After months trapped inside, every member of your family is probably itching to get into the great outdoors. One of the best ways to immerse yourself in nature is to go hiking in parks and on trails near you.
Just be prepared. Walking through even the tamest wilderness can present hazards. We're sharing how you can prevent common hiking injuries and what you need to do to treat them should they happen.
You've likely heard of the dangers of poison ivy since you were young, but you might not truly understand them unless you've experienced the rash first-hand. Unfortunately, there are all too many opportunities for run-ins with this allergy-inducing plant.
Poison ivy can be found in 48 out of 50 states, with only Alaska and Hawaii as the exceptions. And, at least 85% of the population is allergic to it.
The best way to prevent coming in contact with poison ivy is to know what it looks like and then to avoid it. For extra safety, you should be able to identify poison oak and poison sumac as well. If you do brush up against any of these poisonous plants, use calamine lotion to soothe the irritation.
Even the most experienced of hikers have the occasional stumble or fall. Your ankles are often the most vulnerable in these situations. To protect them, wear high-quality hiking boots with ankle support.
If you do twist or sprain your ankle, be sure to immediately take your weight off of it and elevate it. Use materials you have on hand to brace the ankle. If it continues to swell, seek medical care at a nearby walk-in urgent care center.
Proper medical care is the only way to ensure that the injury doesn't worsen and cause permanent damage to your ankle.
Blisters may seem like an inevitable side effect of hiking, but they don't have to be part of your reality. When clothing or footwear causes friction against the skin, it creates fluids that collect in between the irritated layers of skin. These areas then swell and tear, causing the pain you probably know from past blisters.
Luckily, you can usually avoid blisters by wearing shoes and socks that fit correctly. You should also prevent your feet from being wet for extended periods of time.
If you feel a blister forming, apply a layer of moleskin and athletic tape to keep it from tearing. When not properly treated, blisters can turn into infections that require immediate medical care.
Following these preparedness tips can help keep your hiking trip safe and enjoyable. However, if you or a family member suffers a minor injury on an outdoor excursion, don't hesitate to visit your nearest urgent care clinic.