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Stay safe while hiking outdoors

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by Mackenzie Messer

Summer Intern

A great summer activity that is also a nice way to get exercise is hiking. We are lucky to live in the beautiful state of Kentucky where there are many places that everyone can enjoy a hike. However, staying safe on your adventures will make them much more enjoyable.

It can be easy to get hurt while hiking due to the tougher terrain and possible hazardous conditions, especially compared to walking on a sidewalk or track. There are also several other dangers including different plants and insects. This is why it’s important to always carry some sort of first aid kit while going on a hike. It may be easy to carry one in a bag or pack along with the other things you need. A standard first aid kit may include things such as: adhesive bandages, sterile dressings, gauze pads, hand sanitizer, latex gloves, antibacterial ointment, a cold pack, and a CPR breathing barrier. Although a kit does contain many useful items, it would also be a good idea to pack additional things such as antacids, anti-itch ointment, and a pain reliever such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Any time you venture into the woods you are going to encounter plants and insects. Some insects you want to be aware of are mosquitoes, bees, ants, chiggers, ticks, and spiders. Mosquitoes feed on blood and after doing so will cause an itchy bump. They have also been associated with carrying diseases such as West Nile and Zika. It’s important to repel them and you may easily do so by spraying an insect repellent on exposed skin. Bees and some ants will often sting when they are disturbed. They are hive dwelling insects so it’s best to avoid anything that looks like a bee hive or an ant hill. This will help to avoid stings, which is especially important if anyone in your group is allergic. If anyone with you is allergic to bee stings, they should carry an EpiPen with them while hiking. If you have an allergy, this is something else you will want to include in you first aid kit or bag while on your hike. Chiggers feed on skin and after doing so they cause a reaction which is often very itchy. It is best to avoid high grassy areas and weeds. Insect repellent may also help to avoid them. Ticks will attach to your body and stay. It helps to stay out of tall weeds and grass. However, it is a good idea to always search your body for ticks after being outdoors. It also to a good idea to know the types of spiders in the area you are hiking and so that they can be avoided as well.

Plants that you may especially want to avoid are poison ivy/oak. Familiarize yourself with what they look like so that they can be avoided, especially against bare skin. If you do come in contact with one or the other, it may be a good idea to apply an anti-itch ointment or lotion. All of which you should have in your first aid pack.