The Adrenalist

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First Aid Guide For Adventurers



As much as we’d like to think we’re indestructible, we’re not. No matter how many push-ups we do, marathons we run, or boards we kickflip, the hard truth is: we’re human and we still bleed.

Should that realization slow us down? No. Should it make us take extra precautions to ensure we’re prepared before venturing out to climb the highest mountains and ski the steepest slopes? Absolutely.

With that in mind, we’ve plucked four of the most likely ailments you’ll encounter while being the spectacular Adrenalist that you are. We’ll tell you how to conquer them as seamlessly as you free solo that Yellowstone rock face. As a disclaimer, this feature should in no way be viewed as a cure all. Risks of living life on the edge far outnumber the snags and remedies we’ve outlined below but our mini-compendium should get you off to a darn good start.

Insect BitePhoto Credit: Keith T. Robinson /

Stings and Bites

We’re sorry to hear if you’ve been stung or bit by an insect. Mainly because we know how painful the experience can be, but not because you’re in any real danger, for the most part. Terrifying as they sometimes appear, the truth of the matter is: most insect bites and stings are nothing to write home about in terms of their severity. Unless, of course, you have an allergic reaction. If you know you’re allergic to a certain type of bite or sting, make sure to carry medicine to combat anaphylaxis. If you’re not sure, it’s always good to have an extra Epipen on hand just in case.

If you’re stung, remove the stinger with a straight-edged object (not a tweezer, as they’re often ineffective in removing the full length of the stinger), wash the area with soap and water, rinse thoroughly for about 5 minutes, apply ice wrapped in a clean piece of paper towel or gauze to the affected area, and then spread on some anti-itch cream, if you’ve got it. If bitten, do everything but remove the stinger. Then, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Try to get a good look at the offending species so you can describe its appearance to medical personnel. While most bites are relatively harmless, some, like those inflicted by the fangs of the black widow spider, can be deadly. For your sake or your travel companion’s, you’ll want to have some idea of what kind of bite you’re dealing with.


Knee or Ankle Sprains

There’s nothing like bounding down a mountain, zealously avoiding boulders and rocks, while basking in the freedoms of a sunny fall day. That is, until you sprain your ankle really bad. In that event, or in the event that you sprain another body part (knee sprains are also awfully common), you follow the R.I.C.E. protocol.

First, rest. If you’re out adventuring, this is going to be difficult to do, but try. As soon as the sprain occurs, take a break, and start toward home as soon as you feel up to it. If the sprain’s serious, and there’s significant swelling, have someone you’re with go get some help. If you’re alone, yell or send a distress call. The second step consists of icing the injured area for 15-20 minute intervals, about eight times per day or until swelling subsides, whichever happens first. Third, compress the sprained body part with elastic wrap or a bandage to reduce swelling. Fourth, elevate your leg above your heart. This will limit blood flow to the affected area and reduce swelling.

Lastly, seek medical attention as soon as possible, especially if you’re unable to put any weight on the afflicted appendage. What about shoulder sprains? Those are bad too, yes, but you don’t use your arms to run to safety.

Scrape Photo Credit: phoosh /

Flesh Wounds

Sometimes, you get a cut. If it’s just a scrape you’re in luck. Put some antibacterial ointment on if you’ve got it, carry on, and tear things up. If that cut just won’t stop bleeding, don’t panic. First, apply pressure with a clean paper towel or gauze pad. This should stymie the proverbial geyser, even if temporarily. Next, elevate the wound above your heart. Just like with a sprain, you want to limit blood flow to an area where there’s already a lot of blood. If after a couple of minutes the bleeding hasn’t subsided or stopped, apply an ice pack over the paper towel or gauze. The cold will cause the blood vessels to contract and they’ll stop pumping so much fluid out. For most cuts, bleeding will stop within 15 minutes or so, provided there’s continued icing and pressure applied.

If it does, wash the wounded area with anti-bacterial soap, rinse it for 2 minutes or so, dry it with a new paper towel or piece of gauze (don’t use a towel, they’re bacteria breeding grounds), apply antibacterial ointment, and cover the affected area with a sterile bandage. Continue to ice and take aspirin if necessary. If the bleeding won’t stop after that initial 15-minute interval, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Rest Photo Credit: oatsy40 /


Worry not, fevers are rarely anything to be overly concerned about. If you get one, you probably already know how to deal with it. Stay hydrated, rest, take Advil or aspirin and so on and so forth. If you (or someone you’re adventuring with) have a fever over 103 degrees Fahrenheit, and that fever lasts more than 72 hours, it’s time to seek medical attention. In the event that you’re unable to do so immediately, be sure to take aspirin, drink fluids (chew ice chips if you can’t keep fluids down), and sponge yourself with lukewarm water for 20 minute intervals. Wrap up in warm clothing in between.

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