Even a short hike can be marred by anything from a bee sting to a twisted knee or broken ankle. The problems can become worse when people aren't prepared, says Perry Whitaker, a local expert on outdoor first aid and wilderness survival.
Whitaker and other experts recommend items to carry and offered a few tips on staying safe on a hike.
First aid kit • Be sure to read the instruction book. Consider buying a first aid kit at an outdoor store where a sales assistant can match a kit to your needs. Kits run from $10 to under $30. Some are good for outdoors or travel. Make sure the kit contains supplies for cuts and scrapes and aspirin. "Kits are priced by how many items they have. But in some, most of the items are bandages. A lot of them just have too many bandages," Whitaker said. He recommended against beginners building a kit; kits will have instructions on outdoor first aid and adding pieces would be pricier than a kit.
Cellphone, GPS • In case you get lost, you can give a rescuer an exact location or rescuers can triangulate your signal. Many cellphones have GPS capability.
Compass, map • Places such as the Steelville, Mo., area that have a lot of iron in the ground can play havoc with satellite communications devices. "And batteries run out," Whitaker said.
Odds and ends • Take along a flashlight, sunglasses, insect repellent, burn cream, itch cream, sunscreen and a pocket knife. For longer hikes, carry extra food, water and clothing.
Water • For safe water, consider iodine pills, at least, in case of a water shortage. Folks at the alpine shop suggested a UV water sterilizer that kills germs and parasites with a UV light (under $50); or a filtering hand pump, (all prices).
Contact • Let someone know when you're supposed to return; check in if you're going to be late.
Fires • Fire starter kits can have flints and sticks, waterproof lighters, waterproof matches and starter fluid.
Bee stings • If you're allergic to bee stings, carry your EpiPen. "I've seen so often, someone will have an anaphylaxis reaction and they don't have their EpiPen," Whitaker said.
Duct tape • A small roll will do the job if you need to construct a splint or even a stretcher.
Whistle • A whistle comes in handy you're incapacitated. Blow on a whistle every few minutes, especially at night, and shorten a search.
Your first aid skill level
If you're an avid hiker or biker, invest in a basic first aid course, Whitaker said. The majority of what's taught is the same as what would be needed on a hike or camping trip.
Classes are offered through the American Red Cross, hospitals and outdoors stores.
Don't be afraid to help others, Whitaker said. Missouri has a Good Samaritan law to protect people from lawsuits if they lend a hand.