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Preparedness 101: First-Aid Skills Preppers Should Know

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In a disaster (or even in just day-to-day life), having basic first-aid training and medical skills can help you deal with life-threatening injuries.

It could also make the difference between someone surviving a catastrophic event and someone losing their life.

In an event that a disaster hits your area and cripples your neighborhood’s infrastructure, the immediate result would certainly mean that those in need of medical help would either be seriously injured or in shock.

However, getting help for these individuals can be difficult. After a natural disaster, first responders are usually busy helping individuals in larger populated areas.

This might include young students at school, individuals in shopping areas, movie theaters, etc.

So, during the first couple of weeks following the disaster, emergency personnel will be short-staffed and stretched thin, which also means that you probably won’t be able to receive immediate help after dialing 911.

Fortunately, having basic first-aid knowledge and the proper tools to stabilize an injured person can help in the long run.

In addition to having basic knowledge and tools, it also helps to have the proper training as well. That way, you can help keep them stable until the injured person reaches the hospital.

How can you stay prepared?  By making sure you have knowledge of the bare minimum items found below.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR): CPR is the one training that has proven to be invaluable when it comes to keeping a person alive.

That’s because CPR combines mouth-to-mouth resuscitation with chest compressions. What does that mean?

Well, it means that when you’re performing CPR to an injured person, you’re giving their body the blood flow needed to stay alive. How? By pumping the heart for them manually and giving their brain the oxygen needed to function.

So, do not let the lack of training you have stop you from trying to save someone’s life during a time of need.

While many people are not trained in CPR, there are also a number of people not willing to perform it on individuals for legal reasons or fear of contracting a disease when performing mouth-to-mouth.

If you have a first-aid kit, however, then you’ll have access to gloves, masks, and other protective gear to keep you safe.

The best part is, they can be purchased almost anywhere, and they’re easy to carry around in a briefcase, car, handbag, and suitcase.

If you have no training at all, make sure you at least have the knowledge to administer chest compression and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation – with or without protective gear – and call for help when you need it.

For Chest Compressions:

  • Place the heel of your hand on the lower breastbone.
  • Place the other hand on top, making sure your fingers are interlocked.
  • Push downward with a firm manner, compressing a third of the person’s chest depth. Be sure to compress 30 times.
  • Administer two breaths using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
  • Aim for a 100 compression for every 60 seconds.

For Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation:

  • Clear the individual’s airway (making sure there are no objects in the mouth).
  • Tilt the head to open the airway.
  • Pinch the individual’s nose with your fingers.
  • Give two breaths — this is also known as “rescue breath.”
  • If you don’t see the chest rise and fall, check the airway again.

Reducing Blood Loss: Blood loss can be a serious issue during a disaster, especially if an artery is hit.

In most cases, this type of injury can be fatal within minutes if you’re unable to stop the blood from pooling out. So, if you notice someone losing blood at an alarming rate, then be sure to treat the wound before administering CPR.

That is, of course, unless you have medical training and are able to do determine whether the wound injury is fatal.

Regardless of the type of wound, each injury requires you to act fast and apply direct pressure by any means necessary. Luckily, first-aid kits have compression bandages for these types of wounds and can be used when the blood is not coming out of the wound.

How are bandages used in a time of need?

Well, you first want to start by placing the bandage (or other material) onto the wound and compress it.

The bandage will then become soaked, and if you have other bandages available, continue adding more layers to it without removing the soaked one.

Whatever you do, do not release the pressure until the wound is no longer bleeding. Once the bleeding is under control, tighten the bandage to prevent any more blood loss.

Remember, the bandage needs to be tight enough to stop the bleeding, but not too tight where it cuts off circulation to the surrounding tissue.

Treating Allergies: During a disaster, you never what issues you’ll encounter, and allergies are no different. What makes allergies a little more difficult than other issues is the fact that it involves the body’s immune system.

An allergic reaction occurs when the “immune system responds to a foreign substance that’s not typically harmful to the body.”

These foreign substances are called allergens, and they can be anything. During an earthquake, for example, things like dust and debris can be labeled as an “allergen.” Plants, pollen, and over-the-counter medication can also be a form of allergens as well, along with food.

Being prepared, however, is key, especially since reactions may vary depending on the person. Some people, for instance, might develop bumps, rashes, and itchy eyes.

Other people, however, might develop more severe problems like swelling of the throat, puffy skin, or other life-threatening symptoms.

How do you treat these reactions? For minor allergic reactions, the victim will usually need over-the-counter medicine and be able to identify the source that caused the outbreak.

For more severe cases, however, the victim usually needs to see a doctor. The important part here is being able to identify what actions need to be taken, which can be difficult for some people.

In the end, being prepared and ready is key for any disaster – whether man-made or natural. While you may have enough time to flee your neighborhood for some disasters, there might be times you don’t get any warning.

With first-aid training and a little understanding, however, you and those injured can be safer.