Prepare for the unwanted E.R. visit.
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Seasonal Reminder: Dress for the weather, not the car.

You can't always avoid the emergency room. But there are simple things to do that can make the best of a bad situation. Click here for tips to deal with trauma (e.g., broken bones, bleeding, etc), chest pain, abdominal pain, respiratory difficulty, and high fever. More info....

Click here for a listing of first-aid essentials for home, car, pack, or trek.

Finding Firewood

´╗┐Firewood is always a challenge, especially during wet or wintery conditions. Click for a tip...

Wildland Safety.

Always be prepared for survival situations.

 Be Safe Out There. Driving to the trailhead, hiking along the trail or bushwhacking and camping in the backcountry need some special techniques and good equipment. Keep your tent, sleeping bag, backpack and other gear in tip top condition.

Wildlife needs your respect, especially if you are part of their food chain. Learn to incorporate preventative techniques in your normal routine and you’ll not need to be apprehensive while in bear or cougar country.

Safe drinking water is one of your main concerns. Water filters and water purifiers provide safe and convenient water wherever you are.

To fully enjoy the great outdoors you must feel safe and secure. Whether you're new to the wildlands or have spent several years trammeling about, learning or reviewing safety tips is always beneficial.

Be aware of hypothermia whenever in cool, moist windy situations.

So pack up your tent, sleeping bag, and camping gear on your pack frame and get out there. 

NOTE: Please click on bolded words for additional safety information< ><-->

Be safe. Think. Be prepared.

You can’t prevent every trip from the back country to the emergency room, but simple steps can keep you safer – or save your life when the worst happens.

To help you keep out of the ER, you should get ongoing care from a primary physician who may be able to catch small problems before they escalate. Plus, maintain a fitness program to keep in good shape.

Don’t hesitate going to the ER if you are experiencing bleeding you can’t stop, gaping wounds, breathing troubles, chest pain, extreme pain, vomiting that will not stop, extremely high fever or suicidal thoughts.

When it comes to preventing and coping with the most common ER problems, here’s the advice from medical experts.


Prevention: Use seat belts, bike, motorcycleor equestrian helmets when you ride. Practice safety measures around water.

Before heading to the ER:

  • Immobilize broken arms and legs with a straight object wrapped alongside the bone with a bandage. Create a sling for an arm with a large cloth pinned with a safety pin over the shoulder.
  • Put an ice pack on any area that is swelling.
  • Stop bleeding with pressure. Apply gauze and wrap the bandage around the gauze.
  • Be aware that anyone taking blood thinners is at increased risk for excessive bleeding and should share that information with the ER staff.
  • Know the signs of concussion and get checked out immediately if the person shows signs of headache, nausea, confusion or slurred speech after hitting his head.
  • Use CPR immediately on someone who doesn’t have a pulse. Each second without oxygen can cause permanent damage to the organs.

Chest pain

Prevention: Maintain a healthful lifestyle, and don’t be a weekend warrior who exercises inconsistently. See your family practitioner regularly and be aware of your stroke and heart attack risk. Sweating and shortness of breath are red flags for a serious problem.

Before heading to the ER: Call 9-1-1 and get to an ambulance, where technicians can help if your condition worsens. Baby aspirin helps thin the blood, which can avoid clots in most cases but can make things worse if the problem is aortic dissection, or bleeding of the main artery from the heart.

Abdominal pain

Prevention: Make good food choices, because abdominal pain can be caused by indigestion. If it is, over-the-counter stomach medication may offer relief.

Pain can also be caused by food poisoning, appendicitis, diverticulitis, inflammation or colitis. Expectant mothers should ask about a possible ectopic pregnancy. If a head injury is involved, let the ER staff know immediately, as this could be a sign of a fatal blood clot.

Before heading to the ER: If you’re vomiting, stay hydrated. Drink a half-ounce of clear liquid every 15 minutes and continue as long as it stays down. Take ibuprofen and aspirin for pain and fever as needed.

Respiratory difficulty

Prevention: Be aware of triggers for breathing problems – smoke or allergies – and avoid them if possible. People with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, are at the greatest risk for respiratory difficulty. If you have signs of bronchitis, see your family practitioner before it leads to pneumonia.

Before heading to the ER: People with breathing conditions should use an inhaler and go to the doctor immediately for treatment. Stay calm, as hyperventilation can aggravate the problem.

High fever

Prevention: Avoid germs by washing hands frequently and not sharing drinks or utensils. Cough into your sleeve rather than your hand. Use hand sanitizers. Check with your primary care physician to make sure you are up to date on vaccinations.

Before heading to the ER: Babies younger than 3 months, senior citizens, cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, patients taking steroids and people with a weakened immune system should go to the hospital with any fever, says the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Danger signs for otherwise healthy people can be a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, a fever that lasts for more than four to five days, trouble breathing, a change in behavior, headache or neck stiffness. Be alert to exposure to bacterial or viral infections if the person is not vaccinated or has been recently exposed to possible parasites or bacteria in the water.

Bacteria can cause potentially fatal infectious diseases if they get into cuts and wounds. Wash open or infected areas well with soap and water and apply antibiotic ointment and bandages. Bring fever down with acetaminophen or ibuprofen and stay hydrated.

Is it an emergency?

“Better safe than sorry,”