Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
A true SHTF grid-down situation is one where we will become totally cut off from the everyday luxuries we take for granted everyday.
One of those luxuries is quick access to a doctor and medical attention. Making matters worse is that a true SHTF grid-down situation is one where your chances of sustaining physical injury goes up dramatically.
Whether you have to defend your home and property against invaders, bug out with your family, or work the land around your homestead, the chances of you sustaining an injury and not having access to professional medical treatment are high.
When you sustain a physical injury in an SHTF situation, there are two things that you must do:
- Treat the injury right away (in order to prevent the risk of further injury or infection)
- Treat the injury completely to the best of your abilities to expedite the healing process.
Keep this in mind throughout this article. Here are the top five injuries that people will get after SHTF and how to treat each one.
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A sprain is when the ligaments around your joints are stretched to the point of tearing. This causes swelling, pain, and reduced mobility.
The ligaments around your ankle are at the greatest risk of sustaining a sprain. While your ankle is fully capable of turning inward or outward, it’s only capable of doing so to a certain degree. When the ankle turns inward or outward too far, it causes a sprain. The chances of an ankle sprain happening are higher when running, jumping, or moving rapidly downhill.
The best way to prevent a sprain in the first place is to keep the aforementioned movements to a minimum and to wear stiff and quality high-top boots for most duty work in an SHTF situation.
But what do you do if you sustain a sprain anyway? Follow these steps:
1. Sit down and prop up your leg to a comfortable position. Gently remove your shoe or boot from the affected foot, and remove your sock carefully as well so you can view the damage. Wriggle your toes to confirm blood circulation.
2. If you have an ACE bandage, wrap it around your ankle. Alternatively, you can add padding around your ankle as well. Fabric, towels, or clothes should work well enough here.
3. Bind the padding down with cordage, straps, duct tape, or your shoelaces. Tighten the binding enough so that your ankle has been immobilized, but not to the point where circulation is caught off and any part of your foot turns blue.
4. Keep pressure off of your foot as you move, and back home, be sure to keep your foot elevated and apply icing or a cool compress to it when you remove the bindings.
A mild sprain will require about a week of rest to recover, while severe sprains can take anywhere from two to three months to make a complete recovery.
The risk of sustaining a burn during a survival or SHTF situation will drastically increase as fires will become relatively common.
There are three categories of burns, which are as follows:
1st Degree Burn – A burn where only the outer layer of skin has been affected. The skin should be red and swollen, and you should feel pain, but the burn doesn’t go all the way through the outer layer of skin.
2nd Degree Burn – A burn that does go through the outer skin, resulting in even more worse pain and swelling than a first degree burn, blisters, and deeply reddened skin around the burn area.
3rd Degree Burn – The most severe type of burn that results in the skin being completely removed and muscle and bone under the skin becoming burned as well. A 3rd degree burn can be life threatening and will result in completely blackened skin.
All three kinds of burns require your immediate medical attention if you sustain them.
For first and second-degree burns, always run cool (but not icy) water over the affected area. Applying cool water (or submerging the burned area in the cool water) for about five minutes is most ideal.
Proceed to loosely cover the burned area with a sterile cloth or bandage, and avoid applying pressure or friction to the affected area. Use OTC medications to help reduce swelling and inflammation. Continue to be easy on the affected area until you have recovered.
3rd degree burns require more substantial treatment. Chances are high that a victim of a third-degree burn will go into shock right away.
Apply the following treatment:
1. Make sure that the source of heat has been removed from the victim.
2. Have the victim lie flat on the ground.
3. Perform CPR and rescue breathing if the victim has stopped breathing or has their airway blocked.
4. Cover the burned area with a cool and clean cloth or bandage. Make sure that any burn blisters sustained are not broken.
5. Elevate the burned area and be careful to not apply too much pressure or friction.
Healing from a third degree burn will require weeks or even months to make a complete recovery, and extensive damage throughout the body will have lingering effects requiring ongoing treatment, possibly for life.
Even the smallest of cuts or lacerations can result in an infection if it is not properly treated, which is why you must treat every cut or open wound you sustain with the same degree of attention.
Here’s what to do:
1. Stop the bleeding. Usually, applying direct pressure to the wound will accomplish this. Take a piece of clean fabric, plastic, or a gauze or bandage (if available) and apply pressure to the site of the wound. Elevating the wound will help as well.
3. Use a clean gauze pad or fabric, soak it in water and soap, and gently scrub the site of the injury. If any pieces of debris are in the wound (such as dirt) remove them with a clean pair of tweezers. Then flush out the wound site with clean water.
4. Apply a bandage that completely covers the site of the wound. You can remove the bandage at night when you sleep to air out the affected site, then reapply a new bandage the next morning. Repeat this process until the injury has healed.
Rashes can develop due to dry skin or by having a reaction to poisonous plants. While it’s important to be able to identify poisonous plants, sometimes we can’t be careful enough and we walk through a brushy area only to come out of it and realize that our skin is suddenly having a negative reaction to something.
The best way to treat a rash is to take a cool compress (such as a clean rag soaked in water) and apply it to the site of the injury. This will help to reduce the pain. Additionally, take off any clothes that came into contact with the poisonous plant and wash them thoroughly as well.
Falls can be among the most serious injuries that you sustain because they can result in fractured bones, which can take a very long time to heal without professional medical attention.
The best way to minimize the damage from a fall is to know how to react if a fall occurs, whether that means tripping over a root jutting out of the ground, falling out of a building, or falling down a steep cliff or ravine.
When falling, always bend your knees and your elbows. Falling with locked knees or elbows is one of the worst ways to fall and greatly increases the odds of sustaining a fracture.
Next, try to land on your side. The most important thing is to avoid falling on your back, for the obvious reason of reducing any damage to your spine. If falling on your side is not possible, falling on your front (while ensuring that your knees and elbows are not locked) is vastly preferable to falling directly on your back.
After sustaining a fall, the first thing you must do is analyze the extent of the damage you’ve taken. Ask yourself where you feel any pain, make sure you can move your arms and legs and your fingers and toes, look all over your body for any sign of cuts or lacerations, then take the appropriate action.
If any bones have been fractured or you have difficulty moving a limb, fashion a splint immediately to stabilize it (tying sticks to your limbs with shoelaces will make for an effective splint in most cases).
For more information, here is our post on how to treat a broken bone.
The top five injuries are the most likely that an individual will sustain in an SHTF situation. Remember, with any of these injuries, the most important thing is to take action immediately. Determine the extent of the damage, then apply treatment based on what we’ve discussed above.
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