If you are in a survival situation, or in a post-collapse scenario, professional medical care may not be readily available or even accessible. It is a good idea to know how to treat many basic injuries and illnesses on your own and to have a large, well stocked emergency first aid kit. Both of these will be a huge asset to you if you need to treat wounds without a hospital or doctor nearby.
Basic first aid training will give you the skills you need to care for most minor – and some major injuries – so it is a good idea to go through a local Red Cross Certification in First Aid and Basic Lifesaving Skills to get an idea of how to care for the majority of wounds you will come across. In addition, everyone above the age of 5 or so should know how to safely clean and cover minor cuts or scrapes on themselves or younger family members.
Here are some general first aid supplies you should have on hand in your emergency kit or bug out bag: gauze, adhesive bandages, peroxide, alcohol wipes, antibiotic cream or spray, liquid bandage gel. You might also consider a suture kit and tweezers, scissors, and numbing gel, as well as several essential oils that are skin healing and antiseptic in nature. It’s probably also smart to have a box of latex gloves and sanitary napkins (they also can make a great bandage) in there, too.
So, for most minor cuts, scrapes and gashes- you’re going to be able to treat by keeping the wound clean and dry, and disinfected. This is fairly easy to do, and is minimally invasive. You would just watch for any signs of infection around the injury and treat it as needed. Most injures like this will heal in a few days to a couple of weeks.
Major wound care is a little more tricky – you need to know which kind require wet dressings, and which require dry dressings. Here’s how to do both dry and wet dressing care:
Dry dressing a wound isn’t difficult. It mostly involves changing the bandages and keeping the injured area clean and dry. This is typically for small wounds, cuts or gashes that might have stitches, or ones that don’t have a lot of fluid draining from the wound. Daily you would change the bandages, clean and dry the area, and apply any antiseptic cream. If the bandage sticks as you are taking it off – you can wet it with warm water to make removal a little easier. Dry dressings are pretty easy to care for, too. Most people either tape or bandage them down to help the gauze cover the area.
Wet dressing is for wounds that have a lot of draining and oozing. Wet dressings are created by soaking the bandages or gauze with saline. You still clean and disinfect the area, then apply the wet bandage. As it dries, it will absorb any fluids and any dead skin on the area. Wet dressings need to be changed more often, and kept covered with bandages. You remove them the same way as dry dressings- using warm water to loosen them if you need to.
One article I read suggested getting an older medical manual to put in your emergency kit – from the 1940’s even – it will give a lot of helpful advice on treating these types of injuries. You should also put a modern first aid manual in there, too.
If you are treating someone whose wound is not getting better – please seek out some type of medical professional. You don’t want to risk infection setting in, which could have disastrous results. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when dealing with wounds that need dressing. Again, being prepared ahead of time can help you to keep a level head when you have to treat these kind of injuries in a crisis situation.