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How to make a wound closure bandage with duct tape

This demo bandage shows how to improvise a butterfly bandage with duct tape.
600 362 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness


Have to improvise a wound closure device? Try duct tape.

by Leon Pantenburg

The more you learn, it seems, the more you realize how much more there is to learn.

That’s what happened after my first Wilderness First Aid class for Boy Scout leaders and volunteers. I got home after completing the class, and went through my first aid kit with a fine tooth comb. I threw out some things, but added many more.

Butterfly bandages or Steri-Strips are used to close wounds.

Butterfly bandages or Steri-Strips are used to close wounds.

One item I added was Steri-Strips. These are an H-shaped adhesive strip designed to close wounds. They adhere to the sides of the wound to pull it together. This, in some cases, can eliminate the need to suture or puncture the skin.

But suppose you run out or have to improvise this wound closure?

I was reading the third edition of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” by Joseph Alton, MD and Amy Alton ARNP when I found this simple method for improvising a steri-strip out of duct tape.

Here’s what you do:

This demo bandage shows how to improvise a butterfly bandage with duct tape.

This demo bandage shows how to improvise a butterfly bandage with duct tape.

Before doing anything, clean the wound and the area around it as best you can. This is where individual alcohol or other sterile wipes come in really handy.

Measure the wound to be closed.

Start out with a large size piece of duct tape.

Cut an “H” out of the tape.

Fold the center tabs inward – the idea is to create an area that won’t stick to the wound.

Trim the ends to fit the area.

Draw the edges of the wound together, and close it.

Naturally, you don’t want to rely on a makeshift bandage unless it’s absolutely necessary. Get some first aid training, make a complete emergency medical kit, and practice using it.

But this technique with duct tape might come in really handy at some point. Let’s hope you never have to use it!

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1 comment
  • Sandra Jones

    in the case of a large cut, why couldn’t you take 2 pieces of duct tape and something akin to Butchers cord and weave the cord kinda like this ww on the sticky side of each piece of duct tape with an overhang of the cord on one side only of each piece of tape, and place on either side of the cut, and then draw the two pieces together to close the cut? Sort of like the Israeli bandage?

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