Survival Update

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Treating A Serious Wound in a Survival Situation

Before we even get started on this article, let me state the obvious: if you or anyone you are with suffers a serious wound, get to a doctor if at all possible. This article is wound advice for situations when medical personnel are not available. This might be while wilderness hiking, during a major natural disaster, or when the most extreme happens and society has a partial or total collapse and no doctors are present to help.

If a serious cut happens when no professional medical help is available, the first concern should be to stop the wound from bleeding. Using hands or bandages, apply well-aimed direct pressure. Continue the pressure until the bleeding stops or slows considerably. In more extreme circumstances, it may not be possible to stop the bleeding with pressure alone. In these cases, you may find the need for an emergency tourniquet.

A recent study found that when a civilian correctly used a tourniquet, the odds of a victim surviving increased by a whopping 600%, so this is a skill that could literally save the day. The time to apply this skill is when the blood flowing from a limb is bright red and is forcefully pumping out of the wound to the rhythm of the heart. Tourniquets are for limbs only, and the point is to cut off blood flow before it reaches the wound, while you or someone else attempts to stop the bleeding by direct pressure. A tourniquet has to be very tight (yes, it is painful) and between the wound and the heart.

Tourniquets are pretty simple. You’re applying enough pressure around the entire limb to collapse blood vessels and stop blood flow- like pinching off a garden hose by squeezing it. You can purchase a tourniquet by doing an online search for tourniquet strap. They are also often available in medical supply shops. These straps have a lever or bar to twist to tighten the strap further than you can with just your fingers alone. The art of applying a tourniquet can save a life in a survival situation, so learning to use one correctly is a critical skill. There is a course available through FEMA called “Stop the Bleed.” This course can be accessed online and may prove to be invaluable.

Now let’s discuss a wound that does not have uncontrolled bleeding. Maybe you’ve stopped the blood flow through the use of a tourniquet, or maybe a tourniquet wasn’t necessary and simple direct pressure did the trick. You may think that you absolutely must close the wound, but it is actually more desirable to clean the cut and then leave it open for a day or two. It can be covered with bandages to keep it clean and protected. If closing the wound seems advisable after a couple of days (like if it is in an area with activity or tension), the best choice is almost always to use steri-strips or butterfly bandages. Keep these items in your medical kit at all times.

To summarize, it is always best to get professional help if you can. If the situation makes that impossible, it can be life-saving to have the knowledge and supplies necessary to deal with a serious wound. Take a course to learn the proper way to use a tourniquet, then go online or to a medical supply house to stock up on a tourniquet and steri-strips and butterfly bandages. It could be a matter of life or death to a family or community member in a survival situation.