No matter if you homestead or not, every home should have a basic first aid kit. This could be one you bought or one you put together yourself. Having the tools to treat injuries all in one place is a must. When something bad happens you do not want to be running from room to room looking for the things you need to treat an injury. And trust me, the more you “do” the more you get hurt. I have had the joy of a rock rake going through my shoe into my foot as I desperately looked for a missing chicken once. Whom ever left it in the weeds with the tines up, well, that is a hole different topic of caring for tools……
This is our first aid kit, which is always having things added to it, but here are the basics:
- Assorted bandages for various size wounds
- Gauze and waterproof tape
- Instant cold compress
- Triple antibiotic ointment
- Anti-itch cream
- Allergy tablets
- Acetaminophen for pain
- Feminine panty liners (great for placing on and applying pressure on heavy bleeding wounds)
- Gloves, though in an emergency, I don’t care if I get blood on me.
- Baking soda
I keep my supplies in an easy to open lidded container. That way stuff stays in when you need to grab it and run, but you don’t have to fuss with zippers and such once you get down to dealing with the injury. So now that you have a basic first aid kit, lets talk about when and how you might have to use it. While I can not cover every injury and I am not a doctor, I will talk you through some of the most common things that can happen while homesteading (or basically living life!)
Splinters – While not life threatening, when you homestead you tend to get more of these then normal folks. We use tweezers if we can but sometimes they are a little hard to grab. In those cases we use a little baking soda mixed with water to make a paste. Put the past over the splinter opening and wait for it to dry, then flick it off with you nail and it should pull it out, maybe not all the way, but enough for you to get those tweezers on it.
Insect bites – Things like bee stings hurt! The more you are outside, the more you are likely to get stung or bit by something. That is why we keep Anti-itch cream in our first aid kit. The quicker you remove a stinger the less venom that enters your body. But do not pinch and pull. When you pinch to remove, you squeeze the venom sack left behind, pushing more venom into your body. Just use your finger nail to flip it off. We also keep allergy pills to help with the side effects of the venom. If you are allergic to bees, then follow your rescue protocol.
Animal bites – Let’s face it, if your homestead, you might have critters, though domesticated cats and dogs are more likely to bite you then a chicken! If the animal barely breaks the skin, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. Apply an antibiotic cream to prevent infection and cover the bite with a clean bandage. If the bite is a major puncture wound and the skin is torn and bleeding, apply pressure to the area with a clean, dry cloth (we use the panty liners because they are super absorbent) to stop the bleeding and seek medical attention.
Burns – Burns come in different degrees. 1st degree burns are minor unless they cover a large area. Symptoms are red skin, swelling and pain. 2nd degree burns are when you burn into the second layer of your skin. If it is a small burn treat as a minor unless it is larger then say 3 inches. Burns can become easily infected if they are large. Symptoms include, blisters, redness, splotchy skin and sever pain and swelling.
For minor burns, cool the burn under cool NOT cold water. NEVER use ice as it causes more cell damage. You will want to cover the burn with gauze or a band aid loosely so it doesn’t rub on the burn but keeps the air off, reducing the pain. You will also want to pop a pain reliever. We actually use potatoes on burns here. My son burnt himself with a wood burning tool in the groin area and it instantly started to blister. After putting potatoes on it for an hour, there were no blisters and it healed super fast with little pain! I swear by tators for burn!
- Use ice, it will damage the injured area more. The cold of the ice and the heat of the burn will cause skin cells to burst.
- Apply egg whites, butter or any type of ointment. These trap in heat and can cause infection
- Break a blister. Doing so makes you more vulnerable to infection
Now if you have a 3rd degree burn, call 911 IMEDDETLY! While you wait for help to arrive DO NOT remove burned clothing, they may be burned into the wound. DO NOT immerse in cold water as it could cause shock. Do cover the burned area with a cool moist cloth.
Cuts – These are going to happen, be it in the kitchen or on a DIY project, sooner or later you will bleed. STOP the bleeding. LOL Yeah, I know that was a hard one right? Minor cuts will stop bleeding on their own. But for injuries that don’t stop on their own, apply pressure to the wound with a cloth. We use the feminine pads as they are very absorbent. Keep pressure on the wound, don’t keep checking it to see if it has stopped. Elevate the wound and wait 20 or so minutes. You need to give your body time to form a clot that will stop the bleeding.
Now if it is a simple cut with no or easily flushed out debris in it, once the bleeding has stopped, clean the wound, apply an antibiotic and cover with a bandage. Now if it will not stop bleeding or there is debris you can not get out in the wound you will need to go see your doctor and likely need stitches (I don’t sew people!) Make sure you change your bandage daily or sooner if it gets dirty and wet.
Heat issues – Heat exhaustion often begins suddenly. Some signs include feeling dizzy, nauseas, sweating, pale cool skin, headache, fatigue, and dark pee. You should get to the shade or better yet air conditioning and lay down with your legs up. Drink cool water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
Heat stroke is the next level of heat issues. And yes, I have had this and it sucks! Some signs include rapid heartbeat, breathing issues, confusion, dizzy, nausea, fainting. Get the person to air conditioning pronto!!! Drink water, lots of it and seek medical attention. I did not and I so should have. We were on vacation and I didn’t want to spoil the fun so I had a very crappy night in the hotel room as to not spoil the fun. Yeah, I spoiled the fun. LOL
Broken bones – Stop any bleeding by applying pressure. If it is a bad break, call 911. If you do decide to transport the person in your car, make sure to immobilize the area. Your not going to try to set the bone. If you don’t know how to splint, don’t, just make it so the break is not bouncing around on the drive. An ice pace will help with swelling and pain. Do not put the ice directly on the skin, wrap it in a towel. If the person starts to go into shock, get their legs up over their head.
A word of advice: Get a tetanus shot. You should have one every 10 years. If your injury is dirty and/or deep, go get a booster if your tetanus was over 5 years ago. Better to be safe. I am not saying homesteading is dirty and dangerous, but better safe then sorry in my book!! Also, you should take a CPR class. I hope you never need it but you are more likely to use it on family then strangers. My neighbor has to be certified for her job on a delivery floor at a hospital. Who did she end up saving? Her own daughter who was choking on food! CPR standards change so don’t assume you know it if it has been a while since your last class.
**Homestead Tips on Tuesday is a weekly series where we help you learn skills, tips, and trick to help you on your journey of homesteading. Many places post list of things you should/could do as far as homesteading skill, but I feel lists are at times overwhelming and can make people give up before they even start. So every Tuesday I share one thing for you to try or consider. I hope you join us every Tuesday and I would love to hear about your adventures with each weeks topic.**