Taking care of those you love in an emergency

This guest post by Denise H and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

In an effort to not repeat articles that have already been written, I had held back on sending in anything. “The Pack” is so large and with so many backgrounds, I wondered what I could say that would be of benefit to the community we have become. Then, I realized that because of the expanse of our experiences, some of us have “holes in our preps” of knowledge, that others do not have. I treasure the time I spend here learning and those I have learned from. I realized that my life experiences are unique to me as each of yours is to you.

I will write this article with the benefit of hindsight, so you have the opportunity to benefit from my learning curve. Among my different jobs, I have worked in the medical field, but I am not licensed… Nor do I wish to be. The medical community has my respect. If you need medical care and it IS possible to get to a health care professional, I urge you to get there, as soon as possible. The delaying of required treatment costs humans,… and animals much pain, money, and often costs those we love, their life. Give yourself the best treatment you can everyday, there is only one you, and others depend on you to be your best.

Much of what I know is basic medical knowledge, and seeking natural remedies for problems of myself and my immediate family. It is my hope and prayer that you will never be required to use, what is written here. I am writing it so that you may learn to give aid when someone is depending on YOU, as their first and best resource. Knowledge is power, I would like to pass on some things I have USED effectively, with the rationale behind the process used, with the benefit of hindsight.. I have no connection to any product I mention, except as a satisfied customer.


I have written before about taking care of infected wounds, and some lessons we learned from an injury episode. I have continued to use the same methods for new wounds this last several months…we continue to learn.


Our latest wound episode, occurred late one Friday night. I was giving our dog a bath. He became frightened, when I changed my hold on him to get another towel. He wasn’t having any of that “falling stuff” and his only way to grab, was with his teeth….and he did so. I sustained a painful bite to the inner /radial aspect of my wrist and thumb….Just a couple of small breaks in the skin, It bled profusely…(so much so I had to hold pressure for 5-10 minutes, to stop bleeding.) Several blood vessels were burst..as evidenced by the immediate swelling on the base of my thumb…and did I say, PAIN! There was also nerve pain in the wrist. It was quite uncomfortable. I tolerate pain medications, worse than the pain, so rarely take anything, I was awake every hour thru the night.


There were two tooth puncture wounds and another scraped area. It bled very well(a natural wound wash) and so didn’t concern me too badly. Immediately I washed it with peroxide and then alcohol. Applied pressure, (after I thought It had flushed the wound,) to stop the bleeding. We put a sterile bandage on it, then, elevated it on a pillow. Ice was applied, via Ziploc, for about an hour to the swelled areas. It did help the pain.


The next morning I was unpleasantly surprised to find red streaks, extending down into my palm almost to the base of my fingers….and conversely about 9″ the other way, about half-way to my elbow.
Just after my first cup of Joe, I again pulled out the chlorine bleach, Epsom salts and a large stainless steel pot…filled the vessel about half full of water, as hot as I could stand to hold my uninjured hand in for a minute.

  • I mixed about 1/2 cup of each in the water, ..then I mixed in about another half gallon of cool water to reduce the heat for the injured tender area, plunged the injured arm in…
  • I soaked the hand, wrist and as much of the arm as I could keep in the pot. Until the water became cool, swishing it around frequently to get the flow of salts and bleach across the wounds.
  • Then, I patted the wound dry, applied some PRID salve and a light sterile dressing., secured with gauze.
  • I applied one of those “hot hands” to injury site over light dressing to localize the infection. I poured out the soak solution and bleached the pan.
    I did the same process 2 times a day, about every 12 hours, for four days. The red areas began to shrink within hours of the first treatment, and after about three treatments the redness was greatly reduced.
  • I did have to express the wounds, due to the depth of the infection after those first several soaks. After the second day, the 4th soak, the red area had shrank to within 1″ – 1 1/2 circ. of the deepest of the wounds.
  • I continued the soaks until the wound gave no exudate and there was no redness. I did not go to the doctor. By the time Monday morning came, and medical clinic was open, the wounds were healing as evidenced by reducing redness and decreasing drainage..

Lessons learned.

#1 Muzzle the dog before I bathe him! LOL. Seriously, remember a scared animal will hurt you, whether you intend to frighten it or not. Protect yourself from injury if you have a nervous dog.
#2 With the 20/20 hindsight:

A.) I wish I had at least washed the wound with a bleach and Epsom salt mixture and warm water…,instead of the peroxide and alcohol that I did use. A dog bite , even from a known vaccinated dog, is one of the worst injuries you can have, because of the public’s general lack of dental care for their pets and the possibility of some animals procuring their own “wild ” meat…. A human bite is worse.

B.) I should have scrubbed it well– instead of just pouring the wash over it.( even though it bubbled well from the peroxide.)…and even with it bleeding very well. This step alone might have minimized the infection, and prevented much pain.

I plan to make some wound wash to have for future use.., using the same ratio. ..ie..1/8 cup of each standard bleach and Epsom salts, to a half- gallon of water. That will need to be re-made every 3 months, due to the decreasing strength of bleach. I could also keep the recipe on the bathroom mirror, and the ingredients ready to mix.(That way the bleach would be rotated with regular use.) Then, that solution will need to be rinsed from a fresh wound with sterile water or saline solution(think: eye wash/flush/). …and I should have applied the PRID immediately. That drawing salve is the best thing since sliced bread!

C.) What I did right.

The dog was vaccinated, and immediately, initiated wound care. The longer a wound is open without care, the greater the possible contamination. (To SOAK a fresh injury in very hot water immediately, would have increased the swelling and bleeding, so soaking immediately would have been a bad idea.) Applying ice and elevating it, reduced the pain. A pain reliever that was anti- inflammatory such as Motrin or , would have helped with the inflammation, but I can’t take anti-inflammatory medications..


If there is anyone that you will be required to assist in a SHTF situation, you should have a list of all medications they are allergic to…and know what medications and conditions they are routinely treated for.
Develop plans for serious disease treatments before an event occurs. Having a kit for superficial injuries, a kit for diabetic care, a blood pressure kit, and notebooks and pencils/ pens to record what is given to a person. When under stress it’s easy to forget numbers, and progression of illness, writing it down will help focus complete attention on care being given. Know that medications that can be safely given orally, can be given rectally.

If necessary to do this the medication should be placed inside the rectal spincter, against the wall of the intestine. It could be melted in a teaspoon of warm water, and inserted with a syringe, dropper or baster tip.. if available
A secured supply of allergy medications in several forms , and doses should be procured and stock rotated with regular use.Keep the capsules and cream as cool as possible…for longest effectiveness.

Benadryl should be available in liquid, capsule, and cream. Hot liquids, cola and Honey can each be used to help medications assimilate quickly in emergency. Honey is very effective.. also. And doses of medications given with it should be absolutely safe.

Keep the informational sheets on every item your family has stocked for daily and for use as needed. Tylenol has a narrow range of effectiveness that is very close to a toxic level. Tylenol is toxic to the liver and in large doses causes liver failure. The liver can not detoxify it. The liver failure from overdose of this substance is not treatable without a transplant. Be sure to avoid duplication of this medication when giving pre-made cold formula’s.
Multi-use supplies should be procured and placed with medical supplies.

Some examples.

  • Honey,..to expedite effectiveness of oral medications, can be used as a wound dressing, has antibiotic properties..
  • Baking soda, can be used in small doses to relieve indigestion, can be mixed with vinegar to be put on mild sunburn..
  • Vinegar,. Can be used to restore PH balance of woman’s delicate areas, can be applied to a clean cotton cloth to cool a severe sunburn..
  • Vanilla extract ..especially effective on kitchen burns.. the spray that is used to remove gum, can also be used to give immediate cool to a burn.
  • Benadryl in liquid, capsules and cream. Know the amount that is safe for each size child you may care for. Write it down! Place the information with medications.

I generally seek to use the kitchen -herbals, spices and teas.. for common illness and distress’ of different stripes. I have gleaned information from herbal and gardening books,.. and even commercials presented as a “come -on” to buy books. General directions can be found in such sources.

Read and seek information on all the herbs and spices you have available. Write down all the information, with dose, how to prepare,and any cautions for use that you can find documented. Be sure to note what it says about safety in children and pregnancy…Interactions with medications or foods that are known. Is it safe to use with grapefruit?

The guidelines I use, is to procure a book and instructions., for a particular herb or spice. I make the first “batch” of an herbal at half the strength suggested….for whatever the perceived need. I use it at that strength. If I use it and it has the desired effect. I will continue to use it at that strength, but if only partially effective is obtained, I will make it by the full strength recipe for the next “dose” .

I use a variety of teas on a regular basis., I often mix them for a more pleasing flavor or for a combined effect. The mints are my favorites, Spearmint is prolific and invasive unless you keep it cut regularly, that just means I have enough to mix with most (every) thing.

General TIPS and information:

Keep in mind that food can be used to balance the fats/triglycerides in the body. The benefits of grapes has been documented as healthy. Persons that need those benefits can also get the same benefits from the seed of the grape. Olive oil and Grape seed oil can be used to replace butter/margarine and Crisco in recipes, with healthy benefits of the grape and the olive. When the healthy fats are low, they can be raised effectively by adding a teaspoon per serving of either of these to oatmeal or rice. When your body gets the proper fats, you can process the fat soluble vitamins, you feel full longer and the intestines are lubricated.

Each herb, seasoning or other item mentioned in this article… has specific amounts that sources recommend, to bring a desired result. Just like you limit the Tylenol or Aspirin you take, herbs and spices have specific amounts as well. Use them with caution, especially when trying something for the first time, until you know how you respond to an ingredient. Either food or not ( prescribed by a physician or not.)

Some people have harsh reactions to common things. Every person has the ability to have reactions to common items.. Examples….I know of several people who take Valerian for sleep, but I am one of the few ,that have slept the biggest part of 26 hours from a single dose. My DH uses it with only desired effects, and is able to get up after 6 hours. My DD is allergic to Thyme. A family friend takes ” Milk of Magnesia” to stop diarrhea, and “Syrup of Black Draught” for constipation…this persons system is completely opposite of most people’s! These are not recommended uses for these over the counter products.

I limit trying new remedies, to one per week., but often combine several different products over the course of a day, for a single problem…especially when using remedies.. I partake of often.
Write out uses and all available information for a kitchen file and for a medical file. Record the sources of the information , remember, your life may depend on what you have recorded.

Teas: I use these regularly and obtain gentle and effective results most of the time.I can’t remember the last time I drank a tea that did not help in the manner I desired. I can’t say the same for medications that have been prescribed for me at one time or another.

There are specific mixes on the shelves of major grocery store chains…there are ones for specific malady’s…from PMS, to insomnia, intestinal problems, sore throat, immune boosters. This is a good place to start to find the ones that might assist with a problem, or just to determine what flavors you prefer.

Chamomile, – for stomach and to relax for sleep. My Mom was especially surprised by this, When she was growing up she called chamomile, “bitter weeds”. Because when the cows ate them and gave milk, it made the milk have a distinctive bitter flavor. The milk could be used safely,. Granny broke my youngest Uncle from the bottle, because he did not want to drink that “bitter weed” milk… My Dad and his brothers made a big batch of butter with some, in the cleaned out …wringer washing machine, back in the mid to late 40’s. You just use the centers to make the tea, after they are dry. I mix with some kind of mint for my preferred flavor….and sweeten with honey.

Everlasting- (Rabbit Tobacco) for chest congestion with or without wheezing, intestinal imbalances, both diarrhea and constipation.it also helps with balancing the enzymes in the intestines.. for everlasting tea, general instructions, are one ounce of whole herb to 16 oz. of water, steep at least 15 min, may reheat on stove top, but do not place medicinal herbs in microwave and then think they will produce good results. I add a few mint leaves in and sweeten with honey. The usual amount for intestinal problem mixed at this strength is ONE OUNCE, for an adult… More will cause intestinal cramps, This is what I use to treat lactose intolerance with inflammation. This herb has given me more tolerance to all kinds of milk products. (I can eat an ounce of ice cream or drink a couple of ounces of regular milk-without developing the excessive gas that twist my guts.) For chest congestion, to make a cough productive, drink one ounce daily…hot or cold as you prefer… If you wish to know more info on the use of this herb, I would suggest you read articles by the gentleman known as “the southern herbalist”. Just do a search on him and rabbit tobacco, He has some interesting materials ,re; it’s history on his web site.

Green tea is recommended by people who have studied it’s effects more than I.I use it with other teas, because I just don’t care for it’s flavor…so I slip it in any concoction I make that has a strong flavor like citrus or mint.

Ginger tea is soothing, good for nausea and has anti-viral properties. Years ago, it was given to help various measles to manifest. The idea was to break them out and the fever would resolve and healing could begin. Mom remembers drinking it as a child, and she lived thru it.

Orange peels and Zest, can be made into a tea by adding it to a green tea base for a boost in vitamin C.. Pine needles can be brewed to release the vitamin C, for an immunity boost.
Mint, Oh, did I say Mint? These are my favorite, both peppermint and spearmint I have and use often.

SPECIFIC instances/ problem: My immune system is just not as good as it should be. I am a twin,this is common in twins. I have fought anemia for several years, additionally this a known side effect of the anemia. The anemia is a residual effect of extensive intestinal surgery. I use buffalo liver capsules to slowly build my hemoglobin-(from range fed young buffalo). (I also have the option of eating the liver of various critters.) I like liver, just not once or twice daily! I am trying to cut down on the hormones added into the meats that are common. Most iron preparations do not have the intrinsic factor in them.Liver is the only food source I know of. There is only one prescribed medication, small enough I can swallow,(Foltrin) that doesn’t hurt my stomach…so this is an on-going battle to keep my blood count to a desired level.

OCCURANCE: and Initial Assessment: Last week, Tuesday afternoon, I found a cold- sore, fever blister, on the mucosa of my inner jaw. , I had been exposed to the flu-( this, I discovered later.) I don’t run to the doctor for minor things, the office is too busy and my pocketbook is not that deep! No need in exposing others to what I have if I can help it. (Tamiflu is a common anti-viral and was prescribed for a family member- it was to cost 80$ or more.) I was already taking L-Lysine for viral prevention and usually use everlasting tea ,two times a week…for an immune boost, and intestinal benefits.

Actions taken: 1) I doubled the amount of L-Lysine- started taking 1000 mg 2 x a day,(5 days), then ,back to 500 mg morning and night.
2) Then, I rubbed my gum, inner jaw and mucus membranes of my mouth with one drop,( fingertip application from bottle…I inverted bottle, with washed hands, on to a finger and applied amount left on finger..) of Peppermint oil 2 x day( x 3 days, 3) Then, waited an hour ….
4) took the first dose,( I had ever taken).. 2 gtts.(per dropper received in bottle)of Oil of Oregano, in 2 ounces of water. 2 x day x 3 doses.
In 24 hours… the blister had reduced to approx. 1/3 former size., and was no longer sore, with complete healing noted in 4 full days.
What I did right:
1)This is the fastest, I have ever had a cold sore heal…I believe the Oil of Oregano was the difference because I had used both other remedies with good results before, but was not as rapid. You will notice, I called 2 drops of Oil of Oregano in 2 Oz warm water a “dose”. I used it according to the label. This did work.
2) I had already had lab work done to assess dietary/Iron levels.
Should and Could have done:
1)I also had the strong taste of Oregano for quite a while after ingestion. I usually, just drink water but Kool-Aid after would have facilitated the removal of residual flavor. It could have been placed in a teaspoon of tomato sauce, this would have masked the residual flavor, at the very least.
2)There are many natural, quickly available substances that have anti-viral properties, among those are garlic and ginger.
3)Ginger tea (1/8 tsp. of ginger in hot water) with a tsp. honey and a squeeze of lemon would have been good.
I could have used this twice a day instead of the Essential Peppermint Oil. It’s effectiveness is about the same.
4) Been more diligent to keep my blood count up to a desired level..by seeking alternative and additional iron sources-beets,greens- with each ingestion of either the buffalo liver or the liver eaten and the Foltrin supplement, I can raise my iron levels faster.

I have since used 2 drops of oil of Oregano in a little (one Ounce)warm coffee, drank, for pressure in an ear, once at night, just before bed. Woke with no ear-ache or pressure. This stuff works, The taste, well, it could be worse.

Episode of Sudden Allergic Reaction:

A couple of years ago, my DH and I were traveling for a long anticipated trip. We had planned for 16 days duration.. Day one, smooth trip..no change in diet(we had packed and eaten from ice chest),medication, temperature, clothing, or detergents. When we stopped for the night, very late, and got settled into the motel room for a night’s rest.

We experienced anything but rest. Before we could get settled in bed- my DH began to break out in hives! A sudden itching, then he looked down and called my attention to it….A whelt on his upper thigh, quickly passing to a blister stage! I could see them pop up before my eyes- red splotches getting bigger and becoming blisters 2-3 inches long -within 2 minutes..

What caused it, did he get something on his skin? Intense itching, quickly increasing in area and whelts developing with each scratch.What to do? strange area…no contacts except a late desk in the motel….miles from anyone we know… We had lotion and Benadryl cream in reach and He began to apply it to the first areas.. ..(3 minutes from start.)…along with intense itching ..areas.. beginning over his thighs, belly, back lower …DH got in cool shower…to cool, and reduce…and flush.

First….I got out the /prn/ meds package for both of us…and quickly gave him 100mg..(.4 -25 mg capsules) of generic Benadryl.. As He turned on and adjusted the shower, I handed him the capsules and a small amount of coke. The acid in Cola helps medications in capsule form melt quicker to release medication… Warm liquid will work to do the same thing.( I had used this dose for a red wasp sting, when I was at a similar weight. Close to 200lbs.)
I also started recording signs and symptoms, and what we had given him, and the time and dose of everything that we did for comfort and the symptoms as they appeared….so I would have a record should he require emergency services, so it could be with him,( if I was in a separate vehicle, ie..behind an ambulance), In triage situations, it used to be the case that, Doctors at a remote scene would record medications, doses and times on a patients forehead.( I got to play the victim in a couple of emergency drills.)

  • … 15 minutes pass, after benadryl loading dose..(all time from here are from this dose) with more whelts spreading from the first one we noted on his left thigh to over his thighs, abdomen, both lower extremities with severe itching. The cool shower helps some with swelling and itching… the whelting begins to slow…but still progressing… While he chills in the shower, I get out all of our routine and “as needed” medications to see what options we had in our arsenal. Anything to give any effect over the next 20-30 minutes, the time the Benadryl’s full effectiveness could be realized.(When I take Benadryl, for a sting, I usually notice effects in 45 min to one hour)
  • ..at 20 min…I give him a 12 hour and a 24 hour anti-histamine. ., then 25 min. me, watching, assessing, .he’s still itching, I encouraged him to let water cool and not scratch…,he noticed his airway seemed tight… he began to be scared,
  • …, I handed him the albuterol inhaler. And he used two full puffs…still in the shower.
  • .. then I got out the pocket knives, and a cigarette lighter which I keep in medical kit) (DH whittles with) and began to think about the things I had witnessed in the medical world…..and what I had that would work to get and maintain an airway until an ambulance could arrive. I wiped them, briskly, with alcohol and peroxide, each twice.., and placed them on the table ,on a clean napkin. and a clean, still wrapped straw… I got the phone number for the front desk. and placed the phone close.
  • …@30 min…the albuterol has begun to kick in, breathing is beginning to ease and he is not so scared
  • …the blisters stop growing. And begin to slowly become smaller.. he begins climbing out of the shower, chilling further. And I mix these three creams equal portions cortisone ,Benadryl, and vagicaine (20%benzocaine) cream , to apply the worst areas..to help the swelling, itching and allergic from a topical standpoint… (This also works well on severe ant bites)
  • ….@ 35 min…all symptoms continues to decrease. It’s now 1;30 am.. and DH begins to relax…itching is reduced to a nuisance, breaths are without effort, wheeze or congestion. He is able to finish a large cola with ice.. then… He goes to sleep. I watch his whelps reduce and note them every 15 min for the next two hours. It’s now 3:30, I am still awake, tired from driving,
  • … but unable to sleep. Now 4 am, blisters almost completely gone, I count his respirations and listen for audible wheezes or congestion. I lie close and listen to his heart beat even and strong…sometime after 4:30 sleep finds me, for a little while.

The things I had that might be used were…. 4 hour antihistamine-instructions said repeat possible q 4hours..(generic benadryl). a 12 hour antihistamine and a 24 hour antihistamine. Benadryl cream, hand lotion, 1% cortizone cream, and vagicaine Generic) and an albuterol inhalation for emergency asthma attacks…alcohol, peroxide, a basic first aide kit with a few sterile bandages, a small roll of medical tape,antibiotic ointment, matches and a cigarette lighter..Pen, writing tablet. Had an emergency airway had to be cut in his trachea, suction would have been needed, a sterile shot syringe of 20 cc would have been nice, airway would have had to be held in place until secured..after the emergency care was completed on him, then it would have been my turn for care!


When we returned home, It was time for his routine visit. to his PCP. We reported the episode, and I had my written notes from what I had observed and what actions we had taken. He was a bit surprised we had not required the ER, for this episode. He said that he has known of several people who did this, who were unable to find the cause of the allergic reaction. The usual treatment is to prevent another occurrence by use of low dose anti-histamines.

The things we did right:

  • …. Immediate use of dose of anti-histamine.
  • …. We got the swelling down, by using topical lotion, cool water
  • ….and further reduced them by applying mixed cream to reduce inflammation, itching.
  • ……Used his prescribed inhaler for steroidal effect…on the lungs.
  • ….., forced fluids after edema started to subside….this flushed much of the anti-histamines
  • …. I continued his anti-histamines for two days.
  • ….We tried to isolate anything he had eaten, or experienced differently. No change in diet, laundry detergent or medications..so we could eliminate those sources. For allergens.

His regular PCP… thought I had done overkill on antihistamines- because I gave all three antihistamines…. a loading dose of 4 hour, a single 12 hour one, and a 24 hour one..we were more frightened of it not taking effect than any complications from too much.

When you realize your airway is rapidly closing, and the medicines have not begun to reverse that process…or the one you love is having this problem-overkill was temporary,…at worst blood filtering is done three times weekly for kidney shut down, airway closure is a permanent thing-can’t fix that later, you just have about 5 minutes until it is too late!
In hindsight,… I wish I had waited until the Benadryl had kicked in and he was ready to go to sleep, then I should have given the 12 hour one only. Or waited until three hours after initial dose then given the 12 hour time limited one…
Had I not given a longer lasting anti-histamine, he could have had an episode in the middle of his and my sleep time. We never did find out exactly what the allergic reaction was, He has had several others, but none as severe as this first one. We got him an Epi -pen, but it has expired….and we never used it. His MD gave him a prescription for another anti-histamine, because he had complications from Decadron, and the others that are over the counter.
I have at least 2 allergy medications with us at all times. and the inhaler….his prescription and extra Benadryl. He rarely has to take anything but his script.

He put him on a low dose of .(ALLEGRA, generic.60 mg daily)which he took daily for several months. After about 5 of these reactions, we decided it must be a delayed reaction to bug/tick/mosquito bites..so we watch them much closer now. We try to limit exposure to all insects At the first point of any bite, we watch it, and continue to watch it for several days until it is completely gone….sometimes it takes 2 weeks….If it starts to increase in red area,..(.if there is any doubt, I mark it with an ink pen, for comparison.) we give the anti-histamine that is prescribed.

Bottom Line: None of us wish to do an emergency Trach – especially on our mate.
The loading dose of Benadryl, and cola…were critical, The cool shower, lotion. And creams helped to calm the blisters. and the itching….and the albuterol inhaler which was prescribed for his asthma attack, gave him the steroid effect to keep an airway for those final minutes it took the Benadryl to be effective.

Caution: some people develop allergy to their own prescribed inhalers. This happened to one of my nieces , and she almost died…she used her own inhaler! In a SHTF situation she would not have survived.
Never use medications of another person…one never knows what allergies we may develop.
NOTE: Benadryl:

Our vet recommends generic Benadryl for a nervous or car sick dog @ the rate of one mg. to one lb., up to 25 lbs. This is what is given for snakebite to dogs. Also along with a large amount of bacon, or similar grease.

  • Develop the protocols you will use…if a child steps on a nail..(.record when tetanus shots are given, and know how long until you need another..)..if there is an allergic reaction, a localized reaction versus a shock reaction like my honey had…a broken ankle or a badly sprained one…a broken leg, a broken wing..Know what you need, how you have to use supplies, what you must procure from surroundings..
  • Use each injury/illness as an opportunity to learn from those you trust for the care of your loved ones. Write down what you learn as soon as you can for accuracy, repeat instructions for after care, back to one who gives them to verify you understand them.

May you have good knowledge when those you love, depend on you for assistance.

This contest will end on February 16 2013  – prizes include:

Well what are you waiting for – email your entries today. But please read the rulesthat are listed below first… Yes

About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of TheSurvivalistBlog.net. He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Thanks for the info. This one goes in the book.

  2. Had a similar requirement for wound care. My wife picked up our cat who was ready to fight a stray. Cat bit her arm, 4 puncture wounds. Bled profusely. Got the bleeding stopped, washed with peroxide, used ice for the swelling. Next day result similar as yours. Infection was setting in. We proceeded with daily soaks in hot water with epsom salts to keep the wounds open and draining. We did use anti-biotics (doxycillin) that were procured through non-pharmeceutical channels. The twice daily soaking and draining proceeded while taking the course of antibiotics. Wounds healed completely in less than two weeks.

  3. Good after action report Denise. On the bite wound, Doctors will usually prescribe either Keflex (cephalexin) or Augmentin (amoxicillin/clavulanic acid) without even waiting for any signs of infection to develop. Both of these are available in ‘fish’ form.

    On the allergic reaction, I’d have called 911 at the first signs of respiratory distress. Ani-shock is nothing to mess with yourself when Dr’s and paramedics are available. Get Benedryl onboard fast, dissolving strips or liquid capsules work the fastest. There’s some research that H-3 blockers, like Zantac, might help as well. Primatene Mist (no longer available) would help too if you still have some stored. There’s some kind of OTC replacement for it, but it’s expensive and requires batteries I think… Epipens are best, but require an Rx, are expensive, and have a relatively short shelf life. Happy Weekend all.

    • Memory, mine ain’t what it was.

      Augmention-first choice, Doxcycline as Matt said (plus maybe metronidazole) second choice for a bite. And H-2, not H-3, on the Zantac.

    • sw't-tater says:

      Wasn’t primatene mist about the same as albuterol? It’s been too long since I saw one of the containers.most asthma meds have same general action..the big thing is making sure to have one that you are not allergic to.

    • Tactical G-Ma says:

      This is the 3rd time trying to answer you. 1st two entries got lost in the ether.
      Now, albuterol is a bronchial dilater, nothing more. In this case it kept the airway open until the antihistamine kicked in.
      Primatene mist and inhaler is epinephrine, or adrenaline, and stimulates the entire autonomic nervous system which normally is unnecessary.
      Epinephrine is usually administered by epi-pen when anaphylaxis has occurred and all systems are shutting down.
      But as one who has battled asthma and allergies my entire life, my experience is that albuterol+benadryl is preferable.

      • sw't-tater says:

        Yes,I remembered the instructions on the epi pen said go to the ER.ASAP. the epi is short acting. It just buys you a few min.then you need another dose of something. Thats why the benadryl and albuterol work better…they have similar half-lifes..effectiveness times. Benadryl 12.5mg with B6 50 mg.is also a very safe anti-emetic..my surgeon told me it was even safe for use in pregnancy..to.give crush and put in honey or jelly.is effective very quickly. When my neice had the bad reaction to her own asthma inhailer it was albuterol.they rotated meds every hour,then two hours,sat her strait up in an ice cold room. We found out about it after she was able to talk..we have no idea how many meds they gave her to stabilize her enough to put in a room,but it was several hours worth.

  4. Just heard of a lady who was bitten by her dog. She has spent several weeks in the hospital (including intensive care) and will spend months either in the hospital or recovering. She lost both legs below the knees, all but parts of one thumb and a little bit of her nose. Apparently there is a bacteria in the mouths of our pets – in the right circumstance it could create the perfect storm of problems for us.

    Things to take away from this is that we shouldn’t treat any animal bite or scratch lightly now and in the future treat them like they could be life threatening because they could be.

    Several years ago I had a cat that had one infection too many. Was preparing to take him to the vet when the infection broke open. He scratched me good and of course the infection got on my hands and on those scratches. I actually had to demand an antibodic from the doctor (never been one to take medications at the drop of the hat so wasn’t too worried about developing resistance but was worried about an infection starting on a weekend without medical services being easily available). The cat went to the vet the next day (at that time our vet still had Saturday hours) – the cat had averaged an infection 2 or 3 times a year for a couple of years.

    Should learn more about small animal vet care as vet care may be hard to come by in the future. Currently have 4 cats so anything is possible.

  5. Sorry guys. Animal bite, even pet, if theres any redness the following day: see a doctor. Save the home remedies for when there are NO doctors/ERs.

    • sw't-tater says:

      Where we live ER that has diagnostics is 50miles.there is one closer that will do some tests and stabilize a heart attack,but to get real medical care you have to be able to last long enough to get to it.My care is all paid for by me.If I can treat a problem without hospital care,effectively…that’s what I do.I don’t have money to throw away..that means seeing my pcp in office.It’s extremely hard to schedule an emergency,so if I need medical care and I think it can wait,I wait. Until the office opens,don’t need the pcp by then..no need in going. If it can’t wait I have a mini bag ready with supplies for two..including some eats for that type event. Fuel in the car for the trip. Next time..I have learned to scrub with the cleaning solution and use a drawing salve.IMMEDIATELY. I have no desire to go sit for four hours in an understaffed ER.with sleep deprived staff,discussing their latest events,because they don’t see the emergency in our brief description of our reason for the visit…at 1am. Yes, this happened recently when a family member had a sudden vascular event,we were afraid it was heart or stroke related, but they didn’t speak to us until 2 hours later..well past the time for immediate action.real easy to waste time..if it’s not important to you. Save the ER for when I really need it..A twisted gut,a heart attack or something that mimics the same symptoms ,like gall bladder episode, an anaphalactic reaction-not caught early.ammbulance response is about 15 min.so that’s good. Asthmanefrin..just now advertized on TV..first advert I’ve seen.might want to check this out

  6. Millie in KY says:

    Any kind of bite is bad. Might be a good time to remind everyone to update their tetanus shots before SHTF.

  7. Thank you, Denise! I got this printed out and ready to read 4 or 5 times, which is the only way I can commit anything to memory any more. It’s not easy to get old! :>)

  8. Wonderful article! Thank you for all the useful information.

    When I was a child we did not run to the doctor for much. My father had a couple of things he did to cure us. Cuts and punctures were soaked in hot as you could stand it Epsom salt water for 20 minutes twice a day until you were closed up.

    Ear infections, sinus and cuts and punctures were also treated by taking us to the beach (Gulf) and us swimming in salt water until we were drug out-we loved the water and hated to go home. It took a very short time, day or so, and we’d be cured.

    This worked every time and we tested it with rake tongs through our feet, various cuts and we certainly got ear and sinus infections.

    Thought I’d add my bit of “old timey” lore that works in case any one needs it.

    • sw't-tater says:

      A garlic toe peeled,the root end cut off,set aside 10 min. Then place freshly cut root end in ear canal.starts easing pain in just a few min…and it feels cool..the garlic reduces the swelling.leave in place for an hour or so.I went to sleep with mine. (Turn affected ear up.)too big to get lost in ear canal.

  9. Grandpappy says:

    This reinforces some information I am reviewing on the need for prompt wound care. Thanks for posting, and please post more!

  10. Great article. Thank you for sharing it! My doctor told me that Benedryl is not a substitute for treating anaphylaxis (am allergic to spiders), and recommended I carry it with me as a backup if my EpiPen fails.

    I believe the dosage is calculated by weight and age. Clinical Benedryl dosage is listed here for anyone interested: http://reference.medscape.com/drug/benadryl-nytol-diphenhydramine-343392

  11. rev. dave says:

    The point about muzzling the dog is a good one, but training the pup by bathing or showering it would have avoided that particular problem. Of course, who thinks about bathing their sweet-smelling little pup until it’s an adult that rolls on a road-kill?

    But, prepping is about planning. So bathe your pups until they like it – or at least tolerate it gracefully.

  12. Petticoat Prepper says:

    Denise H,

    Lots of good information. Just a couple of thoughts from me:

    We all need to remember not to feed honey to children/babies under one year.

    Oddly enough I’ve a bit of experience with dog bites. At 4 yrs I had a standard poodle rip my left ear off me. The Doctor sewed it back on (just a tad bit higher…) as a young adult I worked for a Vet and had lots of dog and cat bites and scratches, plus I’ve owned and operated my own dog grooming shop for over 20 years. I think I can say I’ve had my share of bites.

    To muzzle a dog without a true muzzle you can use an old nylon stocking or thin ribbon. You bring the ends together to find the middle and tie the start of a knot to make a loop to go around the dog’s muzzle. The first tied part sits on the top of the muzzle. Then bring the two ends around under the chin/bottom of muzzle and tie again. Pull the ends around under the ears to the back of the head and tie a knot/bow to hold everything in place. It will give a bit for the dog but will keep them from biting you. (Not too tight but enough they can’t open their mouth.)

    I still get bit on occasion. A pressure bite is the worst, tissue damage but no opening. I’d rather bleed. I let a bleeding bite run it’s course and then scrub (yes, scrub it) with an antiseptic wash. I get mine at wallyworld-store brand 10% Povidone-Iodine.

    I also hot pack like you with the hottest water I can stand. I also continue to wash with the antiseptic wash. I don’t cover bites. I want to see it plus I figure the air will help.

    So just my $.02 on a really good post!

    • Petticoat Prepper says:


      Put a small amount of cotton ball in dog ears to keep out bath water. They don’t drain water from the ear canal like we do. Can make for a nasty vet bill due to possible ear infection. Just remember to take the cotton out after the bath. 🙂

    • sw't-tater says:

      This dog is the most difficult I have ever had,..he was a rescue of about three years when we got him and has a mild hip dysplasia.I can tell when he is hurting,as he learns what is not acceptable he is getting better..but His learning curve isn’t short enough to suit me. WE got a mesh muzzle,but he can still bite even with it on.I told DH he was going to get a better one,but it has not materialized yet.He likes the smell of his daddy’s soap,and has had several sponge baths.I believe he was abused before we got him.He is a wonderful companion,if any of us is ill,he only leaves the sick one long enough to take care of business…andhe isn’t happy if we aren’t where he can keep tabs on us:)

      • rev. dave says:

        sw’t-tater, I have one who didn’t stop threatening and trying to bite me for 3 years, and he too had been abused. We’re cool now – 6 years later, but I wanted to tell you there was a ‘watershed’ event that seemed to cause the change. I slept on the sofa one night and he slept there with me. Honestly I didn’t get a lot of sleep because he kept moving around, but after that night he changed suddenly. Apparently piling up like that brought up some ‘pack instinct’ or something in him.

        The problem didn’t stop entirely, but the there was a definite change of attitude. He still gets growly sometimes and very infrequently snaps at me – but only hits me with his jaw or the front of his fangs – never actually tries to bite me. I think they suffer PTSD as we do, and that it’s just flash-backs of a sort.

        Just be ‘steady’ about how you treat him, and give him time. Heck, it took me 16 years to recover from my first marriage, and I can talk about it – dogs can’t.

  13. Great article Denise. Thank you for sharing. I also wanted to mention that I had a similar reaction in a hotel. I have many allergies and Celiac disease. My problem is the hotel sheets and apparently what they wash them in. My solution is to get a fleece sleeping bag and my own pillow and bring them on every trip where I will stay in a hotel. This solution has worked wonders for me.

  14. Swabbie Robbie says:

    Puncture wounds need to drain. They heal from the bottom up. Soaking is what needs to be done with a puncture wound. Don’t use salves that seal the wound up. Infection will build inside the closed wound. Sterile, breathable dressing changed frequently.

    • sw't-tater says:

      Prid drawing salve…it’s the best no bad odor,pulls out infection.costs less than fibe dollars,for enough to treat several serious wounds.(classify as serious- as any wound which would require more than three days close attention) Always maintaining purity of container by using sterile bandaid to remove a small amount for wound care is especially important.

  15. Grandpappy says:

    A coworker was bitten by a spider, the docs are sure it’s a brown recluse. She was dealing with leg[stasis?] ulcers that weren’t healing well-an indication of other problems, so she ended up with massive infection, long series of IV antibiotics. Now she’s in the hospital, no health insurance, small farmstead cared for by relatives and friends, social worker involved. Now she will be a resident at the facility where she worked as CNA. And used up her sick leave.

    All this from some neglected injuries. And don’t forget the spiders.

  16. A wonderful article! So much information, I’m also going to have to print it out and read several time and keep for a reference. I have never thought of the different uses of honey. I also think everyone should keep Benadryl on hand. I’ve needed it on a few occasions. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Something else to remember some foods are contraindicated with certain medications. When my sister was a teenager she stepped on a bone that her cat took out of a pan on the stove. She ended up with a really nasty infection and the medication they prescribed was fairly strong at that time. What they didn’t tell us (this was before they sent you home with mounds of paperwork) was that dairy products, particularily cheese, should not be eaten while on the medication. Cheese had been high on our menu for a few weeks before the accident but wasn’t eaten (purely by chance) while she was taking the medication. Part of the problem was that it was a puncture wound which went deep. In the end she recovered and all survived – even the cat.

    Know the infection, medication and what you feel comfortable handling at home. A friend’s husband is diabetic and has recently lost a toe. His wife is having to deal with helping treat the infection – which hasn’t been easy – the smell and mess could be more than some people can handle.

    While there are many things I dealt with in keeping my father and mother healthy there are some things I will need more experience in handling before I would be comfortable handling them in a true emergency/grid down situation.

  18. BullDogBeau says:

    Excellent article! Thank you for going through all of that for us LOL. It was for us right?
    I definately enjoyed your AAR on each situation.
    Great Job.

  19. Denise, terrific article! I printed it out for reference later.

    One tip on the oregano oil – I use this a lot, and as you mentioned, the taste is…challenging. 🙂 I found some empty capsules on Amazon, and when I take oregano oil, I just put the drops into a capsule or two and take it that way – much, much easier, without the aftertaste. 🙂

  20. Dog bite or other animal bite: If it breaks the skin and results in puncture wounds and you can go to the Doc…do so! While SHTF medicine and herbal medicine DOES work, these type of wounds are nothing to mess with and should be taken seriously. Yes, I do work in the healthcare field.(Registered Respiratory Therapist for 25+ years) You were lucky, this time. Depending on the pathogenic organism involved infection and sepsis can, in some instances, only take a matter of hours before it becomes absolutely life threatening. Allergic reactions: An antihistamine such as benadryl is the drug of choice.(I was also trained in Allergy/Immunology at Walter Reed…when it was still around.) If the airway starts to close…it’s ER time…now. You did the right thing with the antihistamines…a little much, but the right thing. Anyway, if you insist on treating a serious allergic reaction at home where the airway is endangered…learn to do a “cut down” so you can place an artificial airway should you have to. It’s fairly easy and is done just below the “adams apple” just about where the collar bones make a “notch”. It’s actually easy to feel…softer than the rest of the area. After the “cut”(you’ll know you are there ’cause the person will be breathing through the cut you just made) place a tube of some sort about as big as your little or ring finger in the hole…be sure to tape it or it will go south. Anyway, all things done…worked…, but in certain situations go to the ER…if possible and if absolutely not possible, then practice what you know. Again, good job, it worked…this time.

  21. sw't-tater says:

    I am glad we came thru our crisis…and glad that some believe they can profit from our learning curve.We live far enough out that,if there is a true emergency,we need to be confident in how we will treat all issues.the dog bite was late on friday night,by the time my physician was available on monday,healing as evidenced by reduction in swelling and reddness was evident.I didn’t need him then..no money to run to the emergency unit,for them to tell me you did right.Better ways to spend 3K. Also know that while you can’t give honey to a small child,grape jelly will serve the same purpose..as will apple(as long as no allergy) the medication given with jelly can be absorbed very quickly. One of the kits I want to get for our first aid kit is airway management..have a little. …those allergic reactions can come awful fast,once you or yours need those items there’s no time for a do over…and allergic reactions o ccur in every season. Computer has been down this week,electrical complications post storm.Thanks for the input.

  22. Something I learned from my Grandmother. When ever anyone showed signs of an infection like yours from the dog bite she always used corn meal mush. You add corn meal to water and bring to a boil, you want it to be somewhat thick. A little thicker than batter for corn bread. Let it cool just enough that you can stand to keep body part in it. If cut was on hand or foot she would put the mush in a sock and make you wear it. You keep it on until it cools off, and can repeat a few times a day. It has always worked for me. It just draws out all of the infection. It usually works with just one treatment but I have never had a really bad infection.

  23. So sorry to read about you’re illness.

    I was surprised to learn that you were able to buy Foltrin. I thought Sandoz stopped making it. I used to take it, but my pharmacy stopped carrying it due to it no longer being available from the manufacturer. If you are willing and able, could you email the place where I can purchase it? I would greatly appreciate it. I’m taking another called Ferocon, but my body doesn’t respond to it as well as it did Foltrin.

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