I know what you’re thinking. I’m an adult and therefore shouldn’t need to be told not to pee on things. Much like I shouldn’t have to tell you that it’s not okay to intentionally pee in inappropriate places. With maybe one exception…
How many of you reading this think that the best way to neutralise a Jellyfish sting is urine? Anyone remember this episode of Friends?
As it turns out, most of the common myths on how to treat a jellyfish sting — vinegar included — are wrong! I discovered this and other fun facts during a recent Wilderness First Aid course with the brilliant Steve Blethyn. I love surfing and open water sports in general and I know so many of you share the same affinity for our oceans, so for anyone else wanting to be a bit better prepared about those nasty stings, check out Steve’s blog here.
A lot of First Aid is common sense and I think most people at some point have completed a First Aid at Work course. However, the challenges I now take on often take me miles away from potential medical services and frequently cover unforgiving terrain.
Social media is ripe with encouragement to head out and explore — which I absolutely agree with! We live on an incredible planet and I really do think we should all spend more time outside enjoying it and less time in front of our various screens.
But, we should also be responsible. Bites, dehydration, heat exhaustion, hypothermia, bleeding, burns and any other number of injuries and accidents have the potential to very quickly escalate when you’re far from help. For my own peace of mind, I decided it was time for a refresher course.
To me, doing this 2 day course was less about the extreme scenarios of severe blood loss and broken bones — although useful, I’d like to think the likelihood of things like that happening are pretty low…
It was more about the almost commonplace dangers that often get dismissed that we all really do need to consider. Top of the list? Tick bites.
Given how much time I spend outside I’ve no idea how I’ve gone this long without getting bitten by a tick and I really hope that continues but ticks are unfortunately on the rise. Until recently I was fairly naive about them. For something so very small they really do pack a big punch so I feel they’re worth a mention here.
Ticks, unlike mosquitoes, can carry multiple diseases. The most well known of which is Lyme Disease, which although is carried in a relatively few number of ticks (only 2–6% of ticks in 2017 had the pathogen, depending on location), it’s still worth taking seriously. Knowledge is key here — the sooner you catch it, the better. Lyme disease can often be treated effectively if detected early on. If it’s left untreated severe long-lasting symptoms can develop including heart problems, paralysis, meningitis, arthritis, severe headaches and chronic fatigue syndrome!
It’s worth mentioning here that if you’re removing a tick, make sure you use a specially designed tick remover — if you cause the tick any stress by squeezing them (/accidentally dismembering them) they then vomit, spreading the diseases they carry! Lovely!
I’d also like to once again emphasize that in many years of camping/trail running/wild swimming/hiking and generally roaming the planet I (and many other adventures & outdoor enthusiasts I know) have never been bitten by a tick. However, I also know of a famous rugby player who got bitten in Chiswick Park in London whilst training. So you see it really isn’t just an issue for those of us who have a penchant for hanging out in the wilderness.
This blog isn’t designed to scare and none of this should ever discourage you from getting outside. The health benefits, both mental and physical, far outweigh any risks. I just wanted to spread a little awareness — better safe than sorry, eh?
The usual and perhaps more familiar first aid topics were also covered on the course — heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, choking, seizures. The list goes on! All skills I hope I never have to use, but I’m very glad to have.
If you’re looking to do a First Aid course then I can’t recommend Steve enough -as entertaining as he is knowledgeable (extremely). He also offers bespoke courses for those heading into extreme environments (polar, desert and mountains included!) — check him out here: www.beyondfirstaid.co.uk/