First Aid For Climbers

Climbing is a sport that is exhilarating and exciting. When you’re climbing, professional medical aid is usually too far away. It’s important to be aware of how to treat minor injuries and ailments so they do not become serious.

First off, make sure you pack a first aid kit that is lightweight but still contains the essentials. Antibiotic ointment and gauze is lightweight and can prevent minor scrapes and cuts from becoming infected. An anti-inflammatory such as aspirin or ibuprofen is not only good for inflammation but also headaches.

It’s important to carry a small amount of sterile water with you so you can clean scrapes and cuts. Many climbers drink sport drinks to keep hydrated but these can not be used to clean wounds. Natural water sources may not be in close proximity and many of them contain bacteria that may cause more problems; water from these sources should only be used as a last resort.

Sunburn is not only painful but since your skin blocks against invasive organisms, it’s imports to use sunscreen. A sunburn can also make movement painful and dehydrate you. Remember that you can burn just as easy in cool climates or cold weather and if there is snow then your chances are even greater.

AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) occurs when you ascend too quickly in high altitudes where there is less oxygen. It’s important to know the signs and how to treat it. It can lead to more serious altitude sickness.

It’s also beneficial to know basic first aid which is usually covered in climbing classes. These classes will cover various topics; everything from the Heimlich maneuver to how to make a sling and carry a fellow climber with an injured ankle. They will even show you more complicated first aid such as how to tell a fracture from a compound fracture and what to do in each case.

Knowing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or CPR can be the difference between life and death. The procedure is simple and short classes are offered in most areas and are many times free. They may be available through a YMCA, an employer, or a community center.

Treating common climbing ailments such as heat stroke, AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and frostbite is also important. It doesn’t require a great deal of medical knowledge but learning some simple prevention and treatment methods will go a long way. For example, frostbite can be treated by simply covering the exposed tissue and heating it with warm water.

Knowing basic first aid and how to treat and prevent climbing related injuries and ailments is important. It will ensure you enjoy this exhilarating sport.

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