July 28th, 2003

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
This is where our readers tell their stories . . .

Your Safety Net
Kerry Pitt (Inconnu), British Columbia, Canada

When we grab our gear and head out the door on another fishing adventure, we often don't give thought to anything beyond all of the good things that could happen through the day. A perfect hatch, rising fish, the correct dry fly and a few good casts, we hope that everything will go right to make the perfect day!

But what about when things go wrong? Are you prepared? Was it something you gave some thought to, before you went out the door? Before you had even planned this trip? A seemingly small oversight, could turn your day into a very unhappy one, but with a little planning, you may be able to control or even prevent a bad situation, with a little preparation, you can make the best of a bad situation and possibly save yourself or your partner from potentially serious after effects of an accident.

Not many of us really believe we will or could have one, an accident I mean, but think about it, have you ever planned to have one? Things can happen to anyone and so quickly that by time you realize it is happening, it HAS happened and now you or your companion must do damage control, to both minimize the immediate effect of the accident and to try to decrease the risk of long term effects after the accident.

Some of us carry first aid kits in our R.V.'s, or automobiles and boats. Alot of us carry them in our vests, tubes or packs and that is good! There should always be some kind of emergency kit close by when you are on an outing, but accident and emergency prevention should start well before you or your partner ever have to reach for a kit.

Almost everyone realizes the safety benefit that Polaroid glasses provide when flycasting, no they are not just meant to help you see the fish, they protect your eyes from errant flies, dust and other airborn particles on a windy day. By far though, the most feared situation for me is to actually imbed a fly in my eye due to my own error or an errant gust of wind. Those of you who have not either experienced this or been with a friend who has had it happen, may have a hard time imagining the panic that can set in when a person suffers an eye injury. Fear of the loss of sight can cause you to panic and actually go into a sort of shock. I am no doctor, but I have experienced this fear and it is not a pleasant thing for you to feel or your companions to have to deal with.

One of the first methods or tools of prevention then, is glasses. If you don't own any, you need to. If you can't afford Polaroids or think you do not need them, then purchase a clear set of safety glasses, do not go out on the water without them! Purchase glasses with side shields, or the goggle design, anybody who has seen a tippet wrap around a twig or branch, should appreciate what can happen on the arm of your glasses without a side shield.

First aid kits are great! But if it is in your vehicle a few hundred feet away, or a mile away, it may be of little value. Take a small well stocked kit with you in your vest, it can make all of the difference in how you control the aftermath of an accident.

I carry a small one with me all of the time. To date it has met my needs, providing mostly clean bandages and antiseptic to abrasions and cuts that I have afflicted myself with while on the water...or rather while falling on the rocks, near the water. You need not have a full arsenal of materials, but a small selection of the right stuff, will make it alot easier to deal with some situations, until you can get to a bigger kit, or more qualified help. I am not going to fix up a broken leg with my vest kit, but I can bandage a good sized wound, or deal with an extra addition to an eyeball, until I can get my partner to a doctor. I will give you a list of what I carry, but please feel free to add to it if you see something I am missing, or if perhaps you also need something to deal with local hazards such as poisonous snakes etc.

Okay so the top half of my kit contains:

  • 1 pr. of blunt nosed scissors.
  • 1 pr. of blunt ended tweezers (the really sharp tweezers some kits have may not be the safest thing to carry around with you, let alone use on someone).
  • Several antiseptic towelettes.
  • several sting relief pads.
  • A #4 pressure bandage.
  • Several butterfly bandages.

The lower half of my kit contains:

  • Several Telfa pads.
  • A good selection of Curad bandages.
  • One eye pad, but I recommend 2 eye pads, if you want to keep someones eye from moving, it is best (if they will let you) to cover both eyes, but keep in mind that this is an uncomfortable feeling for most folks and may not go over well, so instead of wrestling them to the ground, let them dictate what you will do here.
  • One pair of latex gloves (if anyone is allergic to latex, there are other choices such as nitril or vinyl).
  • 2 pkgs. of iodine ointment.
  • 1 pkg. of acetominophen.
  • 1 roll of gauze.
  • 1 roll of white medical tape

While this may not be the most comprehensive kit out there, it does give me the ability to handle most of the common cuts and bruises as well as a few more serious wounds should the need arise. If you can think of something else that you should carry, let us all know.

As I said, safety should start well before you hit the water and there are other factors you should take into account. Things like allergies, are you or your partner highly allergic to bee stings, spider bites or other things? Do one of you carry a shock kit in case of a violent allergic reaction? Does your partner know about it and how to help you with it? I know in some countries and States administering help that is invasive, is illegal, but if my partner is lying unconscious on the ground due to bee sting, I may overlook that point of law, that is a personal decision not a reccommendation on my part.

Are you or your partner on any medication? It doesn't hurt to know this either. I know this seems like alot of information to exchange with each other, but often times we fish with the same friends and it is not hard to be up to speed on how each of you are doing health wise.

I have to take level #1 first aid every couple of years and while I hate the classroom setting I am always glad I have taken even something as basic as that. Perhaps as a club, it would be an idea to bring in a 1st aid instructor to give everyone some basic skills and techniques that may one day come in handy. While I am on that subject, if you do not know CPR it wouldn't hurt to learn it, of all the things I learn each time I take Level 1 first aid, I am always the most appreciative of CPR instruction.

You know, often times it is not so much remembering everything you have learned about dealing with accidents, it is knowing where to start and that you should do something and you can do something. Knowledge is power, so learn what you can, prepare as much as is reasonable and enjoy your outings! ~ Kerry Pitt (Inconnu)

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