Bandaids? Check. Gauze? Check. EPIPen? Check.
Having a camping first aid checklist – and making sure it’s complete before you head into the hills – is one of the first steps you can take toward comprehensive backcountry safety. Even if you and your group always put safety first, the mountains come with their own agenda, circumstances and conditions, sometimes hours from emergency medical services. This summer, make sure you have a first aid kit tailored to your family’s needs. It doesn’t have to be big, bulky and cumbersome; Aspen Ambulance Chief of Emergency Medical Services and Critical Care Paramedic Gabriel Muething outlines some summer safety tips and first aid kit essentials. To make sure you’re prepared, review these camping first aid must-haves.
Essential Camping First Aid Kit Items
While each person’s first aid kit should be tailored the length and conditions of the trip, as well as to any specific medical needs, such as an EPIPen if someone in the group has a known insect allergy, there are some basic first aid kit items no trail trekker should leave home without, including:
- Adhesive bandages
- Gauze pads
- Medical tape
- Antibacterial ointment
- Antiseptic wipes
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Disposable gloves
Additionally, it’s important to have general medications on-hand when camping. Before you leave the house, make sure you have the following in your camp first aid kit:
- Personal medications
- Pain relievers (for both adults and children if traveling with kids under 12)
- Anti-diarrheal medication
- Antihistamines (for both adults and children if traveling with kids under 12)
- Eye drops
- Insect repellent
- Aloe gel or other treatment for sunburn
For longer journeys that take you and your group farther from medical care, consider packing the following additional camping first aid supplies:
- CPR face shield
- Elastic wrap bandage
- Instant cold pack
- Heating pad
- Burn gel
- Sterile saline solution
- Medical scissors
- Splint device
These emergency equipment items might not always be packed away in your camping first aid kit, but they should be part of your safety checklist.
- Emergency whistle
- Flashlight or headlamp
- Extra batteries
- Matches or lighter
- Multi-tool knife
Important First Aid Information While Camping
Some additional steps you can take before leaving on your summer adventure can help ensure you and your group stay on the radar, even when you venture off the grid. Before you go:
- Make sure someone has an emergency contact list for you and your group.
- Pack a first aid manual that outlines basic backcountry first aid techniques and safety. Consider getting your manual laminated so it can withstand mountain rains and any other contact with the elements.
- Know the location of your nearest Aspen Valley Hospital emergency department or clinic, and make sure the others in your group do, too.
- Read up on campsite cooking, food prep, and fire safety, and make sure to pack hand soap and hand sanitizer to avoid any food-borne illnesses while camping.
The sun is shining, the snow has melted and the Colorado Rockies are calling. We get it; it’s time to head into the hills for some summer camping and backpacking fun. Building a proper camping first aid kit will add an important level of safety and preparedness to your outdoor adventures. If you’re not sure how to customize your first aid kit, local sporting goods stores, guides and outfitters can be a great place to start. If you’re still unsure, reach out to your fire department and emergency medical services providers, and if you suffer from chronic illness or life-threatening allergies, make sure to talk with your doctor before leaving for your next camping excursion.