Being a prepper is all about knowing the important things to do and have to be prepared for any emergency situation and survive it. And what is one of the most important things you need to master as a prepper?
First aid of course! Simply having a first aid kit is not enough – you need to have the skills to use them as well.
Knowing as many first aid procedures as possible is essential, especially when you are in a situation where you need to wait a while for an ambulance to arrive.
It could be what saves you, or someone else’s, life.
10 First Aid Procedures Every Prepper Should Know
Here is a look at 10 first aid procedures that you, being a prepper, should master.
1. Stop Bleeding
Three types of bleeding can occur from injuries: capillary, venous and arterial. Capillary bleeding occurs when the capillaries have been affected by small wounds, causing blood to ooze out.
While not critical, you still need to stop this type of bleeding to prevent infection. When a vein is severed, it causes venous bleeding in which blood flows out steadily from the wound.
You need to know how to stop this type of bleeding as it can be dangerous at times, especially when more than one vein has been affected. Arterial bleeding causes blood to come out in spurts and it is the most critical type of bleeding.
To stop arterial bleeding, you need to put lots of pressure directly on the wound using a clean, sterile pad. You should also make sure to keep the injured area above the heart elevated.
When bleeding occurs, there are a lot of problems that can follow, depending on how serious the injury is. You need to be concerned about infection, massive blood loss, unconsciousness, etc.
When bleeding occurs when you are in the wilderness or in any survival situation, you need to know how to make a tourniquet. You could improvise by using zip ties, wire or any other strong material you have at hand.
You may have a ready-to-use tourniquet in your kit, but what use is it if you do not know how to put it on quickly.
Apart from knowing how to dress wounds, apply direct pressure to stop bleeding and making and putting on a tourniquet, you also need to know how to insert gauze into a wound cavity to stop severe bleeding from a large wound – EMTs call this a “power ball.”
2. Treat a Fracture
When you are in the wilderness or in an emergency situation, there can be circumstances that cause you to have an accident resulting in a fracture.
It is imperative that you know how to treat it, especially if medical assistance is far away. You should know how to make a splint as this is the correct treatment for this type of injury.
A splint will help in restricting movement, prevent additional pain as well as limit further damage to the injured area. Additionally, when you properly apply a splint, the bone is stabilized in its normal anatomical position.
The good news is that there are quite a few ways that you can make a splint to effectively treat a fracture before you get medical help.
You should be pleased to know that splints do not have to be fancy. All they need to do is provide the area with padding and restrict movement. Typically, you will go to the next joint up – towards the torso.
For instance, if you suspect that a wrist is broken, splint up to the elbow.
Create padding with clothing and sleeping pads and tape or tie sticks around to padding to make it more rigid. It is important to remember not to tie the limb so tightly that it is reduced circulation.
Once you apply the splint, the first thing you should do is get definitive medical care for yourself or the injured person. Make sure that your medical kit has splinting supplies.
There are companies that make light and effective splints that you can carry anywhere. Add a couple of flexible bandages and you are ready to treat a fracture no matter where you are.
3. Clean Wounds
No matter how big or small a cut or wound is, it is important to make sure that you clean and dress it properly.
It could be a capillary wound or a more serious arterial wound. No matter which, every prepper needs to know how to clean wounds. Cleaning wounds properly prevent infection and further damage to the area.
Apart from an infection occurring, bleeding could also start again, and this, as you have read earlier, could cause other serious – potentially fatal – problems.
You should make sure that you stock your first aid kit with sterile dressings as well as cotton balls and irrigation syringes to clean out the wound, and antibiotic ointments to prevent infection.
When you clean a wound, it is important to make sure that your hands are clean. The last thing you want to do is transfer bacteria, etc. to the wound while you are in the process of trying to clean it!
It is a good idea to have a couple of surgical gloves in your kit. Before the actual cleaning process, it is important to stop any bleeding that might be occurring.
Use irrigation syringes and sterile swabs or cotton balls to flush and clean out the wound. Next, apply antibiotic ointment to the wound and then dress it with a gauze bandage.
A lot of people tend to ignore small cuts and wounds, thinking that they do not require first aid.
However, you should bear in mind that even small nicks and cuts do require cleaning at the very least, especially if you are in the wilderness.
Infection can lead to a wide range of other problems, so it is best to clean your wounds, no matter how small, and tend to them using the supplies in your first aid kit.
4. Applying a Tourniquet
As mentioned earlier, it is crucial to know how to apply a tourniquet, and when you are away from, civilization, you can improvise one from wire, zip ties, etc.
If you or a friend has a wound with severe bleeding, the pressure dressing you have may not effectively control it. So, what do you do when this happens? The answer is to make a tourniquet.
The good news is that they are simple to make so you can fashion one and use it before you or someone else bleeds out too severely. Now, making a tourniquet is the easy part. Even Harry Solomon from Third Rock From The Sun can figure this out.
The important thing is to know how to apply one. First off, you should know how to do it fast.
You should be able to put one on in 15 seconds or less because an injury that is serious enough to require a tourniquet will cause anyone to suffer a massive blood loss that can result in unconsciousness in less than a minute – death could occur in 2 minutes.
It is important to train with tourniquets on a regular basis. This is the best way to learn how to put it on yourself or someone else as quickly as possible.
With serious wounds that cause massive bleeding, quick action is critical, making it extremely important that you learn how to apply a tourniquet. You should make sure to add one, or several, ready-to-use tourniquets in your first aid kit, and know how to use them.
5. Perform CPR
This is one of the most important first aid procedures to master. Everyone- prepper or not – should know how to perform CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
This emergency procedure is used to manually move the heart and lungs, which in turn helps to preserve brain function until breathing and heartbeat can begin again on their own.
It might seem like a simple technique, but you should bear in mind that things like knowing where you need to push, how far down the chest you should push, and how fast you should push all play a critical role.
CPR roots date back to the 1700s, but there have been small changes made to the technique over the years. This form of resuscitation is being taught nowadays as a hands-only method – the mouth-to-mouth component is no longer a part of CPR.
However, if you are in the wilderness and performing CPR, you may eventually need to breathe for the person you are performing CPR on.
Similar to the Heimlich maneuver, it is not enough to simply know the steps to perform CPR. You actually need to practice them.
When you try out CPR for the first time, you might be surprised by just how hard you have to push down while doing the chest compressions. It is important to keep in mind that the goal of these compressions is to pump the heart manually.
You need to push down roughly 2 inches and you also need to make sure that you do it quickly – 30 times at a rate of 100 pumps per minute.
6. Treat Fever and Respiratory Infections
Did you know that very few people know how to treat a fever properly?
While you can, and should, get professional medical attention to treat severe fevers in an everyday situation, you should also know how to treat fever in case you are in a survival situation.
Needless to say, you will not be able to get to an ER, so it is imperative that you know the steps to reduce the fever yourself.
The first thing to treat a fever is to make sure that the patient gets plenty of fluids as it can cause loss of fluids and dehydration. One of the best ways to treat a fever is a sponge bath with lukewarm water.
You should also try to avoid using too many extra blankets if you start having chills. Rest is important when you have a fever as an activity can cause the body temperature to rise.
You can also make yourself or the person with the fever more comfortable by using cold compresses and wearing light clothing.
The good news is that fevers usually go away on their own. However, there are cases when they go on for more than a day.
In such cases, it is important to seek medical attention as quickly as possible. You should make sure that your first aid kit has over-the-counter fever reducers like ibuprofen and aspirin.
If you feel a fever coming on, be sure to take a pill quickly to prevent it from making you ill during an emergency situation.
7. Treat Shock
You experience shock when there is not enough blood circulating to the brain, which means that the brain is not getting enough oxygen.
When this occurs, you may feel dizzy, faint, anxious, disoriented or look pale, have a weak pulse and have slow breathing.
There are many reasons that shock can occur, such as when you have lost a lot of blood, an injury that causes fluid loss, or an infection.
When you or anyone else goes into shock, it is important to know what to do to treat it and prevent it from leading to other medical problems. This is especially true when you are in an emergency situation where medical help is miles away.
If someone is in shock, the first thing you should do is make them lie on their back with their feet elevated.
This is to help in better blood circulation to the brain. It is also important to make sure that the person is warm so you should cover them with a blanket.
You should also keep in mind that anyone in shock should never be given water as it could result in choking.
If you are in the wilderness or in a situation where you cannot get to an ER quickly to get treatment for shock, you will find it helpful to know how to treat it yourself in the meantime.
Fortunately, it is easy to treat the problem before you get actual medical attention. This is definitely a first aid procedure you should learn and master as a prepper.
8. Treat Hypothermia
A common hazard in the outdoors, hypothermia is the chilling of the core temperature of the body.
Prime conditions for this highly dangerous malady can seem innocuous: your clothes get wet, the air temperature drops, and the wind picks up.
You need to make sure that you are alert to the environmental conditions for hypothermia as well as other signs, including those of mild hypothermia such as tingling or numb skin, slurred speech, and muscles that are sluggish.
There may also be some shivering. Signs of moderate hypothermia include blue lips (and ears and digits), pale skin, strong shivering, and clumsiness.
Those who suffer from severe hypothermia will have trouble speaking and walking. They may also be forgetful, sleepy and do irrational things like burrowing into the snow, taking off their clothes, etc.
The main treatment for hypothermia is to rewarm the patient, which you can do in various ways. For mild cases, make them wear dry clothes and give them high-calorie food and warm beverages to help them “jump start” their own ability to generate body heat.
Called external rewarming, adding mild warmth is another treatment you can use. Skin contact with a warm person or placing a hot water bottle under their armpits can do wonders.
Keep in mind that you should never try aggressive methods with external rewarming. Saunas, hot tubs and hot baths can cause deadly heart conditions in people with hypothermia.
You should also make sure never to strike them in the chest or drop them while carrying them as it can lead to fibrillation, which can be deadly if it is not quickly and properly treated.
9. Treat Digestive Problems
Digestive problems can occur at any time. Although many people think that the problem will go away on its own, you should bear in mind that such problems can become serious quite quickly and require emergency medical treatment.
Food poisoning, diarrhea, etc. are digestive issues that can strike during survival situations.
If you are caught in such a situation, you should know the first aid procedures to treat the problem and be prepared to keep the person comfortable and alright until they can get actual medical help.
When you are in a survival situation and need to treat a digestive problem, the first thing you should do is give the patient plenty of fluids. Dehydration can increase the chances of making the problem worse.
Rest is important, and although it is imperative to get medical assistance quickly, you need to make sure that they get as much rest as possible and avoid strenuous activities like walking.
Make them lie down on their front to ease the pain. While you may have over-the-counter acid reducers or antacids in your first aid kit, they can help recover quickly from stomachache.
However, you should take such OTC medicines only after consulting a doctor. To control nausea and vomiting, it is a good idea to eat light, bland foods, like bread, saltine crackers or bananas.
Again, it is recommended that you avoid taking anti-nausea or anti-diarrhea medication without consulting a doctor as they have side effects, and some types of diarrhea can get worse when you take them.
If diarrhea or vomiting does not pass even after a long period of time, you should drink an oral rehydration solution.
10. Treat Dental Problems
Dental emergencies may not seem very common, but they do occur – and sometimes at the worst times.
So, what do you do when you or someone else has a mouth or dental injury? If you are a prepper, you will know exactly what you need to do to treat the problem.
You should bear in mind that the neck and head trauma can cause dental injury, such as broken teeth, displaced teeth, or teeth knocked totally out of the mouth.
If there are pain and swelling, one of the first things you should do is place a cold pack outside the cheeks or lips or inside the mouth over the injured tooth.
This will help in reducing the pain and swelling before you can get to a dentist. For toothaches, you should first inspect where the pain is coming from.
Food lodged there could be the cause. If this is the case, remove it with dental floss, brush your teeth and then place a cold compress over the affected area.
You can take an OTC painkiller like aspirin for pain that persists. For a fractured or broken tooth, brush your teeth to clean the area and gargle with an antiseptic mouthwash.
If there is a pain, take aspirin or place a cold compress over it. For sores in your mouth, you should clean your mouth to prevent food debris from irritating them. Even tough guys like Jack Bauer have to take care of themselves.
Again, you can use a cold compress to reduce pain. If you do not have an antiseptic mouthwash in your kit, you can use a warm salt solution which has antiseptic properties that can kill any virus that may be causing the sore and keep it from spreading.
Remember that these are just temporary solutions for dental problems. You should visit your dentist as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment.
First aid involves a combination of simple medical procedures and common sense. If you are a prepper, you should definitely train on these simple techniques. They do not require a lot of equipment or medical experience.
As you have seen, there are first aid procedures that you can learn to prepare you for any medical emergency that happens during a survival situation. As a prepper, it’s crucial to make sure that you master these procedures.
There is nothing like having the knowledge and skill to temporarily treat medical emergencies before an ambulance arrives or you can actually get to an ER.
Mastering these first aid procedures could help you save someone’s life, including your own.