Surviving a SHTF situation is hard enough when you are healthy, but what do you do if you get injured and don’t have access to medical care? Injuries such as open wounds, burns, and skin diseases can be life-threatening if not treated properly. It is important to understand how to handle each kind of wound so as to prevent serious infections and life threatening conditions.
Open wounds are extremely serious in a survival situation. Tissue damage and blood loss are both dangerous, but the most important thing to prevent is infection. Bacteria that was on the object that created the wound can cause an infection if the wound is not cleaned properly. Then, if the wound is not closed or covered, anything that touches it can also cause an infection. Taking the right precautions immediately after being wounded can reduce the risk of contamination and encourage proper healing.
If you have an open wound
- Remove clothing around the wound to prevent the spread of bacteria.
- Look for an exit wound if it was caused by a gunshot or projectile.
- Clean the skin surrounding the wound thoroughly.
- Rinse the wound with large amounts of water under pressure. Do not scrub. You can use fresh urine if you do not have access to water. Iodine tablets or salt can be added to water to rise the wound and kill bacteria.
- Do not try to close the wound by stitching it. Leaving it open allows it to drain, which will typically prevent it from becoming life-threatening. If the wound is gaping, you can close it using a butterfly bandage (you can cut athletic tape into a butterfly shape if you do not have butterfly bandages).
- Cover the wound with a clean dressing. Use non-stick gauze to cover the wound and either place Band-Aids on the edges to hold it in place or wrap it with a bandage.
- Change the dressing daily and watch for signs of infection.
Treating burns properly helps prevent infection and speed the healing process.
If you have a burn:
- Cool the affected skin with cold water.
- Soak the dressing for ten minutes in a boiling tannic acid solution (made by boiling crushed acorns or the inner bark of hardwood trees).
- Cool the dressings if possible, and apply to the burn.
- Treat as an open wound.
- Stay hydrated, as burns dehydrate the body.
Skin diseases such as fungal infections, rashes, and boils can develop in a survival situation. They are typically not life-threatening, but can cause significant discomfort.
To treat a fungal infection, keep the skin clean and dry and expose it to sunlight.
To treat a rash, if it is moist, keep it dry and if it is dry, keep it moist. The most important thing about treating rashes is to remember not to scratch it and to not allow it to touch unaffected areas of skin as some rashes spread through skin to skin contact.
To treat a boil, apply a warm compress, cut the head of the boil with a sterile knife or needle, and clean out the pus with soap and warm water. Then treat it as an open wound.
If your wound gets infected, do not panic. In a survival situation, some degree of infection is unavoidable. Once you notice pain, swelling, redness, increased temperature, or pus, you need to act quickly to treat the infection. Taking antibiotics is the best way to treat an infection, but you must treat the wound directly as well.
If you have an infection:
- Put a warm, moist compress on the infected wound. Change the compress when it cools, in order to keep heat on the wound for 30 minutes. Repeat 3-4 times a day.
- Drain the wound. If it is filled with pus, use a sterile knife or needle to open the wound and use soap and water to clean it out.
- Dress and bandage the wound.
- Stay hydrated.
- Continue treating for infection until all signs of infection have disappeared and the wound is visibly healing.
Wounds are almost inevitable in a survival situation, but knowing how to treat them properly will allow you to avoid any life-threatening situations. Treating wounds as soon as possible with sterile equipment will prevent infection. It can be time-consuming to treat wounds correctly and change dressings daily, but doing so will allow you to avoid severe consequences.
What important first-aid supplies do you have stored for an emergency? Share your survival wound care strategies with other Battlboxers in our Facebook group.