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Whether you essentially live in the great outdoors or simply enjoy an occasional camping trip from time to time, a few wounds here and there are inevitable. Injuries such as tiny cuts that trickle or deeper gouges, minor scrapes, or larger abrasions are pretty common among those who go out in the wild. Consequently, knowing how to care for them is a really great skill to have.
Without proper treatment, something as minuscule as an itty-bitty minor cut on a finger or a slightly scraped knee can quickly become infected, ultimately requiring you to cut your fun-filled outdoor activities short to seek professional care from a doctor.
Interested in learning more? Keep reading.
No matter how prepared you may be for your outdoor adventure, injuries can happen at any time. This is why it’s crucial to understand how to stop external bleeding while you’re in the wilderness. If you don’t treat your skin wounds, you’re risking infection and scarring. While a little scar may be no big deal, an infection can be serious and, in some cases, even life-threatening.
So, what’s the best way to stop bleeding? Follow these easy steps:
Before you start to treat a skin wound, you should first identify its severity as best you can. Why? Because there are some situations in which you really shouldn’t try to administer first aid of any kind.
For instance, if you suspect that there is internal bleeding or if there happens to be an embedded object surrounding the site of injury, call 9-1-1 immediately and leave first aid to the pros.
Also, it’s best to seek immediate care for a wound or cut if:
If your pal is bleeding profusely, be on the lookout for signs of shock. Cold, clammy skin and a loss of consciousness can all indicate that a person is about to go into shock from blood loss.
This is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Have your injured person lie down on the floor as you both wait calmly for medical care to arrive. Moving around could cause further injury.
Once you’ve assessed the skin wound and find it doesn’t require immediate attention, you can move forward to help stop the bleeding, but first — wash your hands!
It doesn’t matter if it’s a tiny scrape or a huge cut; sanitizing your hands prior to administering first aid is extremely important. You don’t want to introduce icky bacteria or parasites to an injured area. This might be a little challenging when you’re out in the wild, but it certainly isn’t possible.
First, take a look at your inventory. If you’re properly prepared, you may have sanitizing supplies already that can quickly cleanse your hands. Medical gloves can also reduce germ exposure. Whenever you plan a trip in the great outdoors, it’s best to be prepared for the unexpected by having a well-stocked first-aid kit.
Not sure where to find one? Check out our Stealth Angel Survival Field Medic First Aid Kit! With 36 first aid supplies, this medic bag essentially bursts at the seams with everything from tools like fire-starters and glass breakers to bandages, clean cloth, compresses, swabs, and more.
If you don’t have the ability to properly sterilize your hands, your next best bet is ash. While you should only use your bare hands as a last resort, this can work. Yup, it’s true: believe it or not, ash has antimicrobial properties.
Simply make a quick paste of ashes and clean water before thoroughly scrubbing your hands and rinsing. Make your ash from burning hardwoods and avoid pine as it tends to leave behind a resinous residue.
Now that your hands are squeaky clean, it’s time to slow the flow!
Whether you accidentally sliced yourself with your handy-dandy pocket knife or scraped your knee on a rock, the first step in actually treating a skin wound is to get the bleeding under control. There are two primary methods to control bleeding: with a pressure dressing or with direct pressure.
A third option would be using a tourniquet which can help to control severe bleeding, but that’s something we’ll cover in a later article. Today, we’re talking all about skin wounds with minor—not life-threatening—bleeding.
Not exactly sure what a pressure dressing is? Don’t worry, not very many people do! Simply put, it’s a large dressing that’s put securely in place on top of a skin wound to apply...you guessed it...pressure to stop the bleeding.
One of the best benefits of using a pressure dressing to slow the flow is that it frees up your hands to work on other tasks.
Check out the following steps for how to apply a pressure dressing to a skin wound:
And voila! Once the pressure dressing is applied, check your friend’s circulation, sensation, and movement to make sure you didn’t wrap the dressing too tightly. The idea is to slow the flow, not cut off circulation completely.
This method is pretty simple: find the source of the bleeding and apply direct pressure to that spot. Then, if you can, elevate the wound above your friend’s heart while maintaining pressure. Why? Because elevation slows blood flow simply because it’s much more difficult to flow uphill than downhill.
Keep your hands on the wound for roughly ten minutes of pressure. And whatever you do, resist the urge to take a quick sneak peek. Breaking the delicate platelet barrier too soon can cause the person's blood to start flowing again. You see, the idea is to keep pressure on the wound long enough so that a clot can form. Once a blood clot forms on the wound, the bleeding should stop.
Has the bleeding finally stopped? Perfect. Now it’s time to cleanse the wound.
Cleansing a skin wound prevents potentially life-endangering infections. Plus, the trauma site won’t heal properly unless you thoroughly remove all the dirt and debris.
Locate a source of fresh running water and gently wash the general area of the wound for a few minutes. If you have an antiseptic ointment in your survival kit, this is the time to use it.
Otherwise, a piece of sterile gauze or clean fabric dipped in saline to scrub away all the dirt and debris from the wound will do just fine. If you have soap, that will work too. However, it’s very important that you never apply soap to an open wound. This can cause serious irritation and slow down the healing process.
Is there still dirt or debris lodged in the wound? Check your kit for medical tweezers and proceed carefully.
Minor scrapes and abrasions are best to be left uncovered so that they can breathe. Plus, your body will quickly form a scab that essentially acts as a natural bandage to heal these smaller wounds. If the wound is larger, on the other hand, it’s best to dress them in layers of fabric like gauze or bandages until they are no longer at risk for infection.
So, what’s the best way to stop bleeding from skin wounds, you ask?
Simply put: by applying pressure!
First aid is something every person who spends a lot of time in Mother Nature should learn. Whether you’re a casual camper or a hardcore survivalist, it’s of the utmost importance that you learn how to assess a skin wound, stop the bleeding and learn how to treat it. Be a step ahead of the unexpected...it may save someone’s life (or your own) one day.
Here at Stealth Angel Survival, our items have been hand-selected by our incredible experts to get you through any type of situation in the best way possible. From first aid kits to survival bug out bags and everything in between, you can count on us to keep you and your family protected.
Don’t settle for poor-quality survival equipment because you never know when your life may depend on it.