First Aid for Cuts and Wounds: The Basics

Accidents happen. Whether your just out for a hike or are trying to survive in the woods, countless hazards exist. It is important to know basic first aid for cuts and wounds so that you can take proper action when needed. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to do.

First Aid for Cuts and Wounds: Be Prepared

The most important thing to staying safe when out in the wilderness is your first aid kit. You should never leave home with out. A basic first aid kit should include at least these items:

  • Soap/rubbing alcohol.
  • Bandages and gauze.
  • Sterile pads.
  • Medical tape.
  • Antibacterial ointment.
  • Cortisone cream for insect bites.
  • Antifungal cream or powder.
  • Small scissors.
  • Tweezers. Ticks and splinters need to be removed and cleaned immediately.
  • Moleskin. Getting a blister and not being able to treat it can end a trip very quickly.
  • Ibuprofen or aspirin.
  • Antihistamine. You may be allergic to things you’ve never come into contact.
  • Lip balm
  • Hand lotion
  • Hand sanitizer

With these items in your pack, here are the steps you should take to treat cuts and wounds.

Step 1: Asses the Danger

If someone gets hurt, take a moment to asses the scene. This might consist of looking around. You want to make sure the situation is no longer dangerous. Proceed with caution when approaching people who have fallen. Once you’ve determined the area to be safe,  you can move forward with treating the wound.

Step 2: Determine if help is needed/possible

Take a second to assess the seriousness of the situation.  If you deem it necessary and it’s possible to do so, call for help or send someone out to get assistance. Notifying someone right away could be a matter of life or death. Once you’ve done this, or if help is too far away, it’s time to try and treat the wound.

Step 3: Stop the Bleeding

The most important thing you can do right away is to stop the bleeding. The best way to do this is to apply pressure directly to the wound. If you have access to ice or a cold pack, apply it to the area. It will help to slow blood flow. For really serious injuries with heavy blood loss, you may need to apply a tourniquet with a piece of clothing or rope.

There are some important things to remember surrounding tourniquet. Most first aid for cuts and wounds will not require the use of tourniquets. They are only to be used in situation of extreme blood loss. The goal of a tourniquet is to cut off circulation to the affected area to stop blood from flowing. There is a risk that doing this will lead to loss of limb, so make sure it is your only option.

Tourniquets can be made from clothing or rope. But it is a good idea to carry a commercial tourniquet in your first aid kit. These are far safer and much easier to use. NOTE: tourniquets are only used on limbs.

To make tourniquet, place what you will be tying several inches above the affected area. Then, tie a not, making sure the tourniquet is tight against the skin. Place a stik next to the not, and twist it to increase the pressure of the tourniquet. Below you can see a visual represenation of this process:


First Aid for Cuts and Wounds: Tourniquets

Step 4: Clean the Wound

Once you’ve been able to sufficiently stop the bleeding, it is very important to clean the wound. This includes removing any foreign bodies and dirt, and if possible, scrubbing it with warm water and soap. If this isn’t possible, water is okay in the beginning. Eventually you will need to use an antibacterial agent on the wound to prevent infection.

Step 5: Cover the Wound

Once you have cleaned the cut, dry it off and cover it. Use either guaze, a sterile pad, a pbandage, or if you have nothing else, a clean piece of cloth, such as a shirt. Now determine if you need additional medical help. You may need stitches or antibiotics to ward off infection. Smaller cuts will likely just need to be cleaned and dressed for a few days until they close up and begin to heal.

Cuts and wounds can be small nuisances or major threats, depending on their severity and the way you treat them. However, failing to follow proper first aid for cuts and wounds could turn something seemingly harmless into a life-changing or trip-ending injury. Be smart and be careful.


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