WATERPROOF LINES: it pays to be prepared for emergencies


Twice in the past decades I have had to use the Heimlich maneuver to keep someone from choking.

Once it was a lady in a fancy restaurant, and the second time it was with my fishing buddy around a campfire in the Sierra Nevada. The Heimlich maneuver is just one of the potentially vital things you can learn from the Red Cross Basic First Aid course.

While the great outdoors are statistically much safer than almost any “civilized” environment you can imagine, you are often far from hospitals, doctor’s offices, and emergency care clinics. With that in mind, it pays to be prepared.

One of the most important things to remember is that first aid is temporary in nature and is meant to keep you or a loved one alive until you can get professional medical help.

That being said, here are some tips you might find helpful:

  • Take a basic first aid course.
  • Assemble your own first aid kit that you keep in your vehicle, backpack, or boat.
  • Take emergency shelter, food, and medical supplies with you when you are abroad.

Sometimes my fishing buddies give me a hard time about the amount of stuff I carry in my fishing vest and accuse me of carrying a portable pharmacy with me.

Among the things I wear is a space blanket that takes up very little space in your vest and might just keep you from freezing to death if you’re trapped in a sudden snowstorm.

I also carry a sterile suture kit to sew myself up if I accidentally cut myself. I learned this trick from some old hound hunters who sometimes had to sew their dogs together when they were torn by an angry bear.

In an emergency, you can sew yourself long enough to get to the emergency room

Another great product is a powder called “Bleedstop” which you can buy at any drugstore. Just a few weeks ago, my son slipped while carving a piece of wood and cut his hand badly. We dusted the cut with a bleeding stop and wrapped her hand with gauze until; we could take him to the nearest emergency room, where he had his sewn up properly.

If you ever find yourself in snake land, make sure you have a wonderful first aid product called the “extractor” with you. It costs less than $ 20 and you can find it at any decent drugstore. It creates huge suction and sucks venom from the snake through the holes in the fangs where the snake bites you. It’s small enough to fit in your shirt or coat pocket so you have it with you if you need it.

Other handy items are antibiotic ointment and small bottles of hand sanitizer. Preventing infections abroad is big business, and a few simple precautions can cause a lot of trouble.

I once accidentally caught a 25 gauge ricochet in my gut. It was burning like hellfire, but I managed to survive with no long term effects. Heck, it’s a miracle I survived this long, having basic first aid training and carrying some emergency supplies has kept me enjoying the great outdoors for a long time. You may want to take a few simple precautions yourself.

Whichever way you slice it up, the outdoors is always a lot safer than downtown Chicago or Detroit. Not only that, it’s also a lot more fun.

Until next week,

Tight lines


About Ren Valdez

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