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The ambulance was just minutes away when my son fell out of a tree. They quickly stabilized his wound and headed for the hospital where he got x-rays, blood tests, and plenty of stitches. I was so thankful for trained professionals that could help him!
But in an SHTF scenario, you may not have access to medical professionals that can administer life-giving care. You may need to do it yourself.
In this article, we’ll talk about some of the most critical medical skills that every prepper should learn and practice. We’ll tell you what those skills are and give you some ideas to get more information.
Remember, though. We aren’t medical professionals, just people who want to be prepared for emergencies. The more prepared you are, the better your chances of surviving a life-threatening or dangerous situation. Let’s get started.
How to Administer CPR
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which can save someone’s life if their heart has stopped beating. Ideally, you would take a class with an organization such as the Red Cross so you can be certified in CPR. However, they also offer an online explanation of CPR and how to administer it here.
How to Clean and Treat an Open Wound
Minor cuts, burns, or abrasions can be treated at home. According to WebMD, you should follow these steps:
- Wash your hand.
- Stop the bleeding with gentle pressure.
- Rinse the wound with water. If there is debris in the wound, you might need to remove it with sterilized tweezers. You can use soap and water around the cut, but don’t put soap directly into the cut.
- Apply antibiotic cream.
- Bandage the wound if needed.
- Keep an eye out for any signs of infection.
However, if you have a more severe wound and aren’t able to get immediate medical help, you’ll need to stop the bleeding first.
Backpacker.com outlines the critical steps to take for a more severe wound and explains when to use a tourniquet and how to close the wound. They also suggest supplies you may want to have on hand for such emergencies.
How to Place Wraps /Bandages on Injuries
If you have a larger wound, you may need to cover it with a dressing and then wrap the injury to keep the dressing in place. It’s very important to wrap the wound with the right amount of pressure so you don’t cut off blood flow and create a tourniquet effect, which could cause even more damage to the body.
Woundsource.com provides step-by-step directions and some extra tips to get wraps just right.
How to Help Someone Who Is Choking
The Heimlich maneuver is a simple technique to learn, but it could quickly save a life! If you know what to do ahead of time, you’ll be ready if the situation ever arises.
- Here’s how to help a child who is choking: Child and Infant Heimlich Maneuver.
- And here is how to help an adult: Adult Heimlich Maneuver
How to Treat Allergic Reactions
Allergic reactions can happen quickly and be deadly. However, if you act quickly, most of the time they are treatable. Minor allergic reactions may involve sneezing and a runny nose or skin rash. However, more serious allergic reactions can be life-threatening and may include hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the tongue or airway, vomiting, and a feeling of doom.
Anaphylaxis usually occurs within 20 minutes to 2 hours after exposure. Usually, it can be reversed with epinephrine. However, some people need a second dose of epinephrine within a few hours. In addition, some people will have a secondary anaphylactic response within 12 hours.
For more information about severe allergic reactions, click here.
How to Treat a Fever
A fever is a temperature over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Fevers usually aren’t serious on their own – they are the body’s way of fighting off germs and viruses. However, a high fever – over 102.2 degrees in adults is serious, and you need to seek medical treatment.
You can manage fever symptoms with medication such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen to lower the temperature and ease aches and pains. You can also administer cool cloths. Tylenol offers excellent advice on how to treat fevers for adults and children.
How to Identify Infectious Diseases
There are a lot of infectious diseases and viruses that can become life-threatening without the proper treatment. The first line of defense is good sanitation and hygiene, as well as getting enough rest and staying healthy.
How to Treat Hypothermia
Hypothermia happens when a person’s body temperature becomes so cold that it interferes with their circulation. It can happen from being out in the cold but typically occurs when someone is both cold and wet. It would be best if you were very gentle with hypothermia victims.
Mild hypothermia usually presents itself as shivering and mental confusion. More severe hypothermia leads to loss of consciousness and even death. Check out this article to learn more about how to prevent, recognize, and treat hypothermia.
How to Handle Frostbite
Frostbite happens when skin and tissue freeze from exposure to cold. It can cause permanent damage to the body and needs to be treated carefully. Symptoms of frostbite include pain, numbness, tingling, burning sensations, and even loss of movement. In the early stage, it may look like a burn.
Early frostbite is very treatable and is sometimes referred to as frostnip. But the longer the body is exposed to freezing temperatures, the deeper the damage may go.
Of course, it’s always best to get help from medical professionals, but for more information, visit verywellhealth.com.
How to Handle a Gunshot Wound
A gunshot wound can be your worst nightmare during any SHTF situation. Survivopedia says that bleeding is the most likely cause of death with a gunshot wound. However, you can improve your chances of survival if you do three things immediately: stop the bleeding, treat for shock, and keep them breathing.
You’ll probably need to cut away their clothing to assess the situation first. Keep in mind that you probably shouldn’t go digging around inside for the bullet – instead, focus on stabilizing the victim and getting help as soon as possible. If the bullet didn’t exit the wound, it might be in some unexpected place in the body.
Apply pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. You may need to pack the wound or use a tourniquet, depending on the location and depth of the gunshot. This is where a gunshot wound kit can be lifesaving!
You’ll need to treat for shock and then keep the victim breathing.
How to Treat for Shock
Shock is a dangerous medical condition that can be fatal if left untreated. It typically happens when blood pressure drops too low, and there isn’t enough oxygenated blood circulating through the body. It can be caused from bleeding, infection, and allergic reaction.
Someone suffering from shock may have cool, clammy skin, a rapid, weak pulse, fatigue, dizziness, and fainting, and they may have a bluish or grey tinge to their lips or fingernails.
Of course, you’ll need to call 911 if possible. You need to stop any bleeding, as well. If possible, lay the person down and raise their legs by one or two feet to increase blood flow to the heart. Keep them warm, and begin CPR if necessary. You can learn more about treating shock from the Mayo clinic.
How to Make a Splint
You’ll sometimes need to use a splint to immobilize a person’s arm or leg to prevent further injury. According to medlineplus.gov, the injured body part should be splinted in the same position you found it so you don’t cause any further injury.
If there is an open wound, you’ll need to treat that first. Then, find something rigid to support the wound, such as a splint or board.
For example, when my sister sprained her leg, my dad, a trained emergency medical technician, made her a large splint from two pillows, two two-by-fours, and a whole lot of duct tape. It kept her leg supported until they could get to the hospital for further treatment.
You’ll want to make the support bigger than the injured body part. Use cloth strips, tape, or ties to secure the body part to the support. Don’t press on the injured area, and don’t make the ties too tight, or they’ll cut off circulation.
How to Place Sutures in a Wound
Stitching a wound closed is a risky situation. Even field medics avoid stitching wounds closed when possible because it can greatly increase the risk of infection. That being said, there may be a time when closing a wound is absolutely necessary. In that case, you’ll want to know how to do it well.
There are different ways to close a wound, including butterfly strips, stapling, glue, and stitching. First, you need to make sure you stop the bleeding if there is any. Then you need to clean the wound. Next, close it with sutures, staples, or glue, and finally, protect the wound with bandages. You can find more detailed information at theprepared.com.