How to sterilize a wound in an unsterile environment

How to do it normally:

  • First wash your hands and around the wound site.
  • Wear latex gloves.
  • Sterilize any items that will come in contact with the wound.
  • Remove any debris with sterilized tools.
  • Irrigate the wound site with a saline solution.
  • Dress the wound in sterile bandages.

How to do it without the needed equipment:

Unable to wash your hands or the wound site? Simple, just pour or wipe your hands and the area around the wound with one of the following:

  • Alcohol (alcohol content 50% or higher)
  • 2% iodine tincture
  • 10% providone iodine solution
  • Hand sanitizer (alcohol content is 62-65%)
  • 1 part bleach / 10 parts water solution
  • Boiled down urine paste ( high uric acid content: The norse culture would make uric paste from cow pee to prevent infection in battle wounds).
  • liquor (has a high alcohol content)

Unable to wear latex gloves? Then just either sterilize your hands with one of the options above, dip your fingers in crisco, melted wax, trash bags or boil some socks then wear them as gloves.

Sterilize any items that will come in contact with the wound by one of the methods mentioned above or boil it for 5 minutes. When attempting to sterilize with any solution it must soak in the solution for 30 minutes or only 15 minutes in a bleach solution.

Remove any debris with sterilized tools, if you have no other choice then use your fingers or sterilized cloth/ plastic wrap/ plastic bag etc… as a barrier between your hands and the wound.

Irrigate the wound with a saline (1 part salt / to 5 parts water) solution. If you don’t have a syringe to irrigate the wound then use any ziplock baggie, plastic bag, finger of a latex glove, balloon or similar material to hold the solution such as plastic wrap, make a deep pocket and fill it with the solution then twist it creating a pressurized pouch. Next just poke a hole in the pouch and squeeze forcing the jet of solution into the wound to wash out debris.

Dress the wound in sterile bandages. Use any type of natural cloth material sterilized by either boiling it for at least 15 minutes or soaking it in alcohol for an hour or in a bleach/water solution for about 5 minutes. Wring the excess liquid out and allow to dry either by heat, by solar radiation, or both by placing it on a
dark colored surface in direct sunlight for half an hour on both sides. If it is a deep wound requiring stitches then the bandage should be changed often, twice a day until the wound becomes closed then once a day. An alternative to bandages it to allow abrasions and such to air dry as they are less as likely as wet wounds to get infected but take longer to heal. Yet another way is to use ointment, crisco, chapstick, urine paste, honey(which has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties), bacon fat ect…ect…as a barrier from bacteria and allow the wound to stay moist so as to heal quicker with some type of material over the wound site to keep the ointment or substitute from wearing off such as cloth, plastic, paper, or green leaves. The best are combinations, using an ointment with sterile bandages.


About Terry Jones

Teacher, Computer Security Consultant, Geek and Activist!

Posted on February 4, 2013, in Survival Tips and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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