In a survival situation, due to the increased time you will spend outside in the woods foraging for edible plants, hunting, trapping, and possibly living outside, you will have bites of various kinds fairly often. These will primarily be from insects such as ticks, fleas, spiders, mosquitoes, wasps, bees, and others.
There will also most likely be animal bites from domestic animals gone feral, like packs of dogs, coyote-dog mixes, wild cats, as well as wild animals such as foxes, bats, and snakes. Unfortunately in such a scenario the chance of getting a human bite also is increased significantly.
All of these bites have the potential to develop into very serious infections and in some cases can be fatal (think rabies). Being a Prepper involves being proactive as much as humanly possible, to minimize any future threats to you, your group’s, or your family’ survival.
One thing you can do right now is to make sure every one of your family members is properly immunized with a tetanus vaccine. No matter what your thoughts are about vaccines, tetanus is one that is indispensable. A tetanus vaccine is given every ten years with a booster every ten years until you are sixty-five years old.
Now is the time to get your tetanus vaccine; do not wait. In a post collapse situation all vaccines will most likely be totally unavailable. Almost all vaccines have to be refrigerated and will spoil and new production is unlikely.
Why do you need a tetanus vaccine?
The bacteria that causes tetanus is ubiquitous (this means it is everywhere) and comes from the bacteria Clostridium tetani. Clostridium t. This a normal inhabitant of soil and this explains why it is everywhere. Clostridium tetani enters the body through open wounds, bites, etc. Once in the body it produces a toxin (poison) called Tetanospasmin which is a neurotoxin (a toxin that damages the nervous system). This results in such violent muscle spasms that it can cause your jaw to lock closed in a violent clenching of your facial muscles, hence the common name of lockjaw. The spasms are so violent they can break bone, teeth, tear muscle, and before the advent of the tetanus vaccine was frequently fatal.
In a survival situation you will not be able to treat this and it will be fatal, and a miserable death at that.
That is why I am strongly encouraging you and your family or survival group to be proactive and get your tetanus boosters now, not tomorrow. If you are uncertain as to the date of your previous tetanus vaccine then get one now, it will not hurt you if it is too soon.
General Principles for All Bites and Stings
There are certain principles that will help concerning any type of bite you might encounter.
- All bites should be cleaned thoroughly with soap and water if available or hydrogen peroxide.
- If no soap is available, flush out any open bite with copious amounts of water.
- A mix of one part Betadine to nine parts water can also be made and used to flush out any bite or wound.e application of an activated charcoal poultice to any sting or bite as soon as possible will help immensely. Activated charcoal is always helpful due to its incredible surface area and its ability to absorb toxins and substances of all types on its surface.
- These poultices should be changed often, preventing them from drying out.
- In an open animal bite with a macerated or chewed up surface the activated charcoal should be generously applied to the inside of the wound and a poultice over it. This will insure contact of the charcoal with all areas of the wound in order to better absorb the various toxins as well as the microorganisms from the animal’s mouth.
- There is no downside to the use of activated charcoal; it is completely inert and cannot harm you in any way.
- It does make a mess, but under these circumstances who really cares.
In the case of any allergic reactions, as a survival medic you will need to access the patient and determine the severity of the reaction. If a patient develops systemic (whole body) symptoms after a sting or a bite then this should be a clue that you may have to intervene to interrupt this allergic cascade before it becomes potentially life threatening.
Systemic symptoms such as lethargy (tired and listless behavior), severe swelling at the site of the bite, near it, or in the face and throat, rapid heartbeat, feeling faint, wheezing and difficulty breathing, generalized itching, etc. should all be treated as a medical emergency. If you have an EpiPen this is the time to immediately give it. Also give the patient an antihistamine such as Benadryl. The dose of Benadryl should be 25 mg every four hours as needed for a mild reaction or 50 mg every four hours for a severe reaction.
Limit the blood flow to the area of any bite. If it is on an arm or leg you should keep the limb elevated and if severe apply intermittent tourniquets, for no more than ten minutes at a time. After ten minutes loosen the tourniquet to avoid permanent damage to the areas “downstream” from it. Ice or any cold substance should be applied directly to the site to help decrease blood flow and also to decrease swelling.
There are many things in the Prepper world that we prepare for that are unlikely to happen; this is NOT one of those occurrences. The odds of you or one of your family or survival group members getting bit is very likely.