Summer road trips are a popular way for families to take a vacation, spend time together, and explore new destinations. Road trips can create a lifetime of memories – both good ones and sometimes bad if things don’t go well. One of the best ways to ensure a summer road trip is fun and to avoid potential problems is to be prepared ahead of time for those minor emergencies that may arise while out on the open road.

Get Certified

Let’s face it, injuries and illnesses don’t necessarily take a vacation just because you do. To be prepared for emergencies on the road and off, I highly recommend taking a CPR and First Aid class. Anyone in the family who is old enough can sign up for local classes. You never know when you could save a life or may need to help someone who is seriously injured before emergency medical assistance arrives. If you can’t take a class, there are apps available to download onto your smartphone. These apps offer first aid and CPR tips and how-to demonstrations.

First Aid On The Road

First Aid Kit

Keeping a well-stocked first aid kit in your vehicle can help you handle minor illnesses and injuries that may occur when traveling. First aid supplies for your car trip can be purchased in a pre-packaged kit. In addition, you can easily put together your own kit by filling a tackle box, small plastic shoebox container with a lid, or a tote bag with the supplies you want to include.

First Aid On The road

Treating Sunburn

A common injury that occurs on road trips is getting sunburned. This happens from being exposed to direct sunlight while in the car for long periods of time; usually occurring on one arm or side of the face, on the side nearest the window. To prevent this from happening, wear sunscreen and reapply every couple of hours, get a sunscreen shade for your car windows (some mesh ones don’t interfere with the driver’s ability to see out side windows but can help protect against sunburns), and change positions if you can by taking turns driving.

Other injuries may occur during stops or at your destination. If your family is spending time outdoors, these could include minor scrapes or cuts, bumps, bruises, insect stings, getting over-heated (hyperthermia), dehydration, sprained ankles, or broken bones.

Common Injuries

To treat minor scrapes, cuts, bumps, and bruises, use the bandages, antiseptic towelettes or spray, antibiotic cream or ointment and a cold pack. Clean the injury well with soap and water (if available) then the antiseptic. Let air dry or gently dry with sterile gauze. Apply antibiotic and bandage or a gauze dressing with tape. For bumps or bruising without external bleeding, apply the cold pack for 20 minutes, making sure to have a towel or cloth between the cold pack and the skin. Do not apply directly to the uncovered skin as this could cause frostbite and serious injury.

To treat insect stings, use a credit card to gently scrape the stinger out of the skin. Clean with soap and water then antiseptic, apply antibiotic and bandage. If the bite itches, hydrocortisone cream can help reduce the itching. Keep an eye out for any sign of an allergic reaction. If the person begins to have any trouble breathing, doesn’t feel well, or shows any signs of illness, seek medical assistance right away.

Dehydration and More

To prevent dehydration and hyperthermia, drink water frequently when outdoors. If you are very active and sweating a lot, drink a sports drink containing electrolytes. Take frequent breaks to go inside or to find shade and rest. If someone becomes over-heated and begins to have a headache, muscle cramps, dizziness, or signs of illness, seek medical assistance.

First Aid On The Road

For a sprained ankle, use the RICE technique to treat: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevate. If there is any concern that a bone may be broken or if the sprain is severe, seek medical attention.

Most minor illnesses and injuries can be treated with your first aid kit, but more serious ones require professional medical attention. If there is any doubt, get it checked out! By being prepared and having first aid supplies in your vehicle, your family’s road trip can be safe and fun despite any little “bumps in the road”.

Is your family planning a road trip this summer? If so, where are you going?

Tamara is a “real life” nurse and has a blog called Mom RN. She can also be found on her radio show Ask MomRN!

First Aid On The Road