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Category: Safe walking

Keeping safe while out walking.

First Aid supplies for walkers

First Aid supplies for walkers

When you set off on your next walk, hike or ramble, you must be sure that you have an adequate First Kid kit with you. A First Aid kit can help you to treat injuries that may occur during the course of your route. Without treatment, many of these injuries could easily become worse. Prompt treatment reduces the chances or infection or more serious damage occurring. It may also mean that the injured party is able to continue to walk on until they are able to reach further medical treatment. In the case of minor injuries, the person may even be able to continue with the route and fully enjoy the rest of their day.

Here is some further information about some of the components which should be included in a basic walker’s First Aid kit. Remember that if you are forced to use any of these components when you are out and about, you should replace them as soon as possible, so that you will have them available to you again next time that you are in need of them.

Antiseptic cleaning wipes

Individually wrapped cleaning wipes are used to clean the area around the wound to remove mud, dirt, blood and any other substance. Cleaning the wound helps to remove foreign bodies from the damaged tissue and helps to reduce the risk of the wound becoming infected at a later time.

Clean the wound gently, rather than scrubbing at it, because scrubbing can cause further damage to the area. If there are any larger foreign bodies embedded in the wound which cannot be removed with your antiseptic wipe, use clean tweezers to extract them before dressing the wound.

Pain relief

Pain relief, such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen, will help to reduce the amount of pain that the patient is feeling from a wound, sprain or headache. Ibuprofen also contains anti-inflammatory agents which will help to reduce any swelling that has occurred. Some people are allergic to certain types of pain medication, so make sure that you check with the other person if you are administering them to someone else.


Antihistamines are used to reduce the effects of an allergic reaction, including itchy, swelling and stinging. They can be used to treat light reactions if walkers have been affected by any allergens during the course of the walk, such as plants or pollen. They can also help to reduce the level of irritation caused by insect bites and stings.

Antihistamines are very useful when travelling through areas of Scotland where midges are present.

Assorted plasters and adhesive dressings

Plasters should be applied to open wounds to help to keep the wound clean until the tissue has healed or until the risk of contamination has been reduced. Breathable, waterproof dressings also prevent the wound from getting wet. When you are choosing an adhesive dressing from your selection, you should pick one that is large enough to cover the whole of the wound. Small wounds (scratches, grazes and light cuts) can be uncovered once you are home. This will allow them to breathe properly during the healing process.

Crepe bandages

Crepe bandages or tubular bandages seek to offer light compression to areas which have been strained or sprained. This helps to minimise swelling and offer additional support to the injured area in order to reduce further strain. They are normally reserved for knee, ankle, wrist and elbow injuries. If the sprain or strain is more severe, then you may need to seek further medical assistance onsite rather than trying to use one of these bandages.

Triangular bandage

A triangular bandage can be fold in various ways to enable it to be used as support for a broken, strained or sprained body part. The most common use of a triangular bandage is to act as a support for a broken arm or wrist. It can be folded up so that it ties around the neck and creates a sling which keeps the arm bent at a right angle.


Gauze is used to help to reduce blood loss in people who have been suffered larger wounds. Applying pressure to the wounded area with gauze can help to slow or stop the blood flow.

Surgical Tape

Surgical tape is used to hold any non-adhesive dressings in place. It may be used to temporarily attach gauze to the wound site to slow bleeding.

Blister Packs

Blister packs are an important part of a walker’s first aid kit, because blisters are one of the most common types of injuries amongst walkers. Good blister treatments clean the affected area and then help to relieve the pressure in the affected area. This should reduce the friction as the walker continues on their path and can prevent the blister from becoming worse over time. It will also reduce discomfort for the walker.

First Aid for walkers

First Aid for walkers

Anybody who spends time doing outdoor activities is advised to learn basic first aid so that they can treat themselves or their companions if there is an emergency scenario. Administering first aid can help to minimise the impact of the problem and may allow that person to continue on until they are able to receive proper treatment. Alternatively, first aid can be used to help to stabilise a situation until help arrives.

Assessing a situation

Before administering any treatment, you should stop what you are doing and take the time to assess the situation. Check whether the danger is still present and take any steps that are required to mitigate risk. If there is more than one casualty in a situation, work out who needs your help most urgently.

It is worth noting that the person who is shouting the loudest may not be the one who is in the most need; a quiet casualty could be slipping in and out of consciousness.

Contacting the emergency services

If the situation is serious, you may need to contact the emergency services. Even if you do not have a phone signal with your preferred network, you should be able to use your phone to call 999 using any available network. If there is no phone signal at all in the area, then you should send another uninjured party (two if possible) to get help, but do not leave the casualty alone. You should also try to attract attention using six short whistle blasts.

Heart attack

It is possible that someone who you are walking with may experience a heart attack whilst you are midway through a route. It is possible that you may not be close to civilisation when this occurs.

Symptoms of a heart attack can include a vice-like pain in the chest, and pain which spreads through the arms, stomach, neck and jaw. This pain will not stop or ease when the person stops to take a rest. Call 999 immediately if you are able to. Get the walker to sit down in a comfortable position propped up against a tree or another walker. Give them an aspirin from your First Aid kit and get them to slowly chew it. Continue talking to them until help arrives. If they lose consciousness, you should not attempt any further First Aid unless you have had formal training or if you are being advised to do so by a qualified medical professional.


Hypothermia occurs when the core temperature of the body drops below a certain level. It tends to occur because of prolonged exposure to the cold, but it is exacerbated if the person has been confined to wet clothing.

Early signs of hypothermia include their skin becoming pale and cold to the touch, and uncontrollable shivering. They may start to become confused or disorientated. You should call 999 and then begin to take steps to warm the person up. Cover them in a warm blanket or give them additional warm, dry clothes if there are any available. If possible, brew them a warm drink and help them to consume it if necessary. High energy foods like chocolate will also help to give the body more energy to try to raise the internal temperature. Do not rub the person to try to warm them up, because this can be harmful.

Strain or sprain

Sprains and sprains are some of the most common walking injuries. They are more likely when you are walking over uneven or unstable ground.

Strains and sprains are characterised by pain in the affected area, followed by swelling or bruising. Apply a mobile first aid instant ice pack to the injured area and get the person to rest for a while. If the affected area is on the ankles or lower limbs, see if the person is able to walk to an area which can be reached by road. A support bandage may be applied to help. Seek medical attention if the person is unable to keep walking.


If a person is bleeding lightly, you should take steps to stop the blood flow and reduce the risk of infection. Clean the area with an anti-bacterial wipe and remove any foreign objects from the wound. Apply an appropriately sized dressing to the wound.

For people who are bleeding more heavily, you will need to take additional steps to stop or slow the blood flow. Apply pressure on to the wound with a clean object if possible. Alternatively, apply pressure with whatever is available. Call 999 to get help for the person and stay put unless you are advised to continue moving. Asking the person to move will increase their heart rate which could end up causing the blood flow from the wound to increase.