Beyond First Aid: Mountain Style

First Aid Hints

First Aid Hints (Photo credit: Double–M)

Mountain living has its pros and cons.  On the one hand, we have less traffic and less pollution, on the other hand most of us are a twenty minute drive from any supermarkets, pharmacies and hospitals.  On the one hand we cherish the natural and beautiful warmth of our wood burning stoves, on the other hand we grumble at the many hours spent stacking wood, and we still wake up at 4 am when the coals have died out.  We prefer the solitude of nature and don’t mind the occasional wildlife in our yard, but when it snows several feet in March, we are totally isolated.

Are you prepared?

Living year round in the mountains takes more than your average First Aid Kit.  The Red Cross recommends you keep the following items stocked and accessible at all times:

Contents “Be Red Cross Ready” First Aid Kit

  • 3 Triple antibiotic ointment packs, 0.5g each
  • 4 Antiseptic cleansing wipes (sting free)
  • 1 Hydrocortisone pack, 0.9g (topical steroid for rashes and allergic skin reactions)
  • 2 Hand sanitizer packs, 0.9g each
  • 2 chewable aspirin tablets, 81 mg each
  • about 30 adhesive bandages, various sizes
  • 1 Instant cold compress
  • 1 Triangular sling/bandage
  • 1 Trauma pad, 5″ x 9″
  • Gauze, various sizes
  • 1 First aid tape roll, 3/4″ x 5 yds
  • 1 CPR one-way valve face shield, latex-free
  • 1 Thermometer, one time use
  • 2 Latex-free exam-quality vinyl gloves
  • Scissors, 1 pair
  • Plastic tweezers, 1 pair


Does this kit cover the kinds of accidents that you can anticipate where you live?  With the privilege of living in a rural mountain setting comes the responsibility to be aware and prepared for the potential emergencies that may arise.  So start taking notes and act now to make sure that you and your loved ones are beyond “Red Cross Ready” and prepared with the Mountain Style essentials before the snow starts to fly:

  1. Know your risks.  Not everyone in the mountains relies on a wood burning stove, but if you do you should start by checking your fire extinguisher – is it up to code?  Is it in a safe and accessible place?  I would also recommend adding burn cream and blister pads to your kit.  If you chop your own wood, an obvious risk is deep cuts and splinters.  Your kit should include a water syringe to quickly irrigate a wound; steri-strips when a band-aid won’t do; and a non-occlusive (meaning air and water-tight) dressing to keep germs out.  If you commute several miles to work do you have a First Aid Kit, blankets, some instant-heat packs and bottled water in your car?  Think about what you might need in any situation if and when the power goes out, the pipes freeze, or the car won’t start, and prepare accordingly.
  2. Know your neighbor.  As many of us learned during the flooding last September, a good neighbor can be better than a good First Aid kit.  In a pinch we helped each other move furniture to high ground, pulled cars out of sinkholes and made phone calls where we didn’t have reception.  When the roads were closed we shared everything from clothes and blankets to hot meals and re-assuring good company.  Some of us met neighbors we never knew we had, all of us pulled together to keep our community safe and healthy.
  3. Know your skills.  What good is a top-of-the-line professional Backcountry First Aid kit if you don’t know how to use it?  All commercially sold kits contain a “how-to” booklet – read it, and read it again!  Dump out that old, dusty, disorganized Red Cross box, take inventory and put it back together again and ask yourself: do I know how to use this stuff?  What situations might arise where I would need this?  Has any of this expired?  Make a shopping list and include items you don’t usually find in a basic kit: needle and thread, cotton balls, super glue.  Finally, call the Nederland Fire Protection District and ask about volunteering.  Sign up the next time Wild Bear hosts a First Aid and CPR training course.  Your family will thank you, and the random stranger in the B&F parking lot will thank you, too.

Before you settle in for a cozy and peaceful winter this year, take an inventory of your preparedness; update and replenish your First Aid supplies at home, at work and in your car; make a good-will trip to your nearest neighbor; and re-read the instruction booklet that came with your kit.

Stay safe, pay attention and be prepared!  Here’s to Your Health, Arwen

5 Comments on “Beyond First Aid: Mountain Style

  1. This is a great article. I found it as a ‘pingback’ to Think Outside’s entry about wilderness emergency preparedness. I particularly like the suggestion in #2. I’ve recently posted about a wilderness survival training I attended, and the community we formed was very important.

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