Adventist Youth Honors Answer Book/First aid/Infection
Open wounds are a serious hazard in a survival situation, not only because of the tissue damage and blood loss, but also because of the increased possibility of infection. Little can be done to prevent wound contamination at the time of the injury. Proper wound care can minimize further contamination and promote healing and preservation of function in the injured part.
- Clothing should be cut or torn away from a wound; drawing clothes over the wound may introduce bacteria into the wound.
- Whenever possible, avoid touching the wound with fingers or any unsterile object. All water and instruments used in wound care should be sterilized by boiling. Washing your hands before you treat any wound is very important in keeping down infection.
- Clean all wounds as soon after occurrence as possible. Only antiseptics especially designed to use in open wounds should be used directly in the wound.
- Common antiseptics such as Merthiolate, iodine, and Mercurochrome should never be applied directly to a wound. These solutions destroy only part of the bacteria and actually damage the exposed tissues.
- When cleansing solutions for wounds are not available, and medical attention will not be available for a while, a suitable substitute may be a poultice made of fern root. To prepare a poultice, you boil finely chopped roots in water until syrupy. Allow the poultice to cool and apply directly to the wound.
- The “open treatment” method is the safest way to manage wounds in a survival situation. No attempt should be made to close a wound by stitching. The wound should be left open to permit drainage of pus from infection. As long as a wound can drain, it generally will not become life threatening. If a wound is gaping, the edges can be brought together with adhesive tape cut in the form of a butterfly or dumbbell. When a butterfly bandage is applied properly, only a small portion of the adhesive is in contact with the wound; but a large surface of the tape is in contact with the skin on either side of the wound, providing traction that pulls the edges of the wound together. The narrow center permits some free drainage from the wound, and the strips can be removed easily if the wound has to be opened should infection develop.