We live in a world where established safety measures, if followed, prevent a lot of injuries. Unfortunately, they’ll never prevent all injuries. There were an estimated 45 million incidents of trauma in the U.S. last year that required an emergency room visit. Car wrecks, outdoor injuries, industrial accidents, and other mishaps contribute to a whole lot of hurt in good times. That leaves us to wonder: How would this change in bad times?
Let’s face it, people get injured and sick whether or not there’s a rescue helicopter on the horizon. Broken bones, bleeding, sprains, and other issues will need to be treated.
If the modern emergency system breaks down, is overloaded, or simply too far away, someone in the family or group will become the highest medical asset left. Certified or not, they’ll be the end of the line with regards to the medical well-being of their people. Without equipment and know-how, deaths will occur that could’ve been prevented with a good medical kit and knowledge of basic first aid.
People prepare for the worst by accumulating food, water, personal protection items, and more. The wisest of them also stockpile a good supply of medical equipment and medicines as well. In a short-term event, those with training and equipment will save many lives. But what happens when the medic bag is empty?
All is not lost. Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. The resourceful will make do with found objects. A variety of items on the trail or in abandoned buildings can serve as medical supplies. All it takes is an instinct to explore, a good eye, and some imagination.
Before we begin, it should be mentioned that the medical improvisations below are stopgap measures for dire situations when traditional medical resources and treatment are not available — unfortunately, the current Coronavirus / COVID-19 outbreak may be one such circumstance, if it continues to worsen. Improvised methods are rarely as successful as modern technology and equipment (if used properly). Having said that, some of the strategies below might just save lives in times of trouble.
WATER BOTTLES AS FILTERS
You can last quite a while without food, but only about three days without water. Even when there’s a water source nearby, you can’t see the microscopic organisms that make you sick. In survival settings, more lives may be lost by diseases due to contaminated water than bullet wounds.
With a clear plastic PET (polyethelene terephthalate) bottle, you can make water safer. It shouldn’t be hard to find; approximately 500 billion are produced every year. Unless you have a purpose-built water filter like the Sawyer Mini or LifeStraw, you’ll need containers to: 1) filter out particulates that make the water cloudy, and 2) destroy disease-causing microbes in the water.
To improvise a filter, you’ll need the following items that you might find by scavenging, or in your medical kit…