First aid and health on the mountain is of utmost importance and should be taken very seriously. Prevention is logically the best cure. A competent and confident First Aider should be appointed with sufficient knowledge and experience. The St.John�s Ambulance in Nairobi does offer training program in basic first aid.
The first aid kit should be airtight/waterproof and preferably hard case but light. It should be kept in a location where it is easily accessible. Medical conditions on the mountain can range anything from minor cuts and bruises to severe conditions such as HACE and HAPE.
Most climbers experience AMS (acute mountain sickness) on Mt.Kenya though they don�t realize it. Mild symptoms include headache, fatigue, vomiting, dizziness, hypoxic conditions and disturbance in sleep patterns. It is advisable to acclimatize in Nairobi for at least four days before attempting to climb. A night stay at Met station is also advisable. A slow ascent is generally the best thing to do, ensuring plenty of water in take.
HAPE and HACE are more severe and should be treated immediately before the condition progresses. HAPE is characterized by a cough with frothy bloody sputum and can be fatal if untreated. HACE symptoms include ataxia, mental confusion, headache, slurred speech and mental confusion. Due to our inexperience with this condition on the mountain we cannot advice on any actions to take but generally it would be a good idea to stop ascending and either stay at that altitude or possibly descend.
Hypothermia is also common is due to continual exposure of the body to the elements and reduction of the core body temperature below normal limits. It is best to keep warm and have an extra layer of clothing handy to put on when resting while hiking. As most body heat is lost from the head wearing a cap or a woollen hat helps.
Blisters can make the hiking conditions painful and are best avoided altogether. They normally arise due to the friction of the skin with the shoe. People do often wear two pairs of socks to prevent them. Another method used by some local climbers is to soak the feet in dilute methylated spirit to harden the skin, but we highly do not recommend this. It is also a good idea not to wear shoes you have never worn before and not used to. Loosely fitted shoes do also contribute to blisters. There is not much that can be done about blisters, applying blister pads and cushioning does help.
Sunburns and snow blindness are both common. The sun (UV rays) is powerful and unfiltered at this altitude. Sun shades/goggles, lip balm and sun block are very useful.
Frostbite is often
painful. It can lead to amputations if severe and untreated. Minor cuts are
resolved relatively with easy using Elastoplasts.
Essential First Aid
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ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR PHARMACIST BEFORE TAKING ANY MEDICATION
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