Survival Skills: How to Improvise Medical Supplies During an Emergency

When the roads are out, or it's not safe to travel during an emergency, having the medical gear you need can be a godsend. But what if you don't have what you need and are forced to make do with the materials at hand?

There are plenty of DIY medical supplies that can be created for materials that you may have on hand at home, in your vehicle, or packed up in your outdoor gear.

Butterfly strips: Small pieces of duct tape can be snipped with scissors to create butterfly dressings to hold cuts closed. Snip them twice on each of the long sides, and fold the middle under to create a no-stick section that would float over the laceration.

Dressings: Although they are not sterile, feminine hygiene pads can provide you with a decent wound dressing. Tampons are a bit more sterile, and they can be laid sideways on a wound. Strap down any of these dressings with clean cloth strips, tape, or any other binding you have at hand.

Burn Gel: In camp and at home, burns are a very common and very painful injury. When you are lacking burn gel to treat this type of injury, you can make a comparable product from toothpaste. Smear a light coating of toothpaste onto the dressing for the wound and then apply the dressing to the wound. Petroleum jelly wiped on the dressing can work, too.

Insect Sting Relief: Mom's old remedy for bee stings can be found in most kitchens. Mix meat tenderizer and a drop or two of water into a paste and apply it directly to the sting or bite. It won't help a rattlesnake bite, but hornet, wasp, scorpion, and ant stings can be somewhat abated with this mix.

Splints: A broken or sprained limb can be a major hindrance and hurt every time you move. Splints are one of the easiest pieces of medical gear to improvise. Your goal is immobilization, which can be achieved with any number of rigid items and binding materials. Sticks and cord can make a splint in the field. Boards and duct tape can make an even better splint in an urban survival scenario. Make sure you stuff adequate padding in the splint to properly stabilize the limb and ease your patient's pain. Pad with toilet paper or newspaper crumbled up, spare clothing or anything else that works.
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Disinfectant:** This may be one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Keep infections at bay by applying hand sanitizer or liquor to topical wounds. Yes, it will hurt, but it's better to hurt now and heal than to let a wound become infected, which will result in a lot more pain later.

Tell us what you have done to improvise medical gear in the comments.