Poison Ivy

If you live in California, Alaska, or Hawaii... have no fear, poison ivy is usually not found in your state. For the other 47 states, beware! Poison ivy can grow in many forms including a ground-cover, shrub, or a climbing vine.  With a very distinct leaf pattern of 3, this plant in easy to identify on the trail.

Most people will develop a rash after touching poison ivy that will last anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks.  The rash comes as a result of having a reaction to the oil called urushiol as their skin touches the plant. Every part of the plant - the leaves, stem, roots, and flowers all contain this oil.  One interesting fact is that if you burn this poisonous plant, you can actually release urushiol particles into the air which can later land on your skin and cause the rash. Also, it is not possible to get this rash from touching someone who has the rash.  The skin absorbs the oil too quickly. 

Natural remedies for treating poison ivy include: Baking soda baths, Oatmeal pastes, Aloe Vera gel, Rubbing a banana peel on your skin, using Jewelweed, and the most common - Calamine lotion. If you have a serious reaction, you will most likely need prescription medicine. Your dermatologist may prescribe a steroid ointment that you can apply to the skin. 

The Heimlich Maneuver

The Heimlich maneuver is an emergency technique for preventing suffocation when a person's airway (windpipe) becomes blocked by a piece of food or other object. The Heimlich maneuver can be used safely on both adults and children, but most experts do not recommend it for infants less than 1 year old. You can also perform the maneuver on yourself.


How To:

  • For a conscious person who is sitting or standing, position yourself behind the person and reach your arms around his or her waist.

  • Place your fist, thumb side in, just above the person's navel (belly button) and grab the fist tightly with your other hand.

  • Pull your fist abruptly upward and inward to increase airway pressure behind the obstructing object and force it from the windpipe.

  • If the person is conscious and lying on his or her back, straddle the person facing the head. Push your grasped fist upward and inward in a maneuver similar to the one above.

You may need to repeat the procedure several times before the object is dislodged. If repeated attempts do not free the airway, an emergency cut in the windpipe (tracheotomy) may be necessary.

Tenderfoot 12b - Frostbite and Sunburn

Being a scout, you will need to brave the elements while camping or hiking.  Your skin, if exposed to the elements, may be in danger of getting frostbite or sunburned.   And yes, you are able to get sunburned in the winter.  The best thing to do is make sure that your skin is protected.

For sunburns make sure to apply sunscreen to all exposed skin.  You could also wear a hat, long sleeve shirts and pants will greatly lower the chances of getting a sunburn.

To protect yourself from frostbite, dress warm.  Wearing gloves, stocking caps, and scarves will helped against the cold.  If your feet are the problem, double up on the wool socks.

The following is what you should do if you have been sunburned or have frostbite.


  • Seek Medical Care Promptly
    • See a doctor or go to a hospital emergency room
  • Restore Warmth
    • Get to a warm place
    • Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten toes or feet
    • Gently warm the area with warm water  Using too warm water will actually be very painful on the affected area.
    • If no warm water is available, breath on the area through cupped hands and hold close to your body
    • Do not use direct heat from heating pads or from the fire
    • Do not rub your hands together to make warm... your skin will actually rub off!
  • Bandage The Area
    • Apply dry, sterile dressings and do not break any blisters


  • Take a cool bath or shower
    • You can also apply a clean towel dampened with cool water
  • Leave Blisters intact
    • Popping them will increase your chance of infection
  • Drink plenty of Water
    • Fight the burn from the inside out.  Your skin is damaged and dry. Keeping hydrated will help your body heal itself with your sunburn.
  • Keep the affected are out of the sun
  • If needed, take a couple of Tylenol to help with the pain and headache associated with the sunburn.
  • Do not use any cream that contains oil! Doing so will only trap in the heat from your sunburn and cause it to become worse.
Remember, the best practice is to be prepared and prevent any frostbite and sunburn issues before they even start.  Dress smart and appropriate for the weather condition as you are hiking or camping.

First Aid - Nose Bleed

How to care for a Nosebleed
Tenderfoot Requirement 12b.
  • Sit upright and lean forward. By remaining upright, you reduce blood pressure in the veins of your nose. This discourages further bleeding. Sitting forward will help you avoid swallowing blood, which can irritate your stomach.

  • Pinch your nose. Use your thumb and index finger to pinch your nostrils shut. Breathe through your mouth. Continue to pinch for five to 10 minutes. Pinching sends pressure to the bleeding point on the nasal septum and often stops the flow of blood.

  • To prevent re-bleeding, don't pick or blow your nose and don't bend down for several hours after the bleeding episode. During this time remember to keep your head higher than the level of your heart.

  • If re-bleeding occurs, blow out forcefully to clear your nose of blood clots and spray both sides of your nose with a decongestant nasal spray containing oxymetazoline (Afrin, Mucinex Moisture Smart, others). Pinch your nose again as described above and call your doctor.

  • Seek medical care immediately if the bleeding lasts for more than 20 minutes, the nosebleed follows an accident, a fall or an injury to your head, including a punch in the face that may have broken your nose.

  • Contact your doctor if you experience frequent nosebleeds. You may need a blood vessel cauterized. Cautery is a technique in which the blood vessel is burned with electric current, silver nitrate or a laser. Your doctor may pack your nose with special gauze or an inflatable latex balloon to put pressure on the blood vessel and stop the bleeding. You're experiencing nasal bleeding and are taking blood thinners, such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin). Your doctor may advise adjusting your medication dosage.

Basic First Aid: Minor Cuts and Scrapes

Minor cuts and scrapes are bound to happen to all Scouts... even Leaders.  Knowing how to care for minor cuts and scrapes will help prevent against infections.
The following are some steps to take with minor cuts and scrapes:

  1. Stop the Bleeding - Most minor cuts stop bleeding on their own.  In the case that you can not stop the bleeding, apply pressure to the wound with a clean cloth or bandage for 10 - 20 minutes.  If the cut is 1/4 inch or deeper and muscle is showing, apply pressure and get medical attention for stitches. 
  2. Clean the Wound - Wash the wound with clean water and soap.
  3. Apply Triple Antibiotic Ointment - The use of triple antibiotic helps your wound from not becoming infected.
  4. Cover the Wound - Bandages can help keep the wound clean and keep harmful bacteria out. After the wound has healed enough to make infection unlikely, exposure to the air will speed wound healing.
  5. Change the Dressing - Change the dressing at least daily or whenever it becomes wet or dirty.

First Aid Merit Badge

  1. Satisfy your counselor that you have current knowledge of all first-aid requirements for Tenderfoot, Second Class, and First Class ranks.
  2. Do the following:
    1. Explain how you would obtain emergency medical assistance from your home, on a wilderness camping trip, and during an activity on open water.
    2. Explain the term triage.
    3. Explain the standard precautions as applied to bloodborne pathogens.
    4. Prepare a first-aid kit for your home. Display and discuss its contents with your counselor.
  3. Do the following:
    1. Explain what action you should take for someone who shows signals of shock, for someone who shows signals of a heart attack, and for someone who shows signals of stroke.
    2. Identify the conditions that must exist before performing CPR on a person. Then demonstrate proper technique in performing CPR using a training device approved by your counselor.
    3. Explain the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).
    4. Show the steps that need to be taken for someone suffering from a severe cut on the leg and on the wrist. Tell the dangers in the use of a tourniquet and the conditions under which its use is justified.
    5. Explain when a bee sting could be life threatening and what action should be taken for prevention and for first aid.
    6. Explain the symptoms of heatstroke and what action should be taken for first aid and for prevention.
  4. Do the following:
    1. Describe the signals of a broken bone. Show first-aid procedures for handling fractures (broken bones), including open (compound) fractures of the forearm, wrist, upper leg, and lower leg using improvised materials.
    2. Describe the symptoms and possible complications and demonstrate proper procedures for treating suspected injuries to the head, neck, and back. Explain what measures should be taken to reduce the possibility of further complicating these injuries.
  5. Describe the symptoms, proper first-aid procedures, and possible prevention measures for the following conditions:
    1. Hypothermia
    2. Convulsions/seizures
    3. Frostbite
    4. Dehydration
    5. Bruises, strains, sprains
    6. Burns
    7. Abdominal pain
    8. Broken, chipped, or loosened tooth
    9. Knocked out tooth
    10. Muscle cramps
  6. Do TWO of the following:
    1. If a sick or an injured person must be moved, tell how you would determine the best method. Demonstrate this method.
    2. With helpers under your supervision, improvise a stretcher and move a presumably unconscious person.
    3. With your counselor's approval, arrange a visit with your patrol or troop to an emergency medical facility or through an American Red Cross chapter for a demonstration of how an AED is used.
  7. Teach another Scout a first-aid skill selected by your counselor.

Personal First-Aid Kits





, each Scout should take with them the

Basic Essentials

.  This includes a

Personal First Aid Kit

.  Your

Personal First Aid Kit

will be able to take care of minor injuries, blisters, and scrapes.  Your patrol will want to prepare

a larger one for the Troop to take care of illnesses and injuries.  All members of the Patrol should know where to quickly access the Troop First Aid Kit.  An old zip up camera case works great to hold all the items of your Personal First Aid Kit.  You can usually find one at the local thrift store for about $0.25.

The following should be included in your

Personal First Aid Kit


(Printable Version)

  • 6 adhesive bandages
  • 2 sterile, 3 X 3 inch gauze pads
  • A small roll of adhesive tape
  • A 3 X 6 inch piece of moleskin
  • A small bar of soap or small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizing gel
  • A small tube of triple antibiotic ointment
  • Scissors
  • Disposable non-latex gloves
  • CPR breathing barrier
  • Pencil and Paper

An old camera case work great to hold all items for your

Personal First Aid Kit