sure the person is covered and kept warm.

5. Consume rice or rice water.

During cases of illness, rice can be used for some medicinal purposes. The properties of rice soothe an irritated stomach and can be used to control diarrhea, edema and blood pressure. Rice water is particularly effective as a remedy for intestinal infections and diarrhea. To prepare, use one part rice to three parts water and boil for 15 minutes. Let it cool, strain and drink.

Author: Lee Flynn

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5 thoughts on “5 Medical Tips When You’re Off the Map”

  1. Another very helpful reminder to us to be prepared in every situation. Always prepared for anything !!!
    Happy Ressurection Rourke! Keep Looking UP

  2. Years ago I sprained my ankle really good, he Medic had some topical pain meds but nothing for a splint. In the military you use your imagination to overcome problems, I used a WW11 style entrenching shovel with the blade turned at 90 degrees and some triangular bandages till we got back to base, a little noisy but it worked.

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