How To Survive the Outdoors – Post Apocalypse

You may not think you need the skills to survive on your own out in the wilderness because why would you? We live in a world where we can depend on others and anything and everything is accessible. But we shouldn’t take this for granted. This could be quickly taken from you in any scenario such as an EMP, nuclear attack, natural disaster, etc. And when and if that happens, you will need to fall back on some survival skills for braving the outdoors. Sure – staying in one place works for a little bit…..especially if you live out in the country, but if you live in a big city, you are going to need to leave (or “bug out”) and venture out. And you better be prepared. Cities are highly susceptible to looting and crime when any disaster hits and people will get desperate. And a scratch out in the wild could be the one thing that kills you when there’s no medical supplies or a doctor handy. Even if you live out in the country, if your surroundings become compromised, you may need to leave as well.

I’m going to cover some of the most common injuries out in the wild and how to treat these as best as you can with what you got. Learn these skills and keep them. You will never know when you might need them.

Now this blog will give you tips and tricks outside of herbs, but I have written a blog on the usefulness of herbal knowledge around surviving the wilderness as well, especially around treating wounds. You can find that by clicking Here.

FROSTBITE AND HYPOTHERMIA

What is frostbite? It is the result of the freezing of fluids in the skin and underlying soft tissues. It usually happens to areas on the body that receive less blood such as the toes, fingers, nose, ear, and even cheeks when they’ve been exposes to extreme cold for an extended period of time. In some conditions, where you are dealing with sub-zero temps, it can happen even faster. Wind can speed up this process. Thawing and refreezing a frostbitten part can make the frostbite worse than it was before.

So how do you know if you have frostbite? When frostbite starts it typically isn’t noticed, but should be caught early on. The first sign you will see is that your skin is red and painful. Then the skin will become white or grayish yellow and will start to look pale and glossy. It will feel waxy and firm. The pain you were feeling before will disappear and be replaced by cold and numbness. Blisters will start to appear.

If you are experiencing frostbite, the first thing you must do is protect the affected area. Cover the frozen part if you can with extra clothing. Find whatever you can to cover it and try to find shelter. If the hands are affected, immediately put them under your armpits to make use of your own body heat. Try to find warm (not hot) water to warm the frostbitten part. When you start to get feeling back into the frostbitten part, desist from warming it with water.

You must NEVER do the following:

  • Do not rub the frostbitten area with anything. This may cause gangrene or tissue death.
  • Do not break open the blisters. Breaking the blisters can lead to infection.
  • Do not give the affected area too hot of heat right away. Because the area is numb, this could lead to burning of the tissue without you feeling it.
  • If feet or toes are involved, abstain from walking.

Instead DO the following:

  • Try and exercise fingers and toes after they are warmed up to get the blood flowing.
  • If you can, use sterile cloth to try and separate the toes and fingers while frostbitten.
  • Make certain the frostbitten areas do not become re-frozen. This could worsen the situation.
  • If possible, elevate the frostbitten part.

It is a good idea to keep in mind that when you are traveling in the cold to keep your heart rate up and blood pumping. The more energized you are, the more body heat your body creates and the more blood that is pumped to the extremities.

What is hypothermia? Hypothermia occurs when the entire body has become chilled or is freezing. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, numbness, drowsiness or sleepiness, muscular weakness, and if severe, you can lose consciousness.

  • If you think you have hypothermia, you need to get somewhere warm quick. But if that’s simply not possible, crawling into a freshly dead animal carcass works, as long as it’s big enough like a deer or moose carcass. You will want to make sure to take your clothes off prior and hang them on a tree or bush where they will stay dry. Granted, this probably won’t be an option for you.

Hypothermia usually occurs when exposed to wet water, such as falling through ice into a lake, etc.

  • You will want to immediately get out of the water, seek shelter and dry clothes, and remove any wet, frozen, or constricting clothing.
  • Cover yourself with blankets if you can find them.

Hypothermia is a tough one, because there aren’t a lot of options out there, but people have survived this and you can too if you have the resources available to you to do so.

HEATSTROKE AND HEAT EXHAUSTION

Our body’s way of dealing with excess heat is to release it through sweat. But when exposed to extreme heat, the body may sweat profusely and then you begin to lose large amount of water and become dehydrated. This easily happen traveling out in the desert or traveling in the summer in areas of high humidity and heat.

What is heatstroke? Heatstroke is very serious. The first sign of this is that your body temp will begin to rise almost as if you have a fever. Next the skin becomes red, dry, and hot and you stop sweating. Your pulse will be fast and strong and you will start to lose consciousness or become confused. In a situation like this, you will want to try and find cold (not iced) water to dip your body into to bring your body temp down. If this is not possible, you need to stop walking immediately. Try to find shade and find something to fan yourself with. This could be several big leaves tied to a stick or a piece of broken siding off of a house. You can get creative. Any sort of draft will help the cooling so if you can create that then that’s good.

Heat exhaustion is oftentimes confused with heatstroke, but heatstroke is far more dangerous as the body is getting ready to shut down due to overheating. While heatstroke can happen in dry or humid conditions, heat exhaustion typically occurs during hot, humid conditions and it usually takes long exposure to this for it to set in. This occurs because the body is reacting to the lack of fluids you are in-taking compared to the loss of fluids you are sweating out. If you are like the guy in Man Vs. Wild, you will consider drinking your own urine or squeezing the fluid out of animal dung such as elephant dung. However, I would only do that if you are desperate and I don’t recommend that unless you absolutely have to. That is a great show by the way. 🙂

The first signs of heat exhaustion will be clammy, pale skin, heavy perspiration, tired and weakness, dizziness leading to fainting, nausea and vomiting, headache, and/or muscle cramps. Seek shade immediately if you are experiencing any of this. Loosen your clothing. If you can, try and find water. There are some plants out there that provide water as well. Take a look at my blog, titled Why Herbs is an Important Survival Skill, for more on that. You will want to try and put a little bit of salt in your water (if you have it) to help your body retain water, such as a tsp. If vomiting occurs, stop drinking water. Lie on your back and prop your feet on something 8 to 12 inches off of the ground. This should help stabilize the body and improve circulation. And similar to a heatstroke, you will want to try and fan yourself with something to create a draft and cool your body. Once you’ve experienced heat exhaustion, it is best not to walk for several days so that the body can recuperate and get back to normal.

SEVERE INSECT STINGS AND REACTIONS

This is mostly a concern if you are allergic to insect stings. Allergies to these stings may result in anaphylactic shock which is a total body reaction to an insect’s sting. As you probably know, the most common insects that sting include: bumblebees, yellow jackets (wasp), honey bees, hornets, other wasps such as mud dobbers, and fire ants. The first sign of an allergic reaction is severe swelling, not only at the place that was stung, but in other places such as the lips, eyes, and tongue. Next, you will experience dizziness or weakness where you could possibly lose consciousness. Itching and hives can also occur as a result of being stung. Coughing, wheezing, or difficulty in breathing may occur as well as stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and the skin around where you were stung may turn bluish. Acting promptly after being stung is key here.

If it was a honey bee, remove the stinger, but not with tweezers as it may release more venom from the stinger into your body. Carefully scrape across the skin with your finger or knife to get the stinger out.

If the sting has occurred on an arm or leg:

  • Mmake a tourniquet out of whatever you have, be it clothing, cord, belt, necktie, etc. (although a rubber tourniquet is ideal) and apply the tourniquet two to four inches above the sting towards the body.
  • Do not cut off circulation however.
  • Be certain there is a pulse below the tourniquet and that it is loose enough for you to slip a finger underneath of.
  • Loosen this tourniquet every 30 minutes.
  • If you are able to, apply cold cloths to the area or cold mud. This slows the spread and absorption of the venom.
  • Unless you are having trouble breathing, you will want to lie down on your back and remain calm until your body has returned to normal.

BLACK WIDOW SPIDER BITES

The black widow, probably the most poisonous spider in the United States, next to the brown recluse. Black widow spider bites can be deadly especially to babies, children, the elderly, and those who are chronically ill and already have a compromised immune system. You can’t mistake the black widow with its red marking on it’s underside and its hourglass shape.

After being bitten by a black widow, the following symptoms may occur: swelling and redness near the bite, severe pain around the bite because of the spider’s nerve toxin, heavy sweating, nausea and vomiting, painful stomach cramps and possibly cramping elsewhere in the body, tightness of the chest, and difficulty speaking or breathing.

The key here is to slow and/or stop the body’s absorption of the spider’s venom. Keep the bite area lower than the level of your heart. If you are able, try and apply cold compresses or ice wrapped in cloth to the bite. Cold mud works good here too. Remain calm.

If you think you are starting to experience shock from the bite such as severe thirst, restlessness or anxiety, increased breathing, overall weakness, a fast pulse rate, or vomiting, you will want to take some extra steps to get the blood circulating, provide more oxygen to the body, and maintain normal body temperature.

  • You will want to stay comfortably warm, but not hot.
  • Lie down on your back. If you are on a damp surface, put a blanket or cloth underneath of you.
  • Elevate the feet by propping it up with something 8 to 12 inches off of the floor to improve circulation. Unless that’s where you were bitten and then you do not want that elevated above your heart. You won’t want to continue to elevate the feet if you start to feel worse either.
  • If experiencing dizziness, lie on your side. If you become unconscious and you are with someone else, hopefully they know to turn you on your side to allow fluids to drain out of the mouth otherwise choking is a possibility.
  • It is good to stay hydrated during this time unless you are experiencing vomiting. Adding a tsp of salt to your water is recommended.

BROWN RECLUSE SPIDER BITES

This spider is very dangerous, especially to young children. It has a distinctive dark brown violin-shaped located on the top front portion of its body. Symptoms of a brown recluse (also known as the fiddler spider) spider bite include stinging at the time of the bite, redness and then a blister will form where you were bitten, and pain will start to increase severely over the next 8 hours. Within the next 48 hours, you may experience chills, fever, nausea and vomiting, joint pain, and develop a rash. Brown recluse spider bite venom destroys red blood cells and forces other changes in the blood. Treating this bite is similar to the black widow.

The key here is to slow and/or stop the body’s absorption of the spider’s venom. Keep the bite area lower than the level of your heart. If you are able, try and apply cold compresses or ice wrapped in cloth to the bite. Cold mud works good here too. Remain calm.

If you think you are starting to experience shock from the bite such as severe thirst, restlessness or anxiety, increased breathing, overall weakness, a fast pulse rate, or vomiting, you will want to take some extra steps to get the blood circulating, provide more oxygen to the body, and maintain normal body temperature.

  • You will want to stay comfortably warm, but not hot.
  • Lie down on your back. If you are on a damp surface, put a blanket or cloth underneath of you.
  • Elevate the feet by propping it up with something 8 to 12 inches off of the floor to improve circulation. Unless that’s where you were bitten and then you do not want that elevated above your heart. You won’t want to continue to elevate the feet if you start to feel worse either.
  • If experiencing dizziness, lie on your side. If you become unconscious and you are with someone else, hopefully they know to turn you on your side to allow fluids to drain out of the mouth otherwise choking is a possibility.
  • It is good to stay hydrated during this time unless you are experiencing vomiting. Adding a tsp of salt to your water is recommended.

Venomous spider bites can be extremely dangerous and people have lost limbs because of them. Without emergency medical assistance, your only hope is to take the steps to slow and/or stop the absorption.

SNAKE BITES

Most snake bites are harmless, but there are a few snakes out there that are deadly in the United States. The snakes include the rattlesnake, cottonmouth (water moccasin), copperhead, and coral snake. The severity of the reaction depends on how much venom was injected, how fast your body absorbs it, where you were bitten, how much you weight, and what protective clothing was worn such as boots, gloves, pants, etc.

Bites by a rattlesnake (first snake pictured above), cottonmouth, or copperhead (second snake pictured above) may result in extreme pain and fast swelling. You may be able to see the puncture wounds left by the snake’s fangs and discoloration of the skin around it. You may start to feel weak, nauseous, or begin to vomit. Shortness of breath accompanied by blurred or dimmed vision may also occur along with a shock reaction or convulsions. The key here is to slow the blood circulation through the bitten area to delay the spread of the venom.

  • Do not do anything to aggravate the bite.
  • Move as little as possible and immobilize the bitten area keeping it lower than the heart.
  • If the bite is on the arm or leg, constrict it with anything you can find such as a band, belt, or watchband. Make sure it’s 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches wide and it’s placed 2 to 4 inches above the bite. Doing this will expel discharge from the bite. Do not cut off circulation. You should be able to slip a finger underneath of it. If swelling reaches the band, move it up another 2 to 4 inches.
  • If you are able, you will want to wash the bite area with soap and water keeping it clean and so as not to risk infection.
  • Make an incision and provide suction immediately after you’ve been bitten. Waiting too long and this will not work. Use a sharp sterilized knife or blade and your mouth or suction cup if you have one. Only use your mouth if it is free of any cuts or sores. Doing this with sores or cuts in the mouth will only spread the venom into your mouth. Carefully make a cut, 1/8 to 1/4 inch deep (and no deeper) and no more than 1/2 inch long, through each fang mark. You will cut down the length of the arm and leg and not across it. Do not do this if you were bitten on the head, neck, or trunk of the body. Once the incision has been made, apply suction for at least 30 minutes. If using your mouth, spit the venom out and rinse your mouth with water when finished. But you can’t really
  • Do not apply cold to this area as it could cause tissue damage.
  • You should only drink sips of water at this time, limit your mobility, and don’t drink water if experiencing convulsions, nausea, vomiting, or unconsciousness.

Unlike it’s counterparts, the coral snake (above) “chews” and does not bite or make the usual two fanged puncture wounds. “Red touches black, is a friend for Jack. Red touches yellow, kills a fellow.” Keep that in mind when you see one of these. 😉 It has an imposter snake called that looks very similar to it.  Symptoms from a coral snake bite do not appear immediately, but if bitten you will want to try and wash the bite area. Immobilize the area keeping it above the heart, stay still, and remain calm. Keep the area clean and covered to prevent infection and follow the steps listed above for rattlesnakes, copperheads, and the cottonmouth snake.

Venomous snake bites can be extremely dangerous and people have lost limbs because of them and died. Without emergency medical assistance and an anti-venom serum, your only hope is to take the steps to slow and/or stop the absorption.

WOUNDS

With any wound, your primary objectives are to stop the bleeding and to prevent contamination and infection. With a big enough wound, you can bleed to death in a short amount of time so you must quickly must stop a large amount of blood loss.

If you are wounded outdoors and you have severe bleeding, take the following steps:

  • Do not clean the wound.
  • Place a thick, clean compress over the entire wound and press firmly with the palm of your hand.
    • A compress could include a handkerchief or undershirt or any clean cloth.
      • If you don’t have this, use your bare hand and fingers as long as they are clean.
  • Apply direct, steady pressure. In most cases, this should stop the bleeding.
  • Do not remove the compress. The thick cloth will absorb the blood and help it to clot.
    • If blood is soaking through the cloth, apply more cloth on top, and press more firmly.
  • If a limb or the neck is involved, elevate it above the heart and continue direct pressure.
    • Do not elevate the limb or neck if it appears fractured.
  • Once bleeding slows down or stops, find a piece of rope or something similar to tie around the cloth, pulling steadily, and tie a knot directly over the wound. Do not cut off circulation and keep it elevated.

If you are wounded outdoors and you have minor bleeding, you will want to clean the skin and wound as much as you can before dressing it with a clean cloth or bandage (if you have it).

  • Cleaning the wound prevents infection or any foreign matter to enter the bloodstream.
  • Gentle scrubbing with a clean cloth may be necessary to remove dirt, but always rinse with water afterwards.
  • Particles such as wood splinters or glass fragments may be removed with a tweezer (if you have it), needle, or anything that can pinch and/or scrape the object to pull it out. Make sure you sterilize the tweezers or whatever tool you are using to get the object out over a fire or in boiling water.

Removing foreign objects in deep tissue or muscle can be really dangerous and may exacerbate the bleeding so this must be done with extreme precaution and I’m not a doctor so I can’t give much tips on this other than if it’s a rusty object, you will want it removed right away due to the risk of tetanus. However, where the foreign object has punctured the body, it may not matter as your chances of survival kind of depend on that. Puncture wounds from objects such as a bullet, nail, or ice pick pierce the skin and underlying tissue leaving a hole. The wound is deep and narrow and you may experience very little bleeding. Bleeding, however, helps the body to wash out bacteria so puncture wounds are far more prone to infection than any other type of wound. Tetanus is one of the concerns, but as I stated above, where the body is punctured the object could have done damage to internal organs and you may suffer from internal bleeding from that.  If the object has gotten lodged or broke off in the body, I would not attempt to remove the object till I was in a clean facility with medicinal supplies. Removing this object can cause massive internal and/or external bleeding and you are probably going to need to seek professional medical help, if you can find it.

If you have a puncture wound, take the following steps:

  • Do not poke into the wound.
  • Encourage external bleeding by gently pressing around the edges of the wound.
  • Clean it with water or soap (if you can find some).
  • Put a clean cloth over the wound and bandage it in place as instructed above with the makeshift compress.

I know I mentioned this earlier, but herbal knowledge out in the wild is also extremely beneficial and some herbs can be used to apply not only to insect bites, but to wounds to prevent infection and promote healing. Check out my blog titled, Why Herbs is an Important Survival Skill for more info on that.

If you are wondering what to put in a “bug out” bag in case you need to brave the wilderness, here’s a list of some major items you will want to include (this certainly doesn’t include everything):

  • Any and all herbs and medicinal supplies you have on hand
  • Raw honey, especially manuka – highly beneficial and can be used to prevent infection and stop bleeding
  • Water and food
  • Gun, rifle, knives
  • Cord, rope, or sturdy string
  • Tweezers, scissors
  • Extra clean cloths
  • Kit to make a fire with if you don’t know how to do it like a boy scout

The Health Ranger Store also carries a wide variety of prepper gear to have on hand in case of an apocalyptic scenario, event, or disaster occurs. They carry everything from a natural first aid kit, pandemic protection kit to an ultimate health ranger survival set. Check it out and cheers to your survival!

__________________________________________________________________________

Sources: “Rodale’s Encyclopedia of Natural Home Remedies”, by Mark Bricklin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.