The best materials for survival gear and medical kits may come from the grocery store.
In this case, we’ll look in the feminine hygiene aisle.
by Leon Pantenburg
It was prime example of an experienced Boy Scout doing a dumb thing that could have developed into a survival situation. He knew better.
We were on a campout in deep snow in the Oregon Cascades and needed to start a fire. There was no dry wood, and the scout decided to baton some kindling to get to the dry wood. He put the kindling on his thigh, and pounded his knife through the wood. Into his thigh. I didn’t believe it either. The wound was nasty and bleeding. Thankfully, no major veins or arteries were hit!
All three of the adults present were trained and certified in Wilderness First Aid. I applied direct pressure to the wound with my clean bandanna, while another scoutmaster got a maxipad from the first aid kit. We placed the maxipad directly over the wound, wrapped it with an ACE bandage, and headed for the nearest emergency room. The Maxipad stuck readily to the wrapping, making a secure, sterile and effective bandage.
About 50 percent of the population doesn’t need any information, background or reasoning about feminine hygiene products.
The other half – that’s you, guys – might wonder why some of these products should be included in every emergency/survival kit, even if there isn’t going to be a lady along. We’re talking about tampons, sanitary napkins, Maxipads, pantie liners etc.
Quick answer: Efficiency. These products have been researched and refined extensively, and some of them might be the most effective battle dressings available. For treating some wounds, these items might be the best choice.
Here are some product commonalities, and five reasons why they should be in your survival gear.
- Prepackaged and inexpensive: Tampons, maxipads etc. are individually wrapped in a sealed package. They are compact, and this allows packing as many as space permits. The packaging protects them so they don’t get trashed in your pack. They are cheap and readily available. Every backwoods store or gas station carries at least one of these products.
- Sterile: Because of the sealed packaging, the sterile contents stay that way. Wound treatment in the outdoors typically takes place in a very dirty, unsterile, germy environment. If the wound can be cleaned and covered with a sterile dressing, that may prevent infection and speed the healing process.
- Materials: Most feminine hygiene products have 100 percent cotton in them. This highly-absorbent material is also the basis of one of the most effective firestarters – cotton balls and petroleum jelly. The packaging keeps the cotton dry until you need to infuse the petroleum jelly.
- Adhesion: The sticky backing on some of the pads or pantie liners means you can secure the dressing to the bandage or wrapping material easier. This becomes a big deal when the injury is in a hard to bandage area, such as on a heel or the head.
- Tampons for battle injuries: War fighters and medics in the middle eastern sandboxes frequently carry tampons to stop bleeding from bullet holes. The tampons expand to fit the wound, effectively stopping bleeding. This is an emergency fix only, when the goal is to stop bleeding ASAP.
The bottom line is that you should carry the most effective items in your emergency gear. It doesn’t matter which aisle in the grocery store they come from.
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