Outdoor Survival Skills: First Aid Basics in the Wilderness

Survival activities in the wilderness are becoming increasingly popular lately. There are tons of reality shows featuring how the contestants grapple with each other in a series of challenges, all while trying to cope with the raging wilderness. And then there’s also the influx of survival movies and games—all these stimulate the people’s fantasy of braving the wild themselves.

Once accidents arise, however, you should also be equipped with proper knowledge. Here are first aid basics you should know when you’re in the wilderness—skills that you can master alongside your CPR classes.

First Aid Kit

Whenever you engage in any outdoor activities, make sure that you have a first aid kit with you. Here are some of the things that should be in your bag:

  • CPR barrier device
  • Nitrile gloves
  • bandages
  • butterfly bandages
  • gauze pads or gauze rolls
  • ace bandage
  • moleskin
  • medical tape
  • antiseptic creams and ointments
  • hydrocortisone cream (for inflammation, redness, and swelling)
  • petroleum jelly or aloe vera
  • wipes
  • alcohol
  • sanitizer
  • soap
  • pain and anti-inflammatory medicine
  • anti-diarrhea medicine
  • antihistamine (for any allergic reactions)
  • flu treatment
  • eye drops
  • tweezers, scissors, safety pins, and knife

The Common Emergencies in the Wild

There are a myriad of illnesses or injuries that can happen in the wilderness. Since you’re far away from civilization, you have to make the most of your first aid kit and first aid knowledge. Be sure you know what to during  these scenarios:

Cuts, Scrapes, and Other Wounds

When you’re out in the wild, it’s highly probable that you’ll encounter a lot of objects with sharp and jagged edges, such as thorns and rocks. The most important thing to do is to prevent infection and to remove debris, if any.

  1. If you’re administering the first aid, wear your gloves.
  2. Apply a gentle pressure on the wound with a bandage, until the bleeding stops.
  3. Wash the wound with running water (fresh urine if water isn’t accessible) to remove any dirt. Carefully pull out large debris using a pair of tweezers.
  4. Clean the skin near the wound.
  5. Apply an antibiotic cream.
  6. For an open wound, use butterfly bandages.
  7. Cover the wound with a sterile bandage.


Minor burns, luckily, are fairly easy to treat.

  1. Place the burned area under cool running water for around 15 minutes, until the pain subsides.
  2. If this isn’t possible, put a wet cloth on the burn, or soak the affected skin in a cool water for at least 5 minutes.
  3. Put a thin layer of treatment (either petroleum jelly or aloe vera).
  4. If necessary, cover the burn with a sterile bandage.
  5. Have the person take pain medication if there’s considerable pain.


In the wilderness, blisters normally appear on the feet.

  1. Wash the affected area.
  2. Carefully drain it. Sterilize a needle or a pin with an alcohol (or place it over a flame).
  3. Apply slight pressure to hasten the drainage.
  4. Apply antibiotic treatment on the area.
  5. Cover it with a moleskin.


This isn’t an unlikely situation, especially if there’s the presence of a rampant river. In case of this emergency, utilize everything you learned from your CPR classes, if you have taken any.

Knee and Ankle Injuries

With the extensive amount of walking, running, and climbing that you have to undertake,  you can expect that, at one point, pain will erupt in your leg and foot area. It might be from your foot slipping, or from overuse, but whatever the reason, it’s essential to address the injury so that you can resume your hike.

  1. Wrap the area with an ace bandage.
  2. Help the person lie down and elevate their legs.
  3. If you can, apply cold compress on the injury.

Key Takeaway

Nowadays, a lot of people are fueled to embark on an electrifying journey to the wilderness, especially after being exposed to various survival-themed media. Although exciting, this kind of activity comes with a great degree of risk, and it’s vital to be fully prepared—equipping yourself with these basic first aid tips is a large step towards making you a more intelligent hiker.

Category : Article | Survival

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