Friday, January 31, 2014

How to set a broken bone during a hiking emergency

Breaking a one during a day hike is a serious injury.
Photo courtesy of Photoree.
While accidents on a hiking trail are rare, they can occur. A broken bone is among the most serious of them. Not only is it painful, if the bone is in the leg the injured party will have to be carried out, slowing you incredibly.

You’re first priority with any broken bone should be to get medical attention. If no blood is flowing to the affected limb, however, you may need to set the bone. Doing so may be the only way to save that arm, leg or finger.

To set a broken bone, first determine if doing so is necessary or wise. Begin by pressing on the skin beneath the break. If it turns white then upon your release it turns pink, blood is circulating in the limb, and no setting is required. However, if it remains white or already is blue, circulation probably has been cut off, especially if there is a lack of a pulse, numbness or tingling in that limb.

If the bone protrudes from the skin, however, do not set it. Immobilize it, instead.

The next step is to align the bone to its normal position. This can be done by pulling the limb in opposite directions on either side of the break. Recheck to see if circulation has returned to below the limb.

Read more about day hiking with children in my Hikes with Tykes guidebooks.