Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How to make a leg splint during a hiking accident

Make a leg splint the same way that you would make one for a broken
finger. Photo courtesy of van Hilten / Photoree.
Should a leg be injured during a hike, you may need to immobilize it with a splint, especially if a bone has been broken or fractured or a muscle sprained. Immobilizing the leg can help prevent further injury as well as reduce pain, which is vital if the injured party is a child.

A splint is the leg’s equivalent of a sling for an arm. This is where having a small tarp, gauze pads, and full bandage roll in your backpack can prove helpful.

Before placing a leg in a splint, make sure all bleeding has stopped. That typically can be done by applying direct pressure if a gauze pad over any cuts.

If a broken bone, next determine if circulation has been cut off beneath the break. Pale skin below the break suggests there is limited circulation. If this is the case, you will have to set the bone. We’ll save how to do that for another entry and presume the circulation is fine.

Gently slide your tarp (Stronger material, such as cardboard, works better, but we’re improvising, based on what materials you might carry during a hike.) beneath the injured leg. Place gauze pads between the leg and the tarp.

Fold the tarp about the leg, ensuring it is tight enough to prevent the leg from moving (otherwise the bone may shift) yet not so tight that circulation is cut off. Secure the tarp by use the roll of bandages, which can be tied to hold the splint in place.

Seek medical attention immediately.

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