Accidents can happen on the bike, and while we can't always prevent them, we can help prepare for them in a variety of ways. Having adequate protection, kit and bike set-up are just a few of the basic ways to ensure a safe ride.
Unfortunately not all accidents are down to user error, there's many external influences that can cause us to have a tumble. Other riders, drivers and pedestrians can interfere with our flow, and ultimately a come-off.
Cycling first aid kits have been around for some time now, and while some riders refuse to leave the house without one, others feel it's additional and unnecessary weight. We take cycle safety very seriously at TWC, so we decided to take a gander into how necessary it is to carry first aid supplies.
What is a Cycling First Aid Kit?
A first aid kit doesn't mean you have to raid your bathroom cabinet for all sorts of bottles, pills and dressings, so you can leave the thermometer and stethoscope at home. First aid is essentially the first port of call in case of an accident or emergency. As we aren't all qualified healthcare professionals, most of us are only skilled enough to use the basic essentials, anyway.
A first aid kit will usually contain only dry tools. Plasters, bandages, wadding, and micro-pore tape. Some kits will go the extra distance to include alcohol wipes, scissors and tweezers.
These essentials will help you to deal with common ailments: grazes, cuts and open wounds.
For more serious injuries such as broken bones or head injuries, it's advised to not touch anything and call the emergency services.
When to Carry a First Aid Kit?
Although the idea of having a first aid kit with you is considered practical, is it always necessary for every ride?
No, but yes. If you want to to be prepared for anything, then by all means pack the dry aids away and have that piece of mind. However, it all depends on where you're riding and for how long. If you're cycling to work or around the city, then there's little reason to have a full kit with you. If any accident happens you're in a populated area for quick assistance, or not far from home to get back to.
For road cyclists, weight additional weight is always a concern: space in your pockets is limited and you don't want to load up your bike frame. Even though it's always best to be prepared, in reality we don't always think this way. As a general rule of thumb, a first aid kit should be taken if you're cycling long distances through rural areas, or if you're riding new routes with unfamiliar sections.
However, if you're riding at a manned trail centre or bike park, you may be able to get away with minimal first aid supplies - as a populated bike park wont have help too far away.For mountain bikers who generally ride with hydration packs, there's no real reason not to carry the bare essentials of a first aid kit. A zip lock baggy with some plasters, tampons (low volume cotton wool!) and tape that you can roll up and tuck into your bag with minimal effort or weight. It can be argued that a first aid kit is even more necessary for the dirt shredders as you're more likely to come into contact with rogue branches, loose debris and the floor.
Buy a First Aid kit, or Make your own
You can buy a cycling specific first aid kit for as little as £10, or you can make your own and personalise it for your ride and kit bag.
How many of us have emergency tampons in our bags and on our person? I do. But they aren't just for a surprise visit from Mother Nature, they are great wadding for open wounds. Sterile and compact, I consider tampons to be a great every day carry, and ride essential.
Making your own first aid kit allows you to save some pennies and tailor it for your likely needs. A simple zip lock bag with tampons, dry bandages and tape can remain waterproof, rolled up and clean in your jersey pocket or your hydration bag. Savlon make some great antiseptic wipes, too - which are wrapped individually in thin packets that keep them moist and ready to use when opened. It is best to clean out cuts ASAP to prevent them turning nasty - so these could well save you troubles later.
Your medical kit bag doesn't have to weigh a lot- or take up too much space - and how much you decide to fill it with is entirely up to you.
Although you may be an accomplished cyclist with a great deal of confidence and skill on the bike, no one can account for external hazards can may cause you to come off your bike.
Whether you're in the city, on the roads or climbing the mountains, bike safety is very important. By having a few small first aid essentials stashed away can give you piece of mind and may even come in handy if you, or someone in your party has a fall.
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