My SHTF First Aid Kit: When small cuts become a threat

SHTF first aid kit


I am Selco and I am from the Balkan region, and as some of you may know it was hell here from 92-95, anyway, for 1 whole year I lived and survived in a city WITHOUT: electricity, fuel, running water, food distribution, without any kind of organized law or government. The city was surrounded for 1 year and it actually was a real SHTF situation. Our allies were our enemies from one day to the next. Today I’m prepared and share my experience on this blog.

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When small cuts become a threat

I was invited to check guy who was badly beaten by few guys, man who invited me offered me to introduce me to some man who had connection with smugglers, so i can get stuff cheap if i help this guy.

When i entered house, guy was laying on bed, could not move too much, lot of bruises everywhere on body, he was conscious, in pains, pretty much drunk. On first look he did not have some serious open injuries, my biggest concern was that i was pretty sure that he had few broken ribs, strong pain while deep breathing, and while moving his body, and clear mark of boot on his chest, obviously someone was jumping on him.

I could not do too much with broken rib, actually i only wrapped him with some layers of clothes, to improvise some kind of belt, and hope that broken rib did not induce some more serious injury to lungs, or something else.

He was coughing and spitting blood, but again i was hoping that comes from broken teeth, not from stomach or lungs. Minor cuts and bruises we just rinsed with rakia, and that s it. Nothing more we could do.

And guess, what? Few days later, i was called again, and everything was fine, except nothing was fine. One of the pretty much small cuts on his hand got infected, it was small cut, in normal times would not required sewing or stitching, maybe butterfly closure. But it turned bad.

I’ve spent days and days cleaning and removing dead tissue from that wound, trying to do something, some of his friends manage after some time to get some antibiotics, child dosage in suspension with expired date of use.

I used scalpel, not medical, it was scalpel for some wood work, i removed tissue with that, his family used mixture of honey and some pine stuff for wound, i used rakia and peace of old rubber glove to keep it open.

Anyway he survived, he did not lose his hand, but he lost function of three fingers. It was pure luck that he did not lose his life. And funny thing, not the broken ribs killed him but small cut almost killed him.

Probably nothing would happen if i had Iodine and enough sterile gauze, not to mention stuff like topical antibiotic, or Ciprobay tabs or any of this.

Now of course I’m prepared and have everything, for topical, oral, intravenous use.

Later he told me that guy wanted to hit him in the head with some agricultural tool for digging, he missed his head, he just scratch his hand with that.


Anyway, point is, to buy today full set for treating wounds, does not cost too much, sterile gloves, compress, forceps, butterfly closures, antibiotic treatment, povidone, hydrogen peroxide, anti tetanus shots, sutures… everything, it can be found for maybe 100$ here.

Is it worth 100$? Yes, it can worth 1000$ or 10000$ it can be priceless actually. When it comes to you or your family member it is priceless, if you helping someone else, you can say a price.

I learned medical profession before SHTF and work now for over 20 years in medical field, mostly emergency room and see people stabbed and shot every week. Often I’m person who has to get them ready for transport when they still lay in their blood. Here are two simple things you can do now to help your chances of survival.

Just learn basic procedure for treating wounds and make sure people around you know it too. You might be unconscious when you need treatment and loved ones should know how. Too often people treat things and make things worse not better.

Most wounds that you are going to care are gonna be small cuts, lacerations. I am not saying that you are not going to be in situation to treat gunshot wound, or open fracture on leg for example, i am using laceration as a example to show some basic rules, everything else takes much more to say, and needs to be addressed as separate and big subject.

  • 1. Use protection if you treat wounded man, gloves, mask, face shield, gown… whatever you have if possible.
  • 2. Stop any massive bleeding (if it present) by direct pressure on wound, elevation (extremity) or pressure points.
  • 3. Remove dirt from wound by irrigation, i prefer hydrogen peroxide and sterile water, use sterile swab or sterile forceps for that.
  • 4. Use iodine on sterile compresses, and dress the wound with bandages.
  • 5. Start with antibiotic treatment (Xiclav or similar antibiotic
  • 6. Inspect wound every day, clean it, then use Iodine and compresses and bandaging.

Now remember, this all matters for you if YOU are only person with some medical knowledge and some medical supplies, if there is no doctor, no hospital, in other words if SHTF for real. If there is a higher medical authority than you available, look for it.

These are some general rules, exceptions are many, stab wound you can not flush in some cases, you can kill man in few seconds if you instantly remove knife from his leg (example), is he allergic on antibiotics? What if wound become infected after few days? Antibiotic ointments oral antibiotics or IV antibiotics?… Much more to say about this. Anyway, the standard procedure will get you out of biggest trouble in most cases.


Now here is my basic first aid EDC (every day carry). I have in bag with my gun. I have that bag usually with me or in car.

Military First Aid Bandage / Field Dressing, 6-pack, Camouflage, 4″x7″ with Gauze Ties
Military bandage is used to quickly plug hole in sterile way. It is first thing that you gonna put on any bigger wound, it is made from something like gauze pad and bandage all in one, point is if you do not have time to take too much time on the place, just use military bandage to cover wound, stop bleeding, and bandage it, all in one, and it is packeged sterile. This is often first thing used just after someone is shot or stabbed.

C-A-T Combat Application Tourniquet – Black by North American Rescue Brand
To stop massive blood loss.

Sterile Latex Exam Gloves, Individual Peel-Open Package, Medium, Box of 50 Pairs
There are also sets with mask and gloves in one sterile package. I use that.

Prestige Medical Fluoride Scissor, Black, 7 1/2 Inch
EMT scissors, it is very heavy duty scissors, for quick removing clothes from patient, i often use it on my job for cutting seat belt. Quickly, sharp and with guard so you can not cut or stab patient and good ones can even cut wire.

Povidone Scrub Solution, 16 Oz
Kills bacteria.

KENDALL VERSALONTM All-purpose Sterile Sponge, 4 Ply, 4″ X 4″, 2/pk – Pack 25
3M Medipore H Soft Cloth Surgical Tape – 2″ wide –
3M Steri Strip Skin Closures 1/4” X 3” – 10 Packages of 3
Kerlix Type Gauze Rolls 4″X4 yds, Sterile, 10/bag
If I have more time to treat wound or follow up treatment.

I have a bit different things but as most of you are from US or other country with Internet shops I looked products similar to mine up. As you see it is not much but it can make a big difference. Difference between life and death.

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101 Responses

  1. Women’s sanitary napkins can be useful in a bleeding emergency as they are designed to be very absorbent. Some brands come in little individual packages so they’d be clean although not sterile.

    1. I would try to avoid direct contact between the non-sterile pad and the wound, maybe put a sterile abd pad (or two) or some sterile gauze pads between the wound and the napkin, but it could be a good backup for deep/heavily bleeding wounds. Could help you save your sterile supplies, if you should be running low.

  2. Note that clove oil is a very good topical anesthetic and antibiotic. Stings like 4377, but works well. the advantage of this over the common tooth anesthetics is its longevity.

  3. Thanks for the great information! I’m currently building my own med stash. I have a wide range of antibiotics, cold/flu medicine, anti-diarrhea, heartburn meds, pain meds, cough suppressant and the like.

    I have a lot of bandages and emergency medical supplies, but it’s so hard to know exactly what you MAY need. You MAY need EVERYTHING. So, I’m trying to look for the “common” problems…I also got some plaster bandages, since I figured broken bones might be common and properly setting and securing them would be important. I have a defibrillator I bought for my business which will come home with me if it ever comes to that. I’m currently considering some kind of oxygen kit and/or respirator, but I’m not sure if the money would be better spent elsewhere or not.

    1. I’m an ICU nurse, and a prepper. I’d recommend purchasing larger amounts of BASIC supplies (bangages, antiseptics, OTC meds, electrolye powder for oral rehydration, ect) rather than spending money on oxygen tanks or other “high level” medical devices/equipment.

      A trained healthcare provider may be able to use such things to assist a seriously ill/injured person, but without high-tech hospital care the patient is unlikley to survive long-term.

      Focus on what can be done at home, with basic supplies, rather than relying on devices that depend on the availability of the modern medical system.

      In a SHTF situation the healthcare system (whatever was left of it) would be severely overtaxed and almost certainly unable to provide normal levels of care…a hospital needs power, water, personnel, supplies, food, working labs, and a thousand other things to function. One missing element and it falls apart. Hospitals during Hurricaine Katrina quickly became pretty much non-functional, despite the heroic efforts of hospital staff, and I suspect that the same would be true of a SHTF situation.

      I think that money would be better spent obtaining larger quantities of basic supplies…items that have the greatest chance of making the most difference for the greatest number of ill/injured people. I think that many preppers severely underestimate the quantity of medical supplies they might need. To treat even a single would you would need one to two dressing changes per day, possibly for weeks on end.

      Oral electrolytes (like Gatorade) may not be as “sexy” as a combat surgical kit, but it would probably save more lives (waterbourne illnesses being common and deadly when santiation breaks down)

      1. Thanks for your helpful comments JS!

        I’m building my kits and supplies now and you’ve reminded me to get moving on several things and the volume of others that I really need.

        1. No problem….there’s nothing WRONG with getting O2 and other “high level” supplies/equipment (especially if you have a particular reason to purchase it…such as an asthmatic child in the family, or someone dependent on O2). It’s just that I think those purchases should probably occur after you has “maxed out” on large amounts of basic supplies. And, of course you need someone with the skills to go along with the “toys”.

      2. Good information, and I think absolutely, generally true. The only reason I would even consider such a purchase is due to the fact that my brother-in-law (who would be a member of our “group”, I guess you could call it) is an emergency room trauma surgeon.

        O2 is pretty far down on the list, I’d say, but something I’m thinking about picking up…I’m actually pretty amazed at how often it’s used, even for non-life threatening injuries. But this will of course be only after I’ve built up my stockpile of “common” items like you recommend to absurd levels.

      3. Hello
        It all comes to level of knowledge and amount of medical supplies that prepper want (can) have.

        Best advice is to have everithyng that you are capable to do, for example if someone knows to deal with IV lines, IV antibiotics, and advanced wound care, it is good to have items for that in storage.
        We are talking about possible scenario, where there is no doctor, no hospital, no eletrical power. SHTF.

        Different medical storage is for doctor, nurse, and for a man who knows basic first aid.
        Obviusly for most of the people, best advice is like you said to have larger amounts of basic supplies.
        But one very important thing is that when SHTF, nobody care who have certificates and degrees of nurse, doctor, EMT or whatever, knowledge is important, you just gonna practice what you know, and with what you have on the best possible way that you can.
        I am not advocating something like illegal medical care from the people that are not certificated for medical care, it is against the law.
        But remember, when SHTF there is no law, you just gonna use your skills, whatever they are.
        I saw colonels who were salesman in normal time, or herbal healers who were housewifes before, or very powerful people who were nobody prior collapse.
        And yes i completely agree with point of oral electrolytes and combat surgical kit.

    2. @DarkestPhoenix

      Yes, you may need everything, so giving advice is actually depend of few things: amount of money, level of knowledge, and some common sense.
      So if you have enough money, i mean really big amount of money, have everything why not? even if you do not know to use it, it is gonna be valuable.
      But as most of the people can not afford to buy everything,and most of the people are not medical proffesionals, some basic rules are: have lot of common things to treat condition like wounds, shock, bad food, bad water and poor hygiene induced conditions. For a start. Together with some conditions that can show up depends of your group people condition.
      So if your wife-husband have known high blood pressure problems, think now what to learn. Is it possible to learn to use IV Furosemide injection or something else, or if your kid have often problems with pneumonia, throat conditions… maybe to invest in O2 cylinders and inhaler, and some stash of Bisolvon, Ventolin, Dexason or similar.
      These are examples only, look first inside your family start from that point.

  4. Interesting stuff. Regarding that hand laceration, the honey was a good idea. If you had sugar, can try that too. For cleaning out, if you don’t have water – clean, non-cloudy, relatively fresh urine will work, if there’s no other option. It’s pretty obvious that the ag implement he was attacked with was loaded with critters, and lucky he didn’t catch it in the head. Fingers you can afford to lose, but losing the head makes it hard. For antibiotics, possibly herbal, pet meds, etc.

    But it’s best to have the right supplies on hand from the beginning.

  5. I know in hard times you will not be able to find sugar, but sugar can help heal wound because bacteria cannot grow with sugar. I have a lot of the same things and more but where can you stock up on antibiotics?

  6. “stab wound you can not flush in some cases, you can kill man in few seconds if you instantly remove knife from his leg”

    What is the proper way to treat a knife wound? Is there a special way of removing a knife still embed in a person? Enjoying your writings very much, extremely informative. Thanks.

    1. With a knife wound it all depends on the location of the wound and the underlying organs, the length of the blade etc.
      6″ blade in the left side of chest and you could hit lung, heart main blood vessels etc. 3″ blade in the bum and it is only muscle that is damaged and may just need de-brideing and sewing. If the blade is still in place put a ring bandage around it and treat like it is a FB wound. try to get them to a surgeon for them to remove it. If the blade falls out or is pulled out by the casualty then basic first aid is all you can do until they get to place of higher care. So apply direct or indirect pressure to arrest bleeding and dress the wound and evac patient to place of higher care. That is really all you can do as a first aider.

      Hope that helps.

  7. Knife wounds; no problem, just put sugar or clove oil on it. Call the witch doctor in the morning !

    You are going to kill someone with this kind of advice (putting clove oil on a wound). Get serious. If you don’t understand the difference between superstition and science based health care then you should leave the person alone and call 911.

    1. Granted, it would be far better to stock up on Neosporin Plus (w/lidocaine), but this scenario IS for WSHTF, in which case these items would beat f***-all out of getting a fatal infection.

    2. Call 911? WTF? Hear that Selco? Wow! We missed it altogether! We should have just called 911!! That settles it. Just remember – when the cops are no where to be found, the hospitals are empty, burned out rat-infested hovels….just call 911. Too easy. Awesome advice.

    3. Call 911 in a grid-down or SHTF situation? You are the one believing in superstition. Get real yourself and think before you write. All modern medicines were developed from natural medicines. If you are hurt in SHTF and don’t want naturopathic treatment, fine, just tell us where to bury you.

      1. In the 1970s we were too damn poor to get medical care for things that send people running to the doctor these days. We had all kinds of folk remedies, many of which were *worse* than nothing.

        this is why learning modern scientific medicine is the way to go! And some herbal etc remedies for when you have nothing.

        Washing out with sterile saline, hydrogen peroxide (not TOO strong!, dilute it!), there is something called “wound pasteurization” which is worth looking into etc.

        Generally just keeping stuff clean, changing the bandage, take some seawater and boil it, now you have a very good sterile saline rinse, take *care* of things rather than wrap’n’forget, just common sense.

        We may see the old medicines come back like mercurochrome and tincture of green soap. Good stuff.

  8. Has anyone been able to locate mask & glove sets as mentioned in the post? I suppose you could just get the peel-open packs of gloves and procedure masks and vacuum-seal your own sets.

    1. If you can’t get sterile, individually packed gloves, they’re available at auto supply shops and at box-store home improvement centers. Use rubbing alcohol to do the best you can to sterilize. Whiskey or moonshine work well but the moonshine will eat the gloves if too aggressive.

      Harbor Freight – for whatever reason- has implements that are used in surgical procedures. I’d be able to put together a minor surgery kit in their store. An X-acto kit is handy. Magnifiers help with splinters as do slant-edge tweezers.

      Look at the photos of the Spanish flu epidemic of 1916-18. The masks everyone wore in public were homemade; they were made from bedsheets.

      A well-stocked toolbox is handy; I always keep one in every ER I’ve worked in. Pliers, cutters can often give the leverage surgical tools can’t (think removing large impaled foreign bodies or rings that are stuck).

      Duct tape!!!!!!!!!! Not only does it hold on fenders and bumpers, it provides awesome first response to large cuts. It will hold a splint (which may be the only immobilization a break may get) stable.


  9. I don’t have medical background so I don’t know which of the previous advices are good and which are bad. If I have no way of getting immediate or even a later professional help, then I need to know what to do – and especially what not to do. I know sugar in a wound is suggested by medical professionals because when my sister had breast cancer and the wound wouldn’t heal, they treated it with sugar.

    1. MARI – yes, sugar and honey have both been used as last-ditch wound treatments; if you scan the web, esp. amazon, you will find several books with some good info, easily read and small enough to tuck into your EDC or med bag.

      start with this link:,stripbooks,209

      NOTE that many titles will also be available from Amazon dealers in ‘used’ condition for a fraction of the ‘new’ cost

      also see:
      when there is no doctor preventive and emergency healthcare in uncertain times

      Finally, remember what the late great survival writer Hood once said – if you are lost in the woods and your only first aid kit is a box of band-aids and a tube of neosporin, you’re a lot better off than the guy who has neither. So if you can’ afford to buy everything you want, just prioritize, esp. based on where you live & travel, to determine what you may require. Good luck.

    2. Include in your medical kit a field medical manual such as “Ditch Medicine.”
      Go take a first aid course.
      If possible, contact your local PD or EMS for a ride-along to get a dose of reality; see if you are up to it and then adjust accordingly.
      Trust me, standing by helplessly for fear of doing the wrong thing will haunt you.
      Be proactive NOW!!

      1. To anyone out there who wants to learn more about emergency medical care, I would recommend they start by taking a First Aid course and a CPR course. The money is very well spent, and will be beneficial even if a SHTF situation never occurs.

        1. Ok, I’m certified in first aid and CPR (both adult and infant/child). What would you recommend next? Wilderness first aid? EMT basic? Something else?

          1. @acorn
            Go up with knowledge in any area you can when it comes to medical part, you do not have to think in terms of “EMT, nurse, paramedic, physician” etc. not necessary. It is of course easier to go with accepted courses and everything, but think also what you could need and have in your family, group, or yourself. I mean if you have kid with you, go with kid possible conditions and solutions and meds and equipment, from fever to broken bone, laryngitis or whatever. If you have person with high blood pressure problems, or that person gonna be with you when SHTF learn everything you can about that.
            But to give you some suggestion, now go with trauma. You have good start and now you just go with trauma, from basic levels to more advanced.

    3. When I was a child, I cup my hand on something (can’t remember what) and my hand was bleeding profusely. My grandmother cleaned the wound then put sugar on it and wrapped it. The bleeding stopped quickly and I don’t even have a scar now. Yes, the sugar works wonders!

  10. Selco, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your knowledge and experience. Your comment about learning basic procedure is so important. For the rest of us, now, while there is time, take a basic first aid course. Then take a higher level course if you want to learn more, then higher still.

    As for me, I find that I have returned to the importance of really strong basics. If you can’t stop bleeding or if the person can’t breathe, you will not make it to the next level.

    Thanks, again, Selco.

  11. Great info as usual Selco! Thank you! I agree that the people in your group should also know how to care for you. I think it is called cross-training. Having a monopoly on knowelege might seem like a good idea until you are the one who is hurt.

    Did your family cross-train?

    GoneWithTheWind, because you so obviously missed the entire premise of this blog, you will definitely be one of the first casualties when TSHTF, UNLESS you start learning to pay attention. In a SHTF scenario 911 doesn’t work (hence, SHTF) And 911 doesn’t work in the Balkans. All that “science based” health care is killing many everyday now. I suggest you read Selco’s whole blog to understand the advice he is giving. He has lived during the total breakdown of his society and provided 1st Aid and medical assistance, can you say the same? If you could, you would be writing your own blog.

    Hehe I wonder how many people that are today called witches and witch doctors, will be saving the lives of their critics and antagonists when TSHTF

    1. @luckee1
      Of course, there is no sense of hiding knowledge from people in your group. Best idea is that everybody inside your group-family have some knovledge about first aid.
      It is same with everything else, if you have inside group one military veteran who is wery well covered with firearms, tactics and everything else, that does not mean that your group knowledge is covered when it comes to shooting. Everybody needs to know to use gun, at least basics.

  12. Good point! My Great Grandfather went out to cut firewood got a splinter in his right thumb, ignored it and went on with chores around the barn, within five days he was dead, after his arm had been amputated in an effort to save him.

  13. RE: (Relatively) cheap non-prescription source of antibiotics. Learned this from my dad, who was a farmer/school teacher for many years, and I have used same for approximately the last 35 years with no ill effect. Intermountain Farm Stores, Farmers’ Coop stores, Veterinary Supply stores, Pet Med websites, PetSmart, etc., all carry oral tetracycline, amoxicillin, etc. Works on people too–just tastes pretty awful! Sterile Opthalmic antibiotic gel also (clears up pink-eye, without unaffordable visit to doctor). Suggest nitrile gloves instead of latex–twice as expensive, but much more durable, and much less allergenic. Daughter who is licensed massage therapist has successfully used colloidal silver on several occasions with her children for pink-eye as well (as have many others with whom I am acquainted). It is possible to make your own, assuming you can find a few silver coins–instructions are available–I have seen them, don’t remember where.

    1. Great info Selco, In re-reading these posts, I find new info every day. Last spring, I was working in the garden, and felt a sting on my ankle. I thought it was a mosquito at first. and ignored it. By next morning it was a bright red patch, about 1″, and felt hard and feverish. The swelling was spreading up my leg. I went into the emergency room, and they shrugged it off, and said if it gets worse, come back in. I went home and made a poltice of aloe, and taped it on, and by the next day it was drying and healing. It took over a week of continued applications, but it healed completely. Oh, btw, “home Depot” is selling “20- packs” of nitrile surgical type gloves for $1.88 (probably not sterile, but douse with alcohol)

  14. You can get the US Army first aid manual online and is a free download. It’s a good place to start and even has little tests you can do to see if you rember how to treat for shock…….

  15. A while back I saw a big bottle of Betadine ( poviodine) on the shelf of my pharmacist… who is attached to a medical practice. When I asked how much.. it was very cheap.. so I bought two (stocking up). I found that it was a commercial bottle that was only supposed to be sold to Drs for surgery. Anyway.. was very pleased to get it.. and I advise people to ask.. and they may be able to buy wholesale quantities too.
    Look into colloidal silver.. it is something you can make.. and has many medical uses.

    In any situation where hygene is limited, you have to be especially careful with small cuts, insect bites etc. I have lived in the tropics, primitive conditions, and flies would seek out open wounds etc. I used to treat every small cut with antiseptic every night.. like a ritual. If I did not.. they would become infected.. and take weeks to heal.

    1. A caution about the use of colloidal silver…it can be helpful used externally (on the skin or in wounds), but don’t drink the stuff. The human body can’t excrete silver…taken internally, silver slowly builds up as a toxin in the skin, brain, and organs. There is no treatment. (Google “agryria” for more info).

      I took care of a patient a few years ago who had developed agryria due to drinking colloidal silver. His skin was permanently stained a silver color (really spooky to look at), and he had developed permanent kidney and neurological problems.

      Lead and bleach are both antimicrobial, after all, but you probably wouldn’t down a glass of either one…

        1. I made up a dandy batch of it for a couple of friends to try for their sore throats, it didn’t seem to do much. Gargling with salt water, and sucking in li hing moi (Chinese salty dried mummified plums) helps, and I like to drink fizzy drinks when I have a sore throat. Can’t count on getting these things in the end times.

        2. I absolutely respect anyone’s decision to do to their body what they will. I just hope that people out there take the time to carefully research both the potential positive AND negatives of any medicinal substance they consider using (and that includes prescription medications).

          Research shows that silver is safe and effective when applied externally to the skin/wounds(assuming you aren’t allergic to silver). However, taking colloidal silver internally (especially over long periods of time) may have lasting, harmful health effects. In additon, there is no evidence that taking colloidal silver internally is effective in fighting systemic infection

          Best of luck to anyone who choses to use it…but, personally, I”m going to stay away from the stuff.

  16. Very good article and very much needed. I use / carry many of these, also I have small packets of Celox to create instant clotting in large open wounds and help stop bleeding until time allows full treatment. One more item that is love – a package of the clear-blue plastic ’emesis’ or ‘vomit bags’, with a thin plastic rim. The bag rolls up flat, and it is a multi use item, not only excellent for vomiting but in a pinch can be used for urine or defecation, or to carry clean water. It would even be OK to keep in a sniper position since always a sniper who remains in place for full day or two has to have leakproof containers for body wastes. Ziploc bags are OK, but these store flatter and can be sealed perfectly with a foldover on top and a strip of tape.

  17. Your post was proof that sometimes it is the smallest and most unexpected things that can get you. Many thanks for a very informative post, it is always appreciated!

  18. ONE MORE thought, if I may: Having spend years working with diabetics, let me caution the reader: your FEET are often your most ignored, and must vulnerable, link. In any bad circumstances – keep the sturdiest sole shoe you have, close by, also clean or air out socks when you can, and inspect your feet and between toes EVERY morning and night… if any cracks, cuts, splinters, whatever, then fix it NOW. Your shoe is the best breeding ground for bacteria, dark, warm and damp, and if you get a bad enough infection or have poor circulation, you can lose a foot / leg / or your life. If you are in a house or building that is burning, get your strongest shoes FIRST as you leave, even if you have to evacuate naked. Because when you are later going through the ruins looking for things, or scavenging, or whatever, your feet will have to carry you over broken glass, jagged pipe, wire, sharp wood and splinters, etc. Love your feet and protect them for it is they who must carry you to safety!
    Keep extra socks in your emergency bag, too

    1. I work with street dependent youth (“homeless kids”), who probably live closer to a SHTF lifestyle everyday than anyone else in peace-time industrialized nations. Foot problems are rampant, debilitating, and possibly deadly. You spend much of your time on your feet ,in all weathers, without adequate sanitation (few-no chances to wash yourself or your socks), and usually no chance to dry out your one set of footgear. Add poor nutrition and little ability to regulate the temperature of your surroundings and your tootsies take a beating. Based on experience, I’m stocking extra wool and other moisture wicking socks, foot powder (fine corn starch works just as well,) sturdy shoes as suggested but multiple pairs as they wear out surprisingly quickly when you wear the same pair in all conditions all the time, corn pads, hot spot foot tape/moleskin type products (try these out now, as some types/brands can cause, ironically, blisters and skin irritation for some people,) and ANTI-FUNGAL CREAM!!!!!!!! learn to examine your feet so you can spot a fungus early, these can go down many layers or even form pockets of fungus below healthy flesh. Washing your feet with your own (as someone noted fresh and non-cloudy) urine also keeps fungal issues down. I recommend peeing in any public shower you use. It’s sterile unless the urine picks up something from the external flesh around your uretha’s opening. Pee has actually been a southern American home remedy for acne for ages.

      Also learn proper nail/nailbed care, treatment for ingrown nails (focus on early recognition and prevention) and foot massage to keep your circulation up, especially in cold weather.

      1. @Lefty Prepper

        Good points

        Hygiene is something like first line of defense, if you fail on that spot everything else gonna be slow dying. Everything counts, wet socks in bad boots together with poor hygiene in normal times gonna gives you problem. But when SHTF that can give you some big problems.

        I do not know how many of you had chance to walk for a days in same dirty socks, wet, because you did not have good boots, or time to change socks, or just because you had some bigger problems to worry about. That can cripple you.

        To keep yourself clean, your living area, to watch what things you are touching, what you are eating and how. All that gets new dimension. Because when you get sick, or when you get some nasty wound on your feet, because you did not pay attention on blisters, only person that gonna take some medical care of that is gonna be you probably.

  19. I had a small wound from a watch that was irritating my skin. Despite soaking in warm water several times a day for several days, I began seeing it throb and spread underneath my skin rapidly. The problem was not as obvious on the surface but seemed to be happening at a deeper level. I was worried it was a flesh eating bacteria. I knew if I went to urgent care too soon, it would not look bad enough and not get enough attention, but if I went too late, it would cost my life. I tried a do-it-yourself maneuver just before I went to urgent care. I poured vodka on it and could feel it start working right away. Did this every hour for several days. Wound healed within a few days without needing medical care !

    1. I had some damn dealie on the side of my face, side of my eye where the bone of the orbit is near the skin, hard place. I think it was from a spider bite since there are a lot of spiders around here (I like ’em except when they bite me actually, spiders are cool) and I really worried I might have some kind of a flesh-eating bacteria thing going on. It was smaller than a dime but it has me worried.

      So I aggressively scrubbed it with isopropyl alcohol, and when it scabbed over I’d squeeze it to see if something is going on under the scab, if there was pus, I’d peel the scab off and more isopropyl scrubbing. It got better.

      Isopropyl alcohol is great for cleaning up little things like this, and any kind of little cut, nick, puncture, you know, the little stuff you get all the time, so far never develops into something big for me because I squeeze the pus out. This makes room for new lymph to move in with more germ-fighting cells. Even if you don’t have alcohol etc. to clean things up – I didn’t as a kid – get used to going over your little nicks and cuts and squeezing the pus out a couple of times a day until they are dry and healing, it will avoid a lot of trouble.

      This is why I intend to become skilled at brewing up a good moonshine. Not only is it good to drink, but isopropyl alcohol off of the shelf is not going to be available. Commercial booze in the US is 40%, fine for drinking, but for sterilizing, commercial isopropyl is 140 proof! 70%!

      1. Brew up sugar water with yeast, set up a simple cheap still (there are plans online) and distill tand re-distill about 3 or 4 times. After about 3 or 4 times you should have about 95% alcohol. Keep it in a very cool place. The flash point of alcohol is pretty low. Keep it away from flame. An electric still is safer than a flame one. A slow still is safer than a fast one. A small one safer than a large one. Never leave your still unattended. From 5 gallons of brew you will get half a gallon of moonshine.

        Never advertise your still or the Damn Revenooers will come and tear your still house down.

          1. Tand thank you!

            I’ve read up on the various sites, yep, basically if you can make Pruno, “Swipe” whatever you call it, “sugar wine”, etc then learn to make and operate a still, that’s about it.

            Different fractions come across at different temps, “heads” will have any methanol you made, since it’s light, “tails” will have your “fusil oils” that’s the stuff that makes some cheap vodka, “tongue-burning vodka” lol.

            And yes, electric stills are the way to go while learning, while there’s still an electrical grid.

            You can buy stills all day long in the US! They’re all over. It’s actually illegal to use ’em, it’s illegal to make limoncello or sangria, it’s illegal for me to put lime peel in cheap vodka, I think. It’s illegal to sell or buy alcohol on Sunday in many parts of the us. It’s illegal to drink alcohol when you’re already old enough to join the Army and plink at Iraqis. But you can buy small, fairly safe, stills with full sets of instructions and warrantees lol.

            In USA, vodka drinks YOU!

  20. The biggest SHTF help as far as medical supplies go will be soap, hand sanitizer and gloves. In a SHTF situation I can see sanitation going to crap, and hand washing will probably be nonexistent. I have a butt ton of this stuff stocked up precisely for this reason. Add a couple thousand tubes of TAO and bandages and you’re pretty well covered.

    1. Yes, surfectants, things that break up the oily, grimy, greasy defenses of bad germs on your skin, are much needed things.

      Ivory Soap is kinda gross and I can’t believe it still sells, but Zest, Dial, any of that stuff is good to stockpile.

      1. If it totally goes to shit, you can take lye you leach from ashes, and fat from some meat, or any vegetable oil, and render it, and then put them together and get soap. There are a lot of online directions how to make soap. If you use the lye from ashes, your soap probably will only be like a gel and you will have to keep it in a little pot. It is not the same as the lye in little plastic jars.

        Don’t use Red Devil lye, they added some crap to it so it’s not pure lye any more. Don’t use anything called “drain opener” unless it says PURE LYE on it.

        There is also a plant called soapwort that is good to use as-is like soap. But it’s hard to find. You rub it between your hands and crush it, and it makes soapy suds.

        I cooked a raccoon this past fall, and that thing had a ton of fat on its back. They call it the Stink Fat. I carved it off the carcass, and rendered it by frying it slow and pouring off the grease. So I have a little can with a lid labeled “Coon Grease” in my fridge and it’s what it says it is. It stayed liquid even in the fridge. I think it would probably make a liquid soap. Lard, cow fat, and coconut oil all make hard soap. Chicken grease makes a soft soap. Olive oil makes a hard soap for some reason, as does shortening.

        If you make soap, you can then soak (possibly slow-cook) some of it in ethanol (watch your flash point!) and get glycerine from it. It separates into a clear and an opaque layer. You can use that clear layer to make clear soap, or in moisturizers. I haven’t tried that yet.

  21. God bless you Selco. You may never know what a difference you have made. But I believe by sharing your information many more will be better prepared. I am having difficulty finding conscious sedation meds that may be helpful with a tooth extraction, getting stitches, etc. I feel more comfortable giving that kind of sedation than an IV. I have looked for IV needles and solutions at the local vet store but was unsuccessful. I also would like to have an epi pen on hand or something similar for allergic reactions but have had no luck there either. I have tried overseas pharmacies and internet vet suppliers with no luck. Suggestions? Thank you again Selco.

  22. J makes a very good point about shoes and boots. I have my hiking boots (I’m not into hiking, those are my SHTF foot wear, very comfy) where I can get to them easily. The laces are tied together so that I can just grab and go and get both boots at once. The socks are stuffed either into the boots or lacing, both liner and sock (polypropylene/silk and smart wool).

    I live in a wildfire prone area and quick exit strategies are a must. 72 hour Bug Out Bag is also where I can grab it handily.

    For those of you that have not yet read it, I would suggest looking into William Forstchen’s, One Second After for some insight as what can happen in a SHTF scenario. Nothing however can top Selco’s first hand accounts.

    Great info on everything and EDC / FAK. There was at least one thing that I overlooked.



  23. Thanks Selco, first aid is the basic key to stay alive WSHTF, altough I am a paramedic, I try to stay informed on alternative ”ditch medecine” cause supplies are gonna be unavailable, eventually….

    This site is awesome, thanks for everything you do for us….

  24. I too would like info on where to get antibiotics for stockpile – my Doc refused any help with such a thing despite my promise to never take them without his permission.

    I know one can buy veterinary supplies – but which ones, where, to be used for what?

    All that said, someone mentioned using women’s “sanitary pads” for dressings – I’d reiterate this. Yes – “sterile” is better, but in the REAL world “sanitary” is likely as good as you’re going to get.

    Womens tampons can also be used for puncture wounds – as has been discussed elsewhere, men have survived fatal bullet-wounds by sticking their fingers in the holes to stop bleeding – a tampon could do as well until real medical care could be had… Sure – in a SHTF situation you may die later of infection, but then you MAY live as well! Do nothing because you don’t have the needed Doc on hand and you WILL die!

    Me, I’ll take “MIGHT live” over “WILL die” ANYTIME!

    1. Just a quick reply, I was in a local “Home Depot” store yesterday, and they had a special on packs of 20 nitrile gloves (like surgical gloves, but not latex) for $1.88 ea. probably not sterile, but like you said, it sure beats bare hands, and I’d rather be maybe dead than dead. They also had a special on a product called “mold fighter” in gallon jugs, for $.88 ea. It is a cleaning agent, with bleach, intended for outdoor use, like on decks, to kill mold. I think it could also be a cheap, and effective item to store for decontamination.

  25. Dedicated Dad,

    Many veterinarian supplies and medicines can be used in place of human intended stuff in a pinch and can be openly bought at some feed and pet stores. Fish penicillin for example, same stuff as used on humans. There is a SHTF doctor and nurse on the net that go into this, Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy @ and there are other SHTF/survival docs out there.

    One animal medicine type thing that may be extremely useful is vet wrap. Can be used for wounds and is the same stuff they use in hospitals only it comes in bright colors and not flesh tones. I know about it from owning horses and I have used this on my self in a pinch. It sticks to itself and is better than gauze or an ace bandage for staying on. I would recommend putting a sterile pad on any wound under it though. Cheaper at feed stores than at medical supply houses.


    1. There is a fairly new product called Oral I.V.-Rapid Rehydration Ultra Concentrate. There are several sites with information, Helion Formulas being one. It is supposed to have a five year shelf-life and takes little storage space.

      Dehydration, which can be life-threatening in a very short time has been one of my great concerns. If the patient can’t keep anything down, some fluids can be absorbed rectally, that is in the lower large intestine. This product might be useful for those who haven’t the supplies or knowledge to establish an I.V. to replace fluids and electrolytes.

      Caveat: I am neither a doctor nor a nurse.

      1. Also, in addition to Oral I.V., Warrior Wound Care sells a product called 7 Day Bandage. If it works as well as they say, it is a very useful product to include in your medical stash.

      2. Oral IV is overpriced garbage.

        Just google “oral rehydration salts”. Each small envelope makes a liter and the stuff works miracles. Also great to prevent or alleviate a hangover, depending on whether you drink it before bed or after waking-up from a night of hard drinking… 😉

        1. Almost forgot: I carry a couple of individual packets of Crystal Light to make the stuff less miserable to drink, especially for kids and whiners… Deployed soldiers can just grab them from the DFAC or PX and I recommend the lemonade packets, because the saltiness actually tastes great with the sourness and goes down easy. I used to make new guys to the desert heat drink one per day until they got accustomed to the rapid dehydration and how to manage themselves properly. It also saved me once during a bout of severe food poisoning when I was far from medical facilities. A well-trained person with some knowledge and on-hand supplies is good in all kinds of situations, not just worst case ones.

  26. Anyone ever used alum to stop bleeding? I’ve heard it was once included in GI first aid kits. BTW, does iodine go bad? I noticed the iodine you can buy OTC has expiration date on the bottle. Guess you need to rotate some of the medical supplies just like food.

    1. Alum will stop a small bleed, like a shaving cut; it was often used in a crayon-shape called a styptic pencil, for that purpose. But for a larger wound with not a lot of bleeding, superglue is a better substitute for a butterfly; for large wound and lots of blood, Celox is better and forms a clot quickly without the heat associated with Qwik-Clot. Amazon has it, as well as other places.

  27. Selco

    I am in the middle of listening to your course. I’m in awe of your insights and story. Today is Sunday and I won’t be able to do anything until I finish listening to your experiences because your interviews are so compelling. You have done a fantastic job in not only noticing all the nuances, and details of everything but you also have an exceptional ability to see the total picture. Congratulations on a job well done !

    Now I’m going to get back to your course 🙂

    1. I saw a commercial last night about a show coming on in a few weeks called “Doomsday Preppers” on the History channel (I think). Hopefully it will be informative and not condescending in it’s portrayal of prepping. It’s starting to become more mainstream everyday, not just for the “Tin Foil Hat” crowd anymore.


  28. Everyone

    Selco does not mention this, but i think he was protected by Our Creator so he could help us with all this information. Best way to prep is to prepare and best of all is to PRAY.

    My best to all of you !

  29. Selco,
    What did you do to sterilize medical implements/tools? Rakia/clear liquors? Boiling? Someone mentioned previously about autoclaving w/ a pressure cooker?

    Thanks again for sharing what you have endured,

    1. @YankeeTexan

      It was rakia and boiling. In some areaas where some kind of war hospitals were working they use home made autoclaves, actualy they were just bigger pressure cookers.

  30. Selco,
    I think one of the best parts of your website is the comments section. By that I mean, just by reading the comments I see that you are getting people to think and to share ideas. Before people were in denial, now at least they are CONSIDERING the possiblity that the shit might actually hit the fan and when it does it’s gonna splatter. Thinking leads to planning, planning leads to prepping, prepping leads to survival. You may never know how many lives your blog may save, But I feel it will be many. Thanks again for all your words of wisdom.

    1. First thing to prepare is mind. Fact that bad thing can happen and probably will happen. Fact that bad things can happen to all of us, anywhere, not only in some strange countries far away.

  31. Had a similar thing happen with a friend, in his late 50s, last month, he had a small scratch that pimpled up, and he squeezed it out, wiped it off and thought nothing about it, a few days later his hand swelled up , went to doc, who gave him, antibiotics and sent him home , a few days later, his hand is all swelled up worse, and goes back to doc, who literally freaks out, and sends him right over to the local hospital and has him admitted , he was there for 10 days,had IVs, ect, it took all those resources to save him, all over a small cut,
    really made us think hard about , what if the resources had not been available.
    thanks for your hard hitting blog, Selco, take care,

  32. Regarding honey for wound treatment, it is used sometimes to treat bedsores and is available as a higher priced “pharm” grade product called Medi-honey. I assume this is just sterile packaged honey specifically for wounds.

    Anyway, honey or sugar alone will not heal an open wound like a bedsore without the ability to consume enough protein and get circulation to the area. Pressure sores must be allowed to heal from the inside out and should never be sutured or butterfly closed. Regular daily irrigation and dressing changes and a proper diet (with enough protein!) must be concomitant with antibacterials. Even then, there is no guarantee the wound won’t result in sepsis and death – even with modern hospital care – especially in the elderly and infirm.

    Best to try to avoid damage, eat healthy foods and keep your body systems in strong shape if possible.

    1. Something else to think about is to make sure all your vaccinations are up-to-date.

      Some vaccinations are good for life, but others need to be renewed every few years.

      When was your last tetanus shot? Do you even know?

  33. I am from Singapore.

    I got all my antibiotics from here (purchased 3 batches from them without any issues) (under fish –> antibiotics).

    My whole family took them (mostly amoxicillin or cephalexin, I still have a lot of other AB like cipro and penicillin etc. but so far amoxicillin solved all our problems).

    Make sure you know what you are doing else I will advise you to see doctor instead.

    Also remember to buy a nursing handbook for reference from here

    To verify whether the AB is real, you will need to buy at least a bottle, check the marker on the capsules and compare it at

    Cheers 🙂

  34. To back up some things already suggested. Yes you can distill alcohol, and you can use the small electric water distillers to make small batches. I have large stills which hold 20l ..5 gal. You can even use fruit to make wine.. then distill. The fruit can be poor quality.. almost rotten. A good use for excess fruit. Has several uses….;-)… morale boosting…trade etc..
    Also pressure cookers as sterilizers. The big “Mirror” brand ones are actually sold for this as well as for pressure canning. If you cut up old sheets for bandages, it would be a good idea to steam sterilize them.
    You can use a large pressure cooker as the basis for a still. Put a copper coil ( or plastic tube) on the steam outlet.

  35. I have duct tape and medical superglue on hand, but duct tape isn’t sterile; and sealing a dirty wound with superglue (almost inevitable in SHTF) is a recipe for disaster. I also have – of course – betadine, hydrogen peroxide, and steri-strips. Lots of each.

    But for repairing large cuts, do you recommend having needles and sutures on hand – assuming you also have a qualified medical professional available ? If so – and you could only have one type in quantity – what would be your recommendation for needle and suture type?

    Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer. I really appreciate your life experiences and willingness to share…

  36. Just a note about using Providone or Betadine. If you have a thyroid problem or allergy to iodine, you should not use this product. Use hydrogen peroxide instead.

  37. Hydrogen peroxide has a very long shelf life. if sealed it’s easily 10 years (manufacturers say 1 year to try and drive sales up.) but I have a bottle here that has been opened and is over 5 years old that still foams up very well. I suggest buying stronger strengths for prepping and dilute with distilled water when needed down to 3%.

    Some preppers are finding that peroxide will last far longer than 10 years in a sealed dark bottle stored in a dark cool place.

  38. There is a new program on TV called “Alaskan Bush People”. When they get a minor cut or bruise they wrap it with moss and duck tape. According to the program the moss is sterile. Works for them.

  39. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us and showing everyone the importance of basic First Aid training. In the event of an emergency, having the essential skills and supplies on hand can really help a situation become less of an emergency. I can especially appreciate the fact that your shared with us exactly what you carry in your everyday First Aid Kit. This is very useful for those who are not sure what to put into their kits. Having a properly supplied kit is crucial to First Aid treatment, in addition to being properly certified by professionals.

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