Boating injuries are often minor, like a cut from a fishing hook or too much sun exposure. However, even small injuries can become severe issues if they aren’t addressed appropriately. Here are three vital first aid topics to know about.
CUTS AND PUNCTURES
Stop the bleeding first. If the wound is worse than a small injury, you’ll need to apply pressure with a clean cloth or bandage. If the bleeding doesn’t easily stop, continue to apply pressure and seek medical assistance.
Once the wound stops bleeding, use water to irrigate the cut or puncture. This helps to clear out debris and bacteria, which lowers the risk of infection. Don’t use sea water or lake water, as this can introduce new bacteria into the wound. Flush it out for a full minute with fresh, clean water.
Clean appropriately. Don’t immediately put soap inside the wound, as this can irritate the tissue and delay healing. On that same note, don’t use hydrogen peroxide right away.
Apply a clean bandage to the wound. If you have antibiotic ointment, apply a thin layer before bandaging the wound.
Seek help, if you need it. If the wound is large, bleeding heavily, or causing significant pain, seek help.
Look for major symptoms. Rapid and shallow breathing, a weak pulse, nausea, vomiting, hot skin, and altered consciousness are all symptoms of heat stroke.
Bring the victim to safety. Get them into the shade, have them remove excess clothing, and apply ice packs and wet towels to the head and neck. Apply cool water, if possible.
Take preventative measures. Apply sunscreen. Invest in breathable long-sleeved shirts and sunglasses that block both UVA and UVB rays. Wear a protective hat. Stay hydrated with cool liquids, and avoid sun exposure during the middle of the day.
THE FIRST AID KIT
Buy one, or create one. Stow the kit where it can be accessed easily. Make sure it won’t get wet, salty, or destroyed by humidity. Check it once a year to see if it needs to be restocked.
Create an emergency plan. How will you contact the Coast Guard, if necessary? Do you have a working VHF radio? Know when you’ll have cell signal and when you won’t.