First Aid?

Everyone will get hurt somehow during the course of their lives, it’s just a matter of time.  When this happen there is a large variety of products out there to patch up the minor incidents.  These products are good, certainly, when they are well made, sterile, and can be applied correctly.  Oh yeah, they’re also great WHEN YOU HAVE THEM.  That’s right, you can prepare as crazy as you like, but once in a while you just aren’t near a first aid kit that has what you need.  No reason to bleed out or suffer while leaking blood, however, because there are less perfect, but still efficient ways to approximate MOST First Aid supplies.  They may not be as sterile or as suited to the purpose, so use the real stuff when you can, and only try these makeshift versions at your own risk. 

Duct tape.  Better than a band -aid in many situations, being more waterproof.  If you have an especially juicy or bleeding wound, some paper towel, TP, or tissue underneath is good as a pad.  Use any kind of antibiotic you have on hand because this is NOT STERILE AT ALL.  It WILL keep you from bleeding everywhere until you can get real medical supplies or help though.  It is also terrific to apply to abrasions or blisters.  When you can get the abraded area clean and dry before applying, it’ll act like a second skin for a good few hours (MOST useful when hiking).  

Super Glue:  It’s the base of all “liquid bandage” products.  If you have it, mix in some clove oil to act as an antiseptic, and you’ve just made your own!  (The author has also heard of soldiers using it to seal bullet wounds, and agrees with the logic behind it, but does not recommend trying.  Hell, the author does not recommend getting shot either.) 

Grease:  An automotive enthusiast once told the author how you could smear heavy grease into small or medium cuts to stop the bleeding.  The author, doing his own auto work and skinning a knuckle, tried this and will say it works.  The cleaning after, and exposure to carcinogens can’t lead him to recommend this, however.

Ash:  Ash comes from fire.  Fire sterilizes most things.  Hence, if you need to staunch a little bleeding, ash can work.  It will also promote a HUGE keltoid scar, so don’t do this where cosmetic appearances are a concern.

Booze:  Need to clean a wound?  Wash it with red wine or stronger booze.  Again, especially with a heavy red, you may color the resulting scar, so be aware.

Clove oil:  Found sold most often for “aroma therapy”.  It is also a natural antiseptic (so only buy it pure, no additive / preservatives if you want to use it as such).  Since oil isn’t water soluble, it is harder to clean from a wound, so if you douse a BIG cut or burn in it you’ll have to get it scrubbed out when you reach a hospital.  It’s also included with some toothache temporary treatment kits to deaden cavity pain (by killing the nerve.  Again, be aware what you’re doing to yourself.)

Dental floss (waxed only) / monofilament fishing line:  Yes, with a needle these CAN be used to suture wounds.  Since they’re not sold sterile though, they have a greater chance of infection.  The dental floss, not being solid (multiple strands, even with wax), can get grown into healing flesh, or let infection in more easily than the monofilament.  (Author’s opinion, REAL sutures are worth the hospital co-pay if you have the choice.)

Sea water:  Saline, aka salt water, is often used to rinse wounds in medical setting.  Guess what the ocean is full of (with higher salt content and other stuff).  Be aware of pollution in harbors or near land, but by and large, a quick sluice is never a bad thing to wash out a wound with.

Urine:  When it leaves the body, urine is sterile.  Yes, it is gross, and gets even grosser as bacteria and yeasts from the air settle and propagate in it.  It MIGHT be better than whatever other gunk or dirt is in or on the wound.  Needless to say, only use fresh.  (NOTE:  Pissing on jellyfish stings is NOT a good idea.  Any unfired stinging cells WILL be fired by contact with the urine, causing even more pain / poisoning.)

It should be reiterated in closing that while these ARE somewhat viable first aid techniques, they are imperfect ones.  Basic first aid training defers to professional medical care because IT WORKS WELL.  The author however, has been outside range or feasibility of quick professional help, and used these ideas (except for the toothache one), and has lived to tell about it.  This may, and likely IS dumb luck, so take care, and save the trouble by not getting hurt in the first place!