I like to travel prepared for going larping (as you have probably gathered over the past year of updates) and usually carry a small first aid kit (or two depending on the circumstances) to larger events. As a member of the volunteer first aiders I will tend to the hurts and ouchies that come my way – however you should speak to some of my closer friends about my treatment of their self-inflicted hangover. Buckets of water might have been threatened …
I prefer to look after myself unless I have no option, so most of the times I will raid my personal first aid kit to tend to cuts, bumps, bruises, bites and blisters before taking my ouchies to a first aider for a second opinion. With the larger events upcoming and people taking to the field for their summer of fun, I thought I might offer my thoughts on what most people should have amongst their ooc gear in their tents so that they can tend to the smaller bumps and hurts themselves.
The key parts of a simple first aid kit
Assuming that you are at an event with first aiders you do not need to bring a full first aid kit, or the kitchen sink. The event organisers, crew and dedicated first aiders will have brought the necessary items to tend to serious injuries. However packing a smaller kit for yourself in your tent will allow you tend to those minor hurts without seeking a first aider, or to look after the cuts and blisters from your boots without having to limp across the camp.
The kit doesn’t need to be huge – a small wash bag, heavy duty zip-loc bag or a plastic lunch tub of antiseptic wipes, plasters and a few bits and bobs is all you need. Ideally label it so that you know what it is among your gear, or pick a distinctive coloured bag (e.g. red), so that when it’s needed you can grab it. Don’t forget to pack your first aid box when heading out to a weekend event!
These following items are things I would pack are:
- Antiseptic / alcohol-free cleansing wipes
- Sterile plasters (ideally waterproof, in various sizes)
- Large triangular bandage or cloth
- Blister pads
- Insect bite creams
- Hand sanitiser / alcohol gel
- Prescription medicine (if appropriate)
- Arnica / bruise creams
- Painkillers (for personal use)
- Suncream & Aftersun
- Antihistamines (e.g. Piriteze)
Bumps and bruises
I have found that running through the woods will normally end with someone getting bumps or bruises. Bruises form where a blow has causes the capillaries beneath the skin to bleed without tearing the skin. Some form quickly, some take a while to come to the surface depending on the depth of the injury. Most will bloom and fade on their own, but to ease the ache, and the spread of the bruising, a cold compress should be applied to the raised appendage.
A cold compress can be made using an ice pack, or bag filled with ice cubes, or a bag of frozen peas or similar; wrapped in a dry cloth. However, given that most larps will occur far from places with such things easily to hand, a cloth soaked in cold water will do the trick. Wring the cloth lightly before folding the cloth into a pad.
Hold this pad of cloth or bundle of cloth wrapped ice to the affected area for no more than 10 minutes (though the cloth compress will need to be refreshed every few minutes to keep it cool).
Some people find that rubbing Arnica or a similar bruise cream onto the affected area helps ease the pain and keeps the skin supple whilst the bruise heals.
Cuts and scrapes
Someone will normally trip and fall and scrape themselves, or cut themselves on damaged chainmail or other sharp objects. These cuts are normally minor and will heal if left alone, but open cuts are a risk of infection and should be cleaned and treated. Deeper cuts or ones that do not stop bleeding after some initial pressure should be seen to by a first aider or medical professional, particularly if something like dirt has gotten deep into the cut. Grazes are caused when the topmost layers of skin have been scraped off, such as after a fall onto a rough surfaces and should be cleaned to remove any particulate in the cuts. Both of these can be treated in the same way.
If the cut is small and stops bleeding quickly, clean the cut and pat it dry before putting a suitably sized plaster over the cut. Grazes may not need plasters, but it depends on the severity and size.
However, if the cut is bleeding then the bleeding should be stopped before applying a proper dressing. Clean the cut/graze under running water or using cleansing wipes. Pat the wound dry and cover with a sterile dressing (not a plaster). Raise the wound above the heart – either by holding the hand/arm up in the air or by lying on the ground and raising the affected leg. This will help stop the bleeding. Clean the area around the wound with soap and water and pat dry again. Cover with a sterile plaster or dressing.
If there is anything deeper in the wound that cannot easily be removed by washing the cut with running water (e.g. glass, grit, dirt), seek the opinion of your first aider or seek professional medical advice.
Sprains and strains
Whilst running through the woods your body will be having a great work out. However, from over-exerting yourself or slipping there is always a chance you may pull a muscle (strain) or pulling a tendon (sprain). These can be quite painful and tender, or can be quite serious depending on the severity. The serious injuries require proper treatment, but a minor one can be eased by yourself from the comfort of your camping chair.
Signs that you might have a sprain (around joints or along tendons) or a strain (around / within muscles) include pain and tenderness, difficulty of movement or swelling and bruising of the area.
Sprains and strains are treated in the same way via the ‘RICE’ procedure:
- R – Rest the injured part
- I – Ice the injury with ice pack / cold compress / cold flannel
- C – Comfortably support the injured part
- E – Elevate the injured part
As above a cold compress can be made using ice/frozen veg wrapped in a clean cloth or by soaking a cloth in cold water and refreshing this regularly.
However, if in doubt, turn to your first aider or seek medical advice for assistance.
Bites, stings and blisters
Insect bites and stings are a hazard of the summer months when midges, bees and wasps are in great numbers. Bites and stings normally affect a localised area and normally have redness and swelling around the sting.
If you have been stung by a bee remove the sting by scraping it out of your skin by using your finger nails or the edge of a credit/debit card – trying to avoid squeezing the sac of venom as you do so.
Wash the area with soap and water, and raise the affected appendage before applying a cold compress/ ice pack for no more than 10 minutes. If you are experiencing pain, take some pain relief, or use an insect bite cream to prevent the itching or further swelling. Some people may have a mild allergy that is not serious, but taking an antihistamine can help relieve any allergic reaction.
Blisters form where skin is rubbed repeatedly against another surface, like the back of a walking boot or against layers of socks. They form as a layer of fluid collecting beneath the skin which protects the damaged tissue. Ideally these should not be burst/torn or damaged as they are the body’s way of protecting the tissue whilst it heals.
The affected area should be washed clean or cleansed with a cleansing wipe before being carefully dried and either covered with a plaster or a specialised gel blister plaster which cushions the blister and falls off when the skin is healed.
If the blister is popped or damaged there is a chance the area may become infected. Do not pull away the dead skin atop the blister if possible, allow the blister to drain and cleanse and cover the area with sterile dressings. This should now be treated like any normal cut or wound.
Fun in the sun
And lets not forget my favourite topic – looking after yourself in the sun. I have already written about preparing for larping in the summer, but don’t forget the importance of taking sun cream to protect yourself from the sun, cover up when you can and keep yourself well hydrated.