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Backpacker Magazine – November 2009

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual: Environmental Threats

As much as we try to protect ourselves from extreme elements, sometimes the elements hedge even our greatest efforts. Here's what to do when Mother Nature wins.

by: Buck Tilton, Illustrations by Jackie McCaffrey

The Ultimate First-Aid Manual
Wilderness Medicine Institute cofounder Buck Tilton boils down a lifetime's worth of experience into 62 tips

Photo Tutorials: First Aid Center
From splinting a broken leg to duct taping a bloody wound, the BACKPACKER First Aid Center is an invaluable resource for backcountry first aid.

Altitude Illness
Recognize Feeling hungover? If you've got a headache, nausea, insomnia, lack of appetite, and fatigue–and you're above 8,000 feet–it's probably Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).

Treat Go no higher. Take ibuprofen for the headache, drink lots of water, and do light exercise around camp. If the symptoms don't resolve within 48 hours, descend. Head down immediately if you experience loss of coordination or persistent shortness of breath at rest; it could be a more serious altitude-related condition.

Recognize Cold, pale, numb, and rigid skin means that tissue has frozen.

Treat Rapidly and immediately warm the area in a container of 99°F to 102°F water until skin is pink (it takes about 30 to 45 minutes), monitoring and adding more hot water as needed to make sure the temperature is constant. Give ibuprofen for the pain. Never rub the site or expose it to high heat. If blisters form, protect them from popping. Note: If there's any chance of the tissue refreezing, do not warm the injury. Instead, keep it frozen until you can get the patient to a doctor.

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