With the coming of a new paddling season I thought we could touch on a subject that I feel pretty strongly about. That would be carrying first aid on the river.
I cannot tell you how many other paddlers have stopped us asking for first aid supplies or how many times we have used it ourselves. Numerous times for various issues.
After researching many prepackaged first aid kits, I finally decided it would be more economical to make my own. I was well aware of the things that are most likely to happen and after looking into what prepackaged kits had in them, I was not confident they would serve the purpose in a water situation.
Here is what we have in our kit and why we carry it:
Dry Bag: this holds our first aid supplies
Duck Tape: nothing seals better than duck tape in water. It can be used for boat repair, blisters on your hands, to cover a bandage, to even tape a paddle back together to finish a river (yes, I know this for a fact).
Clean Towel: numerous obvious reasons
1 Roll Of Gauze: to wrap an open wound
1 Stretch Self Sealing Bandage: to cover an open wound and apply pressure. Even though the self sealing part of the bandage will not work well in the water, that’s another use for the duck tape.
Rubber Gloves: you never know if it’s your group or another group you will be assisting with first aid. Protect yourself first!
Folding Scissors: to cut bandages/tape.
Clippers: to cut broken toe nails that occur during portages, to remove a sliver, to cut bandages/tape etc.
Bandaids: Heavy duty bandages are the best for water activity. Again, covered with duct tape.
Antibiotic Spray: nothing will turn your guts more than getting a cut, scrape or broken toenail a mile back on the river and a little further down river finding a dead deer rotting laying half in the river. I know, gross, but again, I’ve been there.
Hydrocortisone Spray: Just in case you rub up against something during a portage or potty break and you start to itch.
Cleansing Wipes: to prepare a wound for bandaging
Ibuprofen: pain, swelling, headache etc.
Clean Empty Ziplocks: for garbage, to protect bloodied bandages until you can dispose of them.
Even though this would not be enough to apply first aid to every member in our group at one time, this is the basics that I believe we could make do with.
I think it is irresponsible to do something like whitewater kayaking without the proper gear. It does not take much to make a first aid kit. And regardless of what you think, it will not take up much room in your kayak. My son has the smallest boat of all three of us and he could fit this in his, so there really is no excuse not to carry first aid.
Thankfully in all our years of kayaking we have never had a serious kayaking accident that required first aid. We have truthfully had more accidents happen during portages or falls on slippery rocks rather than actual paddling. Either way, we are prepared and that is what is important.
Paddle safe and have a great season.