Showing posts with label suture care. Show all posts
Showing posts with label suture care. Show all posts

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Surviving MacGyver Style: Duct Tape Survival Tips

By Karen Roguski

MacGyver, televised from 1985 - 1992, gave millions a sneak peek of using unconventional items in an entirely different manner than they were intended. Almost every episode showcased MacGyver in a survival necessary situation that he was able to escape, survive, and thrive.

One product that was highlighted numerous time and in hundreds of ways was duct tape. Here is our very own MacGyver style list of ways to help survivors with the use of the fix-all duct tape.

Twenty-Three Survival Uses For Duct Tape

Originally invented in 1942, for military waterproofing, “duck tape” has inspired many a person in the art of quick fixing. Later the name was changed to duct tape, but the many practical uses remained the same.  

Blister Protection

Reduce the friction of blisters, especially on the feet, by covering the blister with moleskin and duct tape.

Clothing Repair

A quick way in which to patch a snag or hole in garments is to make a patch out of duct tape.

Off- Ground Sleeping

To avoid bugs, water, or any other potential ground issues a quick solution could be an inexpensive hammock.

Location Marker

Wishing to mark the trail back to home or camp is easy with the use of duct tape as it easily adheres to almost any source.

Tent Fix

To prevent bugs, water, or other issues from bothering you or your belongings no matter the material duct tape is one of the best ways to go in a pinch. For best results place tape on both sides of the hole.

Hang A Light

In the event of electrical power failure, one can attach a flashlight to the wall to allow a better light cast throughout the space.

Bandage Wrap

Duct tape bandage wrap can be used for keeping the dressing dry, wrapping a sprain, covering stitches, or so many more medical means.

Drying Clothes

Clothesline made out of duct tape can be done by twisting or braiding until strong. This same technique can be used to create rope, belts, or even means to hang supplies.

Animal Treatment

Just like with humans, animals are often in need of medical or support like means of attention. Duct tape can be used for hundreds of various animal needs.

Tiki Torch

Wrapping duct tape on the end of a large stick and setting the duct tape on fire is a great means of extra light.

Mending Patch

Duct tape is an awesome way in which to patch a leaking hose, duct work, or virtually any object in need of a temporary patch.

Spear Creation

Need a tool, weapon, or food hunting source make a quick and easy spear.

Injury Sling

The following images show just how simplistically making a sling out of duct tape can be created.

Frostbite Prevention

By placing duct tape directly on exposed areas of skin in cold, windy, and snowy conditions can help prevent frostbite and help with overall warmth.

Arrow Fletching

Duct tape can make arrow fletching quickly and easily. One will be easily surprised at how far your arrow can fly.

Weather Preparation

Sealing cracks, stopping air leaks, or even hanging plastic over windows is a perfect use for duct tape.

Sprain Support

Keep a sprain or potential break from getting worse by wrapping the area with duct tape. You can even add sticks, bark, or other items to help support the area in question.


The use of bright or fluorescent duct tape can help save a life or allow help to find you much easier. Create a giant S.O.S. or a large arrow to guide rescuers or help in your direction.


Nothing is worse than having to walk about with wet socks. To remedy this add or cover shoe or the hole with duct tape.

Restrain Someone

Strong means in which to bind someone’s hands and feet until you come up with a plan or means to contact authorities.

Stop Leak

Fix a leaking water bottle, Camelbak, bowl, or any other container by placing duct tape over the hole or crack.

Butterfly Stitches

First aid in a pinch is a must when off the grid. The use of duct tape can help seal, cover, or protect a wound.

Bug Catch

Fly or flying bug catcher use duct tape to make flypaper. Hang duct tape from the ceiling, the inside of the tent, or anywhere around the camp site.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Suture (stitches) and wound care...

By: Sebastian Berry

As with all my articles...

DISCLAIMER: Instructions and information here is not a substitute for professional medical care and treatment. If you are having an emergency call 911 or your local emergency number for assistance.

I do not claim credit to any of the images used unless specifically indicated. All rights and credits remain with the original owners

My apologies to our faithful readers and staff here at Family Survival Farm. I have been away taking care of some family things that came up, namely my wife having surgery. For me, this is a very timely and appropriate topic.

About four months ago my wife began to complain of elbow pain in her left elbow that ran down her arm. Being who I am I dismissed this as overuse with the baby and told her to take some Tylenol and ibuprofen and learn to switch arms when carrying the baby.

About three weeks ago the missus complained again about her arm hurting more consistently from the left elbow through the left hand and having numbness and tingling in the fingers of the left hand. Again, being who I am, she didn't get a choice about going to go and see the hand surgeon.

Now she and I both have suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome. If you don't know what that is you can find out here. Essentially it is a compressed nerve in the hand/wrist that causes numbness and tingling. A contributing cause to this injury/syndrome is repetitive work, such as manufacturing assembly lines, farming, mechanical, building, and typing. Go figure, I have done all of these, it's no wonder that I had carpal tunnel release surgery completed on both hands in my early thirties.

Back to my wife though, her issue was not simply carpal tunnel syndrome. Her condition was complicated with the addition of cubital tunnel syndrome, which you can read about here. Long story short, similar symptoms in a different spot with relatively the same cause-repetitive use.

From her appointment, to testing, then to surgery was less than a week. From surgery to follow up was almost two weeks to the day. While dear wifey was recovering, I had full control of the house (insert maniacal laugh here). This is where we get into the meat and potatoes of my topic.

My wife, much like every other woman in the known universe, has her quirks and intricacies. One of those is post-surgical recovery. I was faithful at her every request to check her bandages and re-wrap them as they shifted. Elbow bandages do not stay in one place. She was insistent to make sure that her surgical sites were appropriately bandaged and cared for and that they did not "open up".

Typically speaking, sutures (stitches) and staples of almost any flavor stay in for 7-10 days and are then removed. 7-10 days helps to ensure full closure and decreases the chance of dehiscence (opening up). There are some things that we have to do on our end though...
  • clean and dry for the first 24-48 hours
  • avoid use/overuse while sutures are in place
  • application of antibiotic ointment
  • use of steri-strips to reinforce sutures and wound approximation (how it lines up)
  • on time removal of sutures
Generally speaking, clean and dry means exactly that. Depending on the location of your wound and sutures, you may be able to shower with a little extra precaution. You also might not be able to fully bathe for those first 24-48 hours. After the first day or two you should be able to shower and clean normally. The caveat to that though is that you should not soak or submerge the site, i.e washing dishes or sitting in a hot tub. Allowing water from the shower or from washing to run over the site is totally fine and appropriate, just don't scrub the site while washing. When you dry off you'll pat dry, DO NOT RUB AND DO NOT USE A HAIR DRYER. Most suture material is made of nylon and what happens to nylon when heat is applied? Oh yeah, it shrinks. I kid you not, this is something I include in patient teaching in the emergency room.

Imagine for a moment shaving with a dull and dry razor. You would get a lot of tug and pull and it would be very uncomfortable. Imagine putting a dry dressing over your wound site and sutures, same thing happens-lots of tug and pull and being uncomfortable. Obviously if you are in a family survival situation you may just have to put up with being uncomfortable. The dressings that I apply in the emergency room have several parts.
  1. Antibiotic ointment- I always recommend ointment + pain relief. It only costs a little bit more and is worth every penny.
  2. Steri-strips with skin prep adhesive
  3. A non-adherent dressing- This includes telfa (the pad on a band-aid) and adaptic (petroleum gauze)
  4. Dry gauze
  5. Tape or coban
The dressing should stay in place for the first 24-48 hours. Coincidentally this is also the amount of time we ask people to keep their injury clean and dry.

After the first day or two, we can imagine the tasks and chores that have piled up on your family survival farm. In many instances, you'll be able to return to limited work and play. My instruction to my ER patients is rest as needed and activity as tolerated. This is always dictated by the situation, please make sure to follow the direction of your medical provider. Steri-strips should be allowed to fall off on their own as time elapses.

After 7-10 days usually your sutures can come out. I'll tell you that it's not rocket surgery. If you have any hesitation about taking out your own sutures you should see your medical provider. Notice, I'm not giving any instruction on how to take them out yourself. Seek the guidance of your medical provider.

After your sutures come out, are you done? No not really. Now you have an area of skin that requires some extra attention in order to return to its full and healthy state. You probably won't need to continue applying antibiotic ointment. Now you can start to use your normal moisturizers and creams. I always recommend to folks to use something with vitamin E and for folks to use sunscreen on the affected area for six months or more in order to reduce scar prominence. It is very common for wound sites to have dry skin. You can't overdose on plain lotion with vitamin E, use it as often as you like.

Back to my wife. By virtue of having an ER nurse at her beck and call, her wounds healed very well. I'll give some credit where due though, the surgeon did an impeccable job with his suturing technique and provided a very well done closure of the surgical sites on her left hand and left elbow.

Credit: Sebastian Berry

Credit: Sebastian Berry

A special thank you goes out to everyone that helped my little survival family. Many small favors and friendly gestures were received and our hearts were full from the outpouring of love and support from family, friends, and neighbors.

What things do you do for your ouchies? Sutures, tape, glue? Let us know in the comments...