The first three articles I have posted are more to do with helping the traveler avoid unnecessary risks in order to ensure maximum safety and enjoyment. As the world becomes a smaller place we are all venturing further in a shorter time, on a recent working trip I have been overland in eight countries in three days; much of the traveling at night. This type of traveling demands a certain mindset as you can’t ‘switch-off’ at any time; this can have a detrimental affect on your health unless you stay on top of the situation.
The increasing security when traveling by air affects us all, with tighter restrictions often causing problems later on with reduced equipment. A compact First-Aid kit is important to the traveler that likes to ‘go light’ but has many security restrictions. If you travel with hold luggage you can take what you like within reason but if you are traveling with hand baggage only it can leave you with less than you may feel comfortable with in the First-Aid department.
I have a little First-Aid kit that I have put together for trips that require air travel when taking only hand baggage; this goes through airport security without any problems. It is not substantial by any means but anything is better than nothing in these situations. As is so often the case it is the underlying knowledge that is the key and the sharpness of mind that allows you to adapt the things around you to assist with the situation. Keeping your health in good shape is always paramount but as a lone adventurer traveling light it becomes critical as you are completely self-reliant. Sometimes the unthinkable happens and these situations have to be dealt with at the time on an ‘if and when’ basis. Let’s now take a look at the basic things that may affect us and why.
These are often brought on by two things, the first is dehydration; remember, the human body needs at least two liters per day under normal circumstances. This will be increased if you are in air-conditioned areas that produce dry air, you will lose more fluid if you are not relaxed, you are likely to drink less fluid due to a changed routine, you may also reduce your fluid intake to avoid urgently needing a toilet and high humidity will also make you sweat more. A simple way to check your hydration level is by looking at your urine; it should be a light straw color, the darker it is the more dehydrated you are (experience has taught me not to exercise this practice in the airport lounge). The second is that remaining ‘switched-on’ for long periods can cause mental stress; this type of stress will reduce as you get better at being aware without thinking about it all the time.
Your number two’s!
A change in routine and diet can, and often does affect your system and normal timetable. This doesn’t affect everyone and can generally be adjusted by the things that you eat; you need to stay on top of this (metaphorically speaking). Senokot tablets will deal with this in a natural way should it be required. Anything that plays on your mind can reduce your ability to remain alert and will obviously reduce your enjoyment.
You will always get cuts and grazes and although not generally life threatening a few plasters will stop the blood getting on to your clothes and making it look like you’ve been through a shredder. You may have limited washing facilities and blood can be difficult to remove unless done quickly.
We all get dust and grit in our eyes but an infection through rubbing the grit into your eye will render you almost useless. Flush it out rather than rubbing it.
Water is always a top priority and should not be overlooked; a mistake here can get you hospitalized. Unless you know the water to be safe, either stick to sealed bottled water or treat it.
What’s in the box?
- Sterile dressings. For deep cuts etc.
- Plasters. For normal stuff.
- Water purification tablets. If you don’t trust the water… Treat it!
- Cleansing wipe. To clean up cuts and grazes etc.
- Pre-Injection antiseptic swab. Just in case you have to dig anything out.
- Latex gloves. If you can’t clean your hands first or need to deal with someone else.
- Dioralyte electrolyte powders. To aid rehydration.
- Nylon cord. For all sorts of things
- Sterile eye washes. To flush out grit and dust but they can also be used to flush out deep cuts etc.
- Senokot tablets. To make you go!
- Imodium tablets. To make you stop going!
- Paracetamol tablets. For general stuff
- Ibuprofen tablets. to be used as an anti-inflammatory. Avoid on an empty stomach or if you suffer from asthma.
- A tampon. If you are male and they catch you with this item at airport security it’s best to quickly realize that you are now in a hole (sorry, no pun intended); the best advice I can give here is based on many years of experience and is this… Don’t dig it any deeper, just grin, wink and put your stuff away. If you fall in wooded areas the injury can often be a puncture wound, if it’s bleeding heavily a tampon with a dressing over the top should suffice until you can sort it out properly. Also, if you feather-up a small part of the tampon you will find that a small spark will ignite the material easily in a survival situation; this will burn like a small log to give your kindling a good start.
- A SAM splint. This is separate and tucks inside the inner sleeve in the rucksack where the padding is and is used to immobilize injured bones and soft tissue.
Quantities are adjusted to what you may think you’ll need (don’t get carried away) as are the contents but it should give you a good start. I never have a problem getting this through airport security and it doesn’t take up much room. You will notice that there are no bandages, these can be made out of a T-Shirt if required. The box itself is 350 ml, so if you need to treat water on the move and have no other container, do it this way. Powder one tablet and put one third of it in a container full of water, put the top on, shake it and leave for 15 mins. before drinking… Do this three times to use the tablet.
A small First-Aid kit will always be a compromise and the things you do may not be the correct things to do if the situation were different and you had more gear; however, First-Aid is a temporary repair to improve as much as possible the current situation. Don’t expect to conduct open heart surgery with this First-Aid kit (you’ll need the next box up).
Hope you’ll never have to use this kit but it needs to be with you. Enjoy yourselves.