Some useful ideas here, folks…even if you do not implement them, useful knowledge nonetheless…
Building a First-Aid Kit
While first-aid isn’t considered one of the top three or four survival priorities, there are times when it can jump to number one. The thing is, we never know when someone in our family or survival team is going to be injured. That’s bad enough by itself; but in the wake of a disaster, hospitals and other medical treatment facilities tend to become overrun. With that being the case, the first-aid we’re able to offer our family members is even more critical. If transportation is a problem, it might be the only medical treatment they receive.
Being able to treat injuries yourself, there in your home or at your survival retreat is therefore an essential skill. Of course, if you happen to have an Army medic on tap, then you can probably get away without learning it yourself. But if you don’t, then you probably need to learn at least the basics and have a good first aid kit to use.
Different people define first-aid in different ways, but it basically boils down to:
- Cleaning the wound to prevent infection
- Stopping blood flow
- Keeping the patient from dying of shock
In order to accomplish that, certain medical supplies are needed. While it is theoretically possible to use cobwebs or dried moss to stop the blood flow, we’re really better off using sterile medical supplies. But buying one of those $19.95 first-aid kits in the local pharmacy won’t do it; you’re going to need much more, something more along the lines of a trauma kit. While those are available for purchase, you can also make your own.
You’ll need a good case to keep your kit in. I like to use a large fishing tackle box, because the cantilevered trays offer a lot of small compartments for the little things. But a cardboard box will work, if the supplies will fit in it and you can keep them organized.
Take the time to learn how to use all these things, as well as general wound treatment. If you ever need to use that knowledge, it could save a family member’s life.
Personal Protection Equipment
You have to start with basic personal protection equipment, so that you can prevent the spread of disease:
- Medical masks
- Surgical gloves
- Goggles or face shield
- Hand sanitizer
- CPR mask
Supplies for Stopping Blood Flow
The biggest part of the kit will be the necessary supplies for stopping the bleeding:
- Irrigation syringe or bottle
- Alcohol or alcohol wipes
- Clotting agent
- Israeli bandage
- Antibacterial ointment
- Adhesive bandages (the cloth type are better)
- Larger bandages (2”x 3”, 4”x 6”, etc.)
- Medical tape (both normal and the cohesive type)
- Gauze rolls
- Gauze pads
- Chest seal (for placing over a puncture to the chest cavity)
Supplies for Broken Bones
While not as common, it’s a good idea to be prepared to treat broken bones and sprains:
- Sam splint
- Elastic bandages
- Combat cravat (sling)
- Instant cold packs
Then there are the things you’ll need to have, so that you can treat the patient:
- Medical scissors
- CAT tourniquet
- Fine pointed tweezers
- Eye cup
- Blood pressure cuff
- Blood sugar monitor
- In the ear thermometer
- Pulse oximeter
- Chest decompression needle
- Nasal pharangeal airway
- Survival blanket
It’s impossible to stock all the medicines you might need. But you can stock some over the counter meds. That will help with a lot. If you can get them, antibiotics will be even more important.
- Antihistamines (Benadryl)
- Decongestant (Sudafed)
- Anti-diarrhea medicine
- Cortisone cream
- Pain relievers
- Lidocaine (a topical anesthetic cream for temporarily numbing the skin)
Also, pick up a Gamma Shield to protect your body from harmful radiation.
Keeping Your Home Warm When The Power Is Out
One of the most critical things we lose, when we lose electrical power, is the ability to heat our homes. Even if you have gas heat, the blower and controls for that heating unit will be powered by electricity. Even gas-fired hot water heating requires electricity for pumps and controls.
Fortunately for us, our ancestors before us had to heat their homes without electricity. This was usually done by burning wood, although coal, heating oil, dung and other materials have been used in different times and places. The big advantage that wood has over any of these (except perhaps dung), is the ease in which we can harvest it from nature, using only a minimum of tools and equipment.
But harvesting the wood is not enough; if we don’t have any place to burn that wood. That means installing a fireplace or wood-burning stove in the home. Of the two, a wood-burning stove is the better option, as it will radiate heat from all sides, whereas a fireplace only radiates it into the home from the front. Any heat radiated out the back usually goes outdoors.
The problem for most of us is installing them into the home, specifically installing the chimney. If you own a one-story home, the chimney only has to go up through the attic. But if you own a two-story one, then you’ve got to find someplace you can run the chimney, where it won’t be going through the middle of a room.
Another option is to run the chimney out through the wall and up the side of the home. While this may not be as attractive, it is effective. It can even be done temporarily during a time of emergency, running the chimney out a window and closing up the space around it. Just make sure the chimney goes at least three feet above the roof, so that the smoke doesn’t come back into the home. Create a fireproof base for the stove to sit on, either out of brick or tile.
But just putting in a fireplace or wood-burning stove isn’t going to be enough. You’re going to need a stock of firewood and it will need time to dry, before you use it. Depending on how cold it is where you are and the type of wood you get, it’s possible to go through from three to six cords of wood in a winter.
Even with that, you’re going to find that the fireplace won’t heat your entire home, but only the room that it is in. In order for it to heat the entire home, you would need an additional set of air ducts, which captures warmed air from your fire and circulates it through the home. That isn’t normally done.
What our ancestors did (except those who were very wealthy) was to heat the main living area of their home and perhaps the kitchen. Bedrooms weren’t heated. Often, the children slept in the loft, which would be the warmest part of the house. If the parents had a private bedroom, the only heat would be body heat, under a pile of blankets, after the bed had been warmed up with a bed warmer. That’s workable, but not what we’re used to.
Adopting the idea of using a bed warmer, as well as a soapstone to carry heat from the fire to various places in the home and wagon, like those ancestors did, is a great survival means of keeping ourselves warm. While it might not be the climate controlled luxury we’re used to, we will survive.
Also, use something like SurvivaLighter to make fire, even when the power is down and you have no matches.
Hypothermia – The Biggest Killer In The Wild
If I were to ask you what the biggest killer in the wild was, you’d probably start thinking of some sort of wild animal. From there, you might go on to think about the various types of accidents someone might have. But chances are, you’d miss the big killer… hypothermia.
Before we go on, let me see if I can eliminate some common confusion. There are two different conditions: hypothermia and hyperthermia. Both can be dangerous; but people confuse which is which all the time. Hypothermia refers to too little core body heat, while hyperthermia refers to too much. Both contain the core word “thermia” which tells us that it refers to heat, while the prefix tells us which heat issue it is. The easy way to remember, is that a hyperactive child is one with too much activity, just like hyperthermia is too much body heat.
But we’re interested in hypothermia, not hyperthermia. While both conditions can kill you, hyperthermia, which is sometimes referred to as “exposure” or “freezing to death,” is a much more common problem to encounter in the wild. It debilitates the individual, affecting their cognitive functions. Someone suffering from even a mild case of hypothermia can walk right past their car, which can warm them back up and save their life, without even realizing it.
Hypothermia can happen anytime, not just when it is cold out. We have to realize that with a nominal core body temperature of 98.6°F, most of the time the ambient air temperature is lower than our body temperature. Therefore, we’re pretty much always radiating heat. When we radiate it faster than our body can produce it, the result is hypothermia.
There are a number of different things which can cause our bodies to lose heat faster than they produce it:
- Cold temperatures – The greater the difference between our body temperature and the ambient temperature, the greater the faster we lose body heat.
- Wind – When it’s windy, the wind is constantly blowing away that slightly warmer layer of air right around our bodies. If we are sweating, it will make that sweat evaporate more quickly, absorbing heat from our bodies.
- Water – The biggest risk is from getting wet. If we fall in the water or get caught in the rain, that water will draw heat out of our bodies faster than the ambient air can. Because our clothing is wet, it can’t provide any insulation, protecting us.
- Malnutrition – While malnutrition isn’t a cause of hypothermia, it can make it harder for our bodies to fight against it, because we don’t have the necessary energy to produce heat.
- Inactivity – The main way that our bodies generate heat is through chemical reactions, specifically the chemical reactions necessary to keep everything working properly. When we are inactive, our muscles are not burning sugar, generating heat.
Many people die of hypothermia not because they are out in the wintertime; but because they fall in the water just before sundown, in a place where the temperature drops quickly at sundown. The combination of dropping temperatures and wet clothing will cause the person to lose their body heat quickly.
There are a number of things that can be done, if they are starting to head into hypothermia. These should be done immediately; as one of the first things affected is the ability to think clearly is one of the first things to go in any case of hypothermia:
- Take off wet clothing. If other clothing or a blanket is available, wrap up in that. Don’t just use a rescue blanket alone, as it is a heat reflector and doesn’t have any insulating value.
- Start a fire for heat
- Get in a car, start the engine and turn on the heater
- Drink warm liquids
- Share body heat
Also, use something like SurvivaLighter to make fire, even when the power is down and you have no matches.