blood vessels

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Man warming over a campfire in snow

By  – SurvivoPedia

Winter is accompanied by extra risks for injuries and illnesses such as frostbite and hypothermia. There are natural treatments for winter injuries so that if you’re caught with no access to medical treatment, you’ll know what to do to survive.


Frostbite occurs when your extremities are exposed to cold and the tissue actually begins to freeze. This happens because your body is attempting to maintain its core temperature in order to protect vital organs. To do this, it constricts the vessels so that blood isn’t flowing near the surface where it will be cooled.

This means that your extremities aren’t getting the blood flow needed to keep them warm and cells and blood vessels will start to freeze.

There are several different stages of frostbite and the higher the stage, the more likely it is that you’ll sustain permanent damage. This is a serious condition that can quickly get out of control so your best option is to avoid it altogether.

Prevention of frostbite is key if you want to keep all of your body parts. That means keeping your entire body covered and warm. Mittens are better than gloves and waterproof clothing is best. Even mild frostbite causes damage to your tissues. Here are the phases, the symptoms that accompany them and how to treat yourself in order to save the extremity, if possible.

The most common locations of frostbite are your fingers, toes, ears and nose; keep them covered and warm. If you start to notice tingling or a loss of feeling, do whatever you need to do in order to get them warm again!

Stage 1: Frostnip.The first stage of frostbite is frostnip. You’ll notice that the tips of your extremity will start to tingle and will look red. As it progresses it may begin to look white. Your skin may also feel hard. They’ll feel cold and stiff, then go numb. Your epidermis is starting to freeze. If you catch frostbite at this stage and stop it, you won’t suffer any permanent damage. Get inside if possible or build a fire. At least get somewhere dry and out of the wind.

Continue reading at SurvivoPedia: Surviving When The Frostbite Bit You




Although many survival manuals and emergency first-aid guides detail the effects of a gunshot on the human body, stabbing wounds from knives and other sharp objects are often overlooked. However, during an emergency situation it is likely that knives and other implements will be common weapons for many as personal supplies of ammunition become limited. As such, it is important to know how to give first-aid to those in your party who may be stabbed while bugging-out or defending your retreat.

What kind of damage does a stabbing cause?

Before you go into the actual techniques of treating the wound, you should understand the of damage a stabbing wound can cause.

  • Any stabbing causes lots of bleeding, but a sharp blade causes more. When dealing with stabbing wounds, expect a fair amount of blood. Dull blades cause veins and arteries to spasm, opening and closing, while sharp blades just leave the blood vessels open which causes extra bleeding.
  • Stabbing is likely to cause infection. Knives and other stabbing weapons are rarely kept sterile, and the blade puts dirty metal in direct contact with the bloodstream. Larger stab wounds also open the skin, exposing open blood vessels to infection from the air.
  • Stabbing is unlikely to kill instantly, and can even go unnoticed if the subject goes into shock. Even being stabbed in the heart or the throat is unlikely to kill someone immediately. The infamous case of the Austrian Empress Elizabeth demonstrated this clearly when she was stabbed in the heart by an assassin, only to survive a carriage ride and a 100 yard walk to a riverboat before collapsing. She never knew that she had been stabbed at all, and even her nearby courtier merely thought she had taken ill as shock caused her skin to pale. The wound itself was not found until much later, when a small bloody hole was discovered when medical staff pulled the Empress’s clothes aside to determine what was wrong with her.
  • Wounds to the chest and abdomen can be extremely deadly from even a small wound if they go deep. Knives can puncture lungs, slice organs, and cause internal bleeding and swelling that harms organ function. Stab wounds near the intestines can pierce them, and can also cause them to be pushed out of the gut through the hole.
  • Deaths from stabbing are primarily caused by blood loss, infection, shock, and organ failure. 
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When to offer first-aid

Before you go rushing in to help someone, even a friend or family member, you have to ensure that there isn’t something else you need to deal with first. In a defensive situation you will have to pry your attention away from a person screaming in pain to make sure that no other human threats are present. Only go to help someone once you’re sure that the area is safe and that you can reach the person without becoming injured yourself!

How to treat the wound

Stabbing wounds can be extremely tricky depending on where and how the person is stabbed. If the stab is shallow, a simple cleaning of the wound and a sterile bandage might be all they need. However, a wound that punctures a lung or slices through the liver is immediately life threatening, and is beyond the scope of general first-aid. Therefore, these instructions can help completely treat a minor stab wound, but are limited to merely keeping a seriously stabbed person alive awhile longer until trained medical help arrives, if it is available.

  1. Inspect the patient, and determine the extent of their injuries. Unless the person was caught unawares, they may have multiple stabs and slashes on their body, or clothing may obscure any wounds at all. Part clothing, and look for all wounds before starting your treatment unless there is an obviously serious wound that need immediate treatment (massive amounts of blood, particularly if it is spurting out like a geyser should be treated as quickly as possible!)
  2. Apply a facemask and sterile gloves if possible. At the very least, disinfect your hands. Before the modern world of antibiotics and advanced medicine, battlefields killed men by the thousands through infection. Your hands need to be clean and your mouth should be kept away from the wound to reduce the chances of infection in a world without easy access to antibiotic medicines.
  3. If the person is conscious, begin working but also talk with them. They probably won’t feel much pain to help you know where wounds are, but talking helps keep the person calm and slows heartrate. If any wounds are particularly nasty (say, a knife sticking out of their leg) keep their eyes averted so they don’t focus on it.
  4. If present, leave the weapon in the body. This reduces bleeding and keeps you from accidentally cutting any more vessels when it is removed. Don’t jostle it when helping, and if you move the patient have someone to steady it and keep it from moving. Weapons left in the body should only be removed by knowledgeable medical staff that can immediately perform needed surgery to correct potential damage.
  5. Choose the wound that is bleeding the most and stanch the flow. Any wound where blood is spurting out has priority unless there is serious flow elsewhere, since spurting blood comes from an artery that your body desperately needs. A tourniquet may be needed if there are multiple serious wounds, but it is always better to apply direct pressure instead since that actually stops bleeding rather than cutting off blood flow. Keep a barrier between yourself and the patient’s blood. If you lack gloves, use layers of clean cloth. If you have helpers, clean their hands and let them apply the pressure so you can continue directing things.
  6. Proceed to stanch bloodflow from each major wound, if there are more than one. If possible, have the person sit up and lift limbs above where the heart would be to slow bloodflow. If the wounds are mainly in the legs, lay the patient flat and lift their legs up on a chair or box.
  7. Once you have some control over the bleeding, begin cleaning the wounds in order from most serious to least serious. Remove debris if present, but remember that even a wound without debris has had a dirty sharp implement jab at it, so they all need cleaning. Clean water is the best for sheer irrigation, but in a pinch peroxide or even alcohol will work. As salt is an excellent natural cleanser, a mix of 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of warm clean water is perfect here. Be aware that there will be pain when applying cleaning liquids, so if the person is somewhat conscious give them warning.
  8. Once a wound is clean, close smaller gaping wounds. Butterfly bandages can obviously help here if they are the correct size. Otherwise, glue (on the outside of the wound only!) and duct tape can make an effective placeholder. You want to close the wounds to prevent infectious materials from getting inside, and to keep the wound fairly dry.
  9. If a larger wound refuses to stop bleeding, DO NOT CLOSE IT. Instead, pack it with clean rags and cover with tape. The tape should be reasonably loose: it is primarily a strong covering, not a wound binder, and you want to be able to change out the rags as needed. Some clean spiderwebs can be used over the rags and under the tape, as an extra anti-bacterial layer if you choose.
  10. Keep the person resting, and apply antibiotic ointment if you have it periodically. Check the area furthest away from the heart for each limb that has a bandage on it: check fingers for arm wounds and toes for leg wounds. If a bandage is too tight, it may cut off blood flow to the area below it, and you will need to loosen it immediately.

In many places, the ability to properly treat a knife wound is already invaluable. When disaster strikes and the dredges of society decide to make their move for your supplies, be sure that you can patch up your group of defenders and keep everyone alive.


Experience helps. Let us know.

Have you experienced what it’s like seeing someone stabbed? Do you have experience in treating these wounds? Sound off in the comments!


This article first appeared at Prepared For That: Simple Emergency First-Aid: How to Treat a Stab Wound

Winter brings lower temperatures, snow and many health risks that people may not be aware of.

Knowing some of the unexpected concerns of winter can help you take the necessary steps to avoid them.

1. Raynaud’s Disease/Raynaud’s Phenomenon

Raynaud’s is a disorder marked by a vasospasm, or a narrowing of the blood vessels, in response to cold air that approximately five percent of the U.S. population suffers from, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

A vasospasm causes blood flow to reduce to the fingers and toes, and occasionally to areas like the nose, ears and lips. During an attack, little or no blood flows to affected body parts according to the NHLBI.

“When I’m having an attack, my fingers, and sometimes toes, will start to feel numb and lose color,” Esme Artz, Raynaud’s sufferer, said. “They’ll turn white and/or gray and either feel tingly or totally numb.”

This is part of a three-phase reaction in which the affected body parts turn white, blue, and then red when blood starts to flow back to the area according to the University of California (UC) Davis Vascular Center.

If an attack like this occurs, it is important to take immediate action to warm your body’s core temperature so blood flow can regulate again.

“When the symptoms wear off, my fingers, hands and toes usually turn red and burn until circulation has regulated,” Artz said.

Although many people are born with or develop Raynaud’s for unknown reasons, there are some activities that can directly cause it. They include: repetitive actions that damage nerves, like using vibrating tools such as jackhammers, injuries to the hands and feet and diseases that directly damage the arteries or nerves in the hands and feet, according to the NHLBI.

The best way for people with Raynaud’s to avoid attacks is to protect themselves from cold. The NHLBI recommends wearing mittens, hats and scarves in addition to layering clothing.

An elderly woman wrapped in a scarf and wearing mittens waits for a bus during snowfall in Bucharest, Romania, Tuesday, March 26, 2013. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

2. “Christmas Coronary”

According to a study in the International Journal of Cardiology (Int J Cardiol) about variation in cardiovascular events, winter months lead to more deaths by acute myocardial infarction (AMI), or heart attack and stroke.

A study conducted by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) revealed that AMI increased by 7 percent for each 10 degrees Celsius.

There are multiple reasons for this seasonal pattern of increased Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and AMI mortality in winter. According to the study by the Int J Cardiol, cold exposure leads to a loss of body heat, increase of metabolic rate and narrowing of  the blood vessels which can all contribute to increased cardiovascular problems.

Changes in lifestyle during the winter months is another possible cause for this pattern. People tend to exercise less and eat more during the winter, especially around the holidays. The reduction of these healthy lifestyle choices during the winter can help feed into the “Christmas Coronary” phenomenon.

Another possible cause is the unaccustomed exertion that comes with winter as people who don’t usually exercise are forced to shovel their driveways and property.

According to the OJM, coronary deaths in men under 65 years old increased by 85 percent in Toronto due to the unaccustomed exercise of shoveling snow.

Ken Cunningham shovels his sidewalk during a snowstorm in Seattle, Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

RELATED: Three Ways Your Body Battles the Cold Accuweather United States Weather Radar Does Rainy Fall Weather Really Affect Your Brain, Mood?

3. Trench Foot

Trench foot occurs when people have wet and cold feet for many hours or days, according to Jan Chappel, senior technical specialist at the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS).

“It got its name obviously from soldiers in World War I when they were stuck in the trenches and their feet would be wet all the time,” Chappel said.

The common symptoms of trench foot are reddening of the skin, numbness, tingling pain and swelling, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

“You can even get gangrene because your circulation is damaged,” Chappel said.

The root cause of this injury is that wet feet lose heat 25 times faster than dry feet, according to the NIOSH.

In response to the lack of heat, the body constricts blood vessels in order to stop circulation to the feet. This causes the skin tissue to die due to lack of oxygen and nutrients, and build up of toxic products, according to NIOSH.

Making sure your feet stay warm and dry so they don’t lose this excess heat is the best way to avoid developing trench foot.

4. Chilblains/Pernio

Chilblains are the painful inflammation of small blood vessels in your skin that occur in response to sudden warming after cold exposure, according to the Mayo Clinic.

According to the CCOHS, symptoms include redness, swelling, tingling and pain. This damage is permanent, and the redness and itching will return with additional exposure, according to the NIOSH.

Although these symptoms may sound similar to frost bite, there are key differences between the two conditions.

“Chilblains is more small blood vessels, and frost bite is more the skin and body tissues,” Chappel said.

It doesn’t need to be freezing outside for risk of these injuries. Chilblains can occur at temperatures as high as 60 degrees F, according to the NIOSH, so staying warm and wearing the right clothing at all temperatures is important.

5. Seasonal Affective Disorder

People may experience seasonal depression, or seasonality, as the shorter and colder days of winter approach.

“At the extreme along the continuum of seasonality is full-blown winter seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a syndrome involving recurrent depressive episodes during the fall and winter months with periods of remission in the spring and summer,” Kelly Rohan, Ph.D., professor of Psychology at the University of Vermont, said.

The most commonly reported symptoms of SAD include significant fatigue, loss of interest in activities, sleeping more than usual, craving and eating more starches and sweets and gaining at least 5 percent of body weight according to the American Psychological Association (APA).

The cause of these depressionlike symptoms is a shorter photoperiod and decreased exposure to sunlight during the winter months. This shifting absorption of sun leads to higher melatonin levels which can make you feel more fatigued and depressed.

This Accuweather image explains why people may feel depressed during winter.

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment available for SAD, but there are multiple methods that have proven to be effective.

The most widely and extensively investigated treatment for SAD is light therapy, i.e., daily exposure to bright artificial light during the symptomatic months, according to the APA. – AccuWeather