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You Injured Yourself Hiking

Let's face it, hiking around in nature carries with it inherent dangers. Everything from twisted ankles to broken bones or worse. Knowing this, and being thinking beings, we plan for that contingency and take steps to prevent injuries. However, things happen. So now you've been injured, what to do?

Assess the situation: If you are injured, stop and take a moment to assess the situation. Determine the severity of your injury and whether you are able to continue hiking. If you are unable to continue, it's important to stay put and wait for help. Review the equipment you have with you. What can you use to stabilize the injury? What can you use to call for help?

Stay calm: It's important to stay calm if you are injured while hiking. Panic can make the situation worse and can hinder your ability to make good decisions. Take deep, slow breaths and try to remain calm until help arrives. Panic destroys thinking. Thinking is how our species survives and overcomes. Calm yourself and think things through.

Seek help: If you are unable to continue hiking and your injury is severe, it's important to seek help. Use your phone or other communication devices to call for help, and provide as much information as possible about your location and the nature of your injury. If there is no cell phone reception, can you send a text message? If not, use your whistle to call attention to your location. Lost your whistle? Bang two rocks together and shout out for help.

Treat your injury: If your injury is minor, you may be able to treat it yourself. Use first-aid techniques to clean and dress the wound, and take pain medication if needed. If your injury is more severe, you're going to have to do the best you can with what you have while you wait for professional medical help. I strongly recommend taking a Wilderness First Aid course at least once.

Stay warm and comfortable: If you are injured and unable to continue hiking, it's important to stay warm and comfortable until help arrives. Use a first-aid kit or other supplies to create a makeshift shelter. This is especially true when the weather is either cold and wet or hot and dry. Hypothermia or dehydration will only make a bad situation worse.

Coming back to the idea of prevention: bring along the Ten Essentials, check out the trail conditions and weather before you go, stay on the trail, and use the most important tool you bring on every outdoor adventure, thinking. :)

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