Guest blog: Being prepared for anything while in the wild

Today’s guest blog is by Toby Amodeo, an American University public health and film student who was APHA’s Get Ready intern in summer 2015.

Summer is the perfect time to get out into the wild. For me, that meant a 10-day canoeing trip this August up in southern Canada with a group of Boy Scouts. Following the scout motto of “Be Prepared,” we had to make sure we were ready to head out into some of the most remote wilderness we’d ever be in.

This wasn’t a normal paddle down the river. People die in Quetico Provincial Park, the site of our trip. Some locations are so remote it would take up to three days for help to arrive in an emergency. We had to be sure we were ready in case of injury, storms and anything else.

One of the first things we did was make a float plan, a schedule of where we planned to paddle. Even if it changed slightly, someone back at base would at least know generally where we were. Our interpreter, otherwise known as our guide, carried a shortwave radio in a water-tight case, just in case we needed to get in touch quickly.

Next, we made sure our first-aid kit was stocked with everything we needed. We would be facing sprains, cuts, bug bites and lots of blisters, since our feet were wet more than they were dry. Being well-prepared includes tailoring your strategy to the most likely problems, so we carried plenty of antiseptic wipes and bandages for blisters. Your kit might be unique to your trip. If weight is a concern, leave out bulky items in favor of more useful, lighter ones.

Another item we made sure to bring was bug spray with at least 20 percent DEET. Northern Minnesota and southern Canada are breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Plus, the ticks there can carry Lyme disease. We made sure to include tweezers in our first-aid kit and kept them readily accessible.

That’s just the beginning of what we did to prepare. We had special procedures for cleaning dishes, cooking food and more. When out in remote settings, it’s much more likely that we’ll have an emergency. The steps may seem tedious, but I’ve seen them prevent injuries and illnesses time and time again. Being prepared means we can enjoy the wilderness without worry. So grab your pack and paddle and I’ll see you on the water!

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