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First Aid at the Fork

| Curtis Carman

First Aid at the Fork

By Interpretive Ranger Warren Maddox

The Parklands of Floyds Fork is a great place to get out and get active. However, much like any other activity you choose to do, there are inherent risks involved. In this article, we will cover some of the most common outdoor injuries and how to treat and prevent them so you can enjoy yourself worry free at the Fork.

While participating in the recreation at the Parklands you are most likely to encounter a common wilderness injury on your skin. Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac grow in all of the lower 48 states. Urushiol is the oil transferred to the skin from the surface of the plant. Individual reactions to the oil may vary. The oil can be transferred even when the plant does not show the traditional three shiny green leaves in bloom, sneaky buggers. Avoid inhaling smoke from these plants, which can also cause an adverse reaction. Signs and symptoms of an exposure to Urushiol oil are:

(NOLS WMH 15, p95)

     How to treat an exposure:

  1. Wash the area immediately after exposure with soap and cool water. If you have a history of severe reactions you may consider using Tecnu or Zanfel as a soap
  2. Wash all clothes and equipment that may have been exposed
  3. Apply a thin layer of 1% hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to reduce itching.
  4. Oral antihistamines may help reduce itching

(NOLS WMH 15, p95)

 Avoiding exposure to urushiol oil is your best way to prevent reaction. Learn to recognize poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac and consider barrier creams for those with a history hypersensitivity.

Nothing takes fun in the sun to bumsville faster than a bad sunburn. A “sunburn” or “suntan” is a sign of toxicity after being exposed to UV radiation. The long term risks of Ultraviolet exposure can include premature aging of the skin and even skin cancer. The signs and symptoms of sunburn are:

(NOLS WMH 15, p95)

     Sunburn treatments:

  1. Cool the burn
  2. Apply skin moisturizer or aloe vera gel
  3. Consider pain medication
  4. Hydrate
  5. Avoid further sun exposure

(NOLS WMH 15, p95)

     Here are a few methods to avoid sunburn : 

(NOLS WMH 15, p95)

Blisters or hotspots, we’ve all had them and we all hate them. If you haven’t had one, then you hate it and just don’t know it yet. Blisters/hotspots are friction burns on the skin that eventually create a small pocket filled with body fluid. It sounds more gross than it is but should be taken care of properly to avoid further injury of infection. Treatment principles for hotspots are:

  1. Pad with moleskin, duct tape, athletic or other medical tape as a buffer against further rubbing.
  2. Paper tape, or a lubricant under the medical/ duct tape can prevent the skin from tearing when the tape is removed. The stickier the tape, the more the risk of tearing.
  3. Try any of the modern blister prevention products. Blist-o-Ban or similar products work well

(NOLS WMH 15, p96)

     Treatment for blister:

  1. Clean the blister and surrounding skin to prevent infection and help the tape stick.
  2. If you think the blister might burst, (usually nickel sized or larger), drain it.
  3. Bandage open blisters with a Moleskin donut hole filled with 2nd skin or antibiotic ointment.
  4. Cover closed blisters with 2nd skin, Blist-o-Ban or similar product.
  5. Cover with duct, medical, athletic tape, or Moleskin.

(NOLS WMH 15, p96)

     You can prevent blisters by treating hotspots early. Hotspots are not a warning sign, they are a problem.

Other prevention methods include; ensuring your socks are free of debris, consider wearing liner socks and make sure your footwear fits properly.

If you are the unlucky individual fishing for a big catch and instead you hook yourself, there are a couple of methods to remove the hook that might work well for you.

  1. Attach a 12-inch piece of string around the cure of the hook. Simultaneously push down on the eye of the hook and pull the string along the axis of the hook. The hook should come out easily.
  2. If unsuccessful, numb the skin and push the point of the barb through the skin. Snip off the barb and back the hook out.

                

Another problem we can run into in the Parklands is splinters. Here are 3 ways to remove that pesky piece of wood.

  1. Press on the deep end of the splinter to push it towards the entrance wound.
  2. Grab the exposed end of the splinter with tweezers and gently pull it out.
  3. If the splinter is deeply embedded, gently cut the overlying skin with a sterile blade until you can remove the splinter.

(NOLS WMH 15, p96)

Hopefully this list of ailments and treatments can help you further enjoy your experience at the Parklands of Floyds Fork.

 

Resources: NOLS Wilderness Medicine Handbook 15th edition pg 95-96

 

About the Author

Picture of Curtis Carman

Curtis Carman

Curtis, hired as Education Coordinator in March 2015, previously served as an Interpretive Ranger for the Parklands. As Education Coordinator, Curtis oversees programming and staffing for The Parklands Outdoor Classroom, based in the PNC Acheivement Center for Education and Interpretation. A native of Louisville and a graduate of Ballard High School, Curtis returns to Louisville after having worked as an environmental educator in Maine and Colorado at Acadia and Rocky Mountain National Parks. Curtis also served as Membership Manager at the Rocky Mountain Conservancy. Curtis enjoys hiking, biking, camping and kayaking.

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