Quickwhat's the best way to treat a burn? Or a sliced finger? Or a bad blow to the head?
The immediate steps you take in an emergencywhether you're miles deep in the wilderness or just a few blocks from a hospitalcan be crucial. "If you're not prepared, you'll feel stressed, and stress leads to poor decisions," says Reggie Bennett, founder of the Mountain Shepherd Wilderness Survival School in Catawba, Va. But that doesn't mean you need to scour a medical text. Just focus now on learning what's most important. Here's our guide to treating 8 common injuries.
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You tripped and rolled your ankle
Wear a compression wrap for the first three days. For a few hours a day, prop your ankle above your heart and ice it for 20 minutes in 40-minute intervals.
Warning: Rest is key. Hobble around and you risk further injuring a ligament.
Seek help if walking is excruciating or your ankle is purple or puffy.
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You got clobbered in the head by a softball
Ice the area and watch for signs of a concussion: headache, blurry vision, irritability, memory issues, sleepiness and sensitivity to light and noise.
Warning: Don't "shake it off." You're not out of the woods for a few hours.
Seek help if you vomit, pass out or just feel too dizzy to walk.
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You sliced your hand open
Grab a clean towel and press hard on the wound for 5 to 10 minutes with your hand elevated. When the bleeding stops, hold your hand under running water. Then apply an antibiotic ointment or cream and a bandage.
Warning: Don't peek! If you release pressure in the first five minutes, you should restart the clock.
Seek help if the bleeding doesn't stop, the wound is gaping or it's more than 1/2 inch long or spans a joint.
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You burned yourself
Hold the injured skin under tepid water. Then dab on antibiotic cream and bandage loosely.
Warning: Ice may actually slow healing by reducing blood flow.
Seek help if the burn is larger than 2 centimeters or extends around a joint; the skin is broken or blackened or blisters immediately.
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You scraped your arm on a rusty bench
Clean the cut with soap and warm water. If you can't recall when you last had a tetanus shot (or it's been more than a decade), head to a clinic.
Warning: Skip hydrogen peroxide. It may do more damage to the skin.
Seek help if your arm grows warm or turns red.
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You have heat exhaustion
Have a headache, dizziness and nausea? Jump into a cool shower, or get in front of a fan or AC and hydrate.
Warning: Heat exhaustion can escalate to life-threatening heat stroke.
Seek help if you faint, feel too nauseous to drink, stop sweating or develop a fever or rapid pulse.
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You wiped out and your nose is bleeding
Tilt your head forward, pinch your nostrils and hold for 10 to 20 minutes.
Warning: Tipping your head back will get you a throatful of blood.
Seek help if it doesn't stop after 20 minutes.
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You got stung by a bee or wasp
Scrape away the stinger with a credit card and clean the area with soap and water. Dull the pain with ice and an NSAID.
Warning: Wasps can sting more than once, so get out of there!
Seek help if you have trouble breathing or your tongue or throat swells.