Now that we're all officially emerging from winter hibernation, it's time to get active. But soaking up the summer sun by hitting the hiking trails or cruising around on your new skateboard comes with a small risk of injury.
So no matter what your outdoor adventure of choice is, and how capable you are at it, take a minute to learn how to patch up the inevitable scraped knee or busted-up ankle.
Disinfecting a Cut
Whether you're on a skateboard, a fixed gear, or are just especially clumsy on two legs, let's face it: everyone is bound to fall down at some point. And as you've probably guessed, the old axiom "just rub some dirt in it" is terrible advice.
To clean a wound, first make sure you have clean hands. After you stop any bleeding by applying pressure with a clean cloth, wash it out with cool water to remove any debris. Then disinfect using soap or an antibacterial cream.
If you're heading out for a day on the trails or somewhere else remote that carries a risk of stumbling, make sure you pack the proper gear to put this all into practice.
Healing a Sprain
No one likes to be laid up with a sprain when the sun is shining, but the quickest way to get over one is to RICE it. That's rest, ice, compress, and elevation.
Strained ligaments need rest. Which is to say, give your sneakers some time off until you're properly healed. Yes, it's gonna suck to skip your workouts or bail on your weekend pickup game, but it's the right move.
Chill the area to control swelling. Grab a bag of frozen vegetables or put some ice cubes in a plastic bag, then hold it up against the sprain while you watch some Netflix.
Compress the area. Elastic bandages and wraps made of neoprene work best, and it's not a big deal if they get wet.
Keep the offending ankle or wrist elevated above your heart as much as you can to keep swelling in check.
Stopping a Nosebleed
Whether you take a nasty spill off your bike or just have one of those out-of-nowhere nosebleeds while standing around, knowing how to stop the flow is a valuable skill.
First, resist the instinct to tilt your head back. That will just cause the blood to run down the back of your throat, which is not only gross but dangerous to boot. Instead, pinch your nose right below the nasal bones (where it starts to become soft) and tilt your head forward. This will cut off the bleeding vessels and cause any blood that’s already in your nose to run out the nostrils rather than into your throat.
Removing a Splinter
When you’re spending a lot of time outdoors or doing DIY projects, splinters are sort of inevitable. And while most of them will work themselves out on their own, some of those buggers are a bit more stubborn.
Leaving them in is not only annoying as hell, but can also invite an infection. If any part of the splinter is sticking out, carefully grab it and pull it out with tweezers. If it's buried in the skin, use a needle sterilized with alcohol (that part's important –you don't want to give yourself an infection) to dig it out.
Treating a Burn
Summer means a lot of time spent around campfires and hot grills, and sometimes you end up with more than the s’more or burger you were bargaining for. To treat a minor burn (like when you accidentally singe your fingertips on a cast iron pan or drop a roasted marshmallow onto your leg), your first priority is to get the affected area into some cool (not cold) water.
After about 15 minutes, apply some aloe vera gel to soothe the pain. If your skin blisters, resist the urge to pop those bad boys – you’ll only invite infection. If you do end up with a popped burn blister, clean the area well with soap and water and cover with a loose gauze bandage.
Ideally, you won't have to practice any of this advice – but it's better to know it and not need it than it is to need it and not know it.