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Dangerous Animals & Wounds
Some animals can be our allies and even our food source while in survival situations.
Others can cause us a great deal of harm and significantly limit our chances of escaping the situation alive.
In this chapter, we will discover what animals may cause us harm, how to avoid them, and what to do if you get hurt.
Mosquitos are nobody’s favorite creature, and they can really drive you crazy when traveling. They don’t seem like a big deal, and most people are much more worried about larger predators. In fact, they are the most widespread and most deadly animals on the planet.
Surprised? They carry life-threatening pathogens such as malaria and other diseases, which kill an estimated 725,000 people every year.
Of course, when you are at home, you have your mosquito nets, your plug-in repellents, or your citronella candle. But you probably haven’t got any of those things now. So what are the most effective natural ways to avoid mosquito bites?
Firstly, keep away from large bodies of water, especially at dusk and at dawn.
Secondly, make sure to cover your body with loose-fitting clothing.
Thirdly, you want to build a smoky fire. Although not helpful for cooking or keeping warm, the smoke is a natural mosquito repellent. Pine trees, sagebrush, cedar, or wormwood are suitable trees.
Finally, there are some plants whose smell mosquitos can’t stand. Rubbed on your body, they will put them off biting you. These include pine needles, catnip, and peppermint, as mentioned earlier. Rub the bruised leaves directly on the skin and bye-bye mosquitos.
If you’ve already been bitten, there are some natural remedies you can use. The mosquito squad refers to the ancient Chinese method of rubbing the inside of the banana peel on the wound and leaving it there for several minutes.
Another source of relief comes from using something cool to reduce the swelling. You’re unlikely to have ice in this extreme survival situation, but perhaps some cool water on a rag could help to alleviate some of the itchiness. Crushed up basil is also said to decrease swelling.
As always, aloe vera is another useful remedy for treating mosquito bites, among so many other ailments. Tea tree oil is another natural remedy, but you’re unlikely to find this naturally in the wild unless you’re in Australia.
You may have to treat three principal types of bites in the wild: mammal bites, snake or spider bites, and stings.
The first preventative measure is always to make sure your tetanus and rabies vaccines are up-to-date. If you get bitten, first stop any bleeding. If possible, apply pressure and lift the wound above heart level for at least ten minutes to slow blood flow.
Be sure you wash the bite for at least five minutes. Make sure that the water is clean. If you have any way of creating some pressure with the water to rinse better, it is a good idea.
Experienced survival experts often carry a syringe. If you don’t have one, a good alternative is a ziplock bag that you can cut a small part of the corner off and squeeze.
After ensuring that the wound is clean, you can protect it from further infection. The best idea is to apply a bandage and to change it every 12 hours to avoid infection.
If you have access to an antibacterial plant-like pine sap, you can soak some onto some gauze and then apply fresh dry gauze on top and secure it in place. If you start to see signs of infection, like pus, throbbing, or heat in the area, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
If you don’t have any gauze and you’re in a desert, you can use some peeled prickly pear cactus pads, flesh side down, to dress the wound. These are particularly nifty as the prickly pear has antiseptic properties.
Snake and spider bites
The second type of bite is snake and spider bites. Although many people suggest sucking the poison out, this is not recommended. It is better to isolate the bite-site to prevent the spreading of the venom. Keep the person calm and reduce their movement, too, as the faster the heartbeat, the faster the poison spreads.
You have to apply pressure on the wound and apply a bandage above it, which winds down over the bite. It should be tight, but the limb should not turn blue. If you can put the area in clean, cool water or add a cold compress, it’s an excellent way to reduce swelling.
- Read more: how to treat snake bites in the wild
The final type of bite is stings. You can use plantain to extract some of the poison from bee, wasp, and scorpion stings. You can then crush the leaves into a paste and apply them to the wound.
Of course, in the case of bee stings, you need to extract the sting carefully first. If necessary, gently run a needle over the area to lift the stinger, and then pull it out with tweezers. It’s also a good idea to apply a cold compress to reduce swelling but never burst the poison sac.
Always look out for useful plants. They serve as remedies to many common discomforts:
One of the most common medical problems people experience in extreme survival situations is diarrhea. Luckily, there are several easy remedies you can make.
The first one is blackberry leaves. Use around 2.5 ounces per cup of water, and leave to steep in the not quite boiling water for 5-10 minutes. Then drink immediately.
You can also use a plant called Lamb’s quarters, which is all over North America. It can be eaten raw or made into a tea, in the same way as the blackberry leaves.
Many plants have pain-killing properties. You can remove a little bark from Birchbark trees’ twigs and make tea by boiling them in hot water for 10 minutes. You must be careful with the quantities with this remedy, as too much can cause stomach upset. Stick to ¼ tsp of bark per cup of water.
The Black willow tree’s bark can also be removed and chewed to relieve pain and even reduce fever.
In terms of antibiotics, the best all-rounder is garlic. You can either consume lots of it or apply some of the juice topically. Thyme is another natural antibiotic that you can smash and use as a paste on wounds before applying bandages.
A common issue when in extreme situations is skin irritation. Crush lavender and apply it to the affected area to reduce swelling and itching.
Burdock root is another plant with medicinal properties. It can be used to treat acne, eczema, psoriasis, and even topic burns in some cases due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
You can eat the boiled roots and leaves or create a tincture from dried roots and alcohol and consume around 15 drops.
As we discussed before, plantain is another medicinal plant. Apply crushed leaves to bites or stings. It can help to extract venom from bee and scorpion stings.
Dangerous Animals & Wounds
Surprisingly, some of the most dangerous animals are the smallest. Keeping them at bay – or knowing what to do in a pinch – is essential to survival.
In the next chapter, we’ll go over various methods for maintaining your body temperature. Extreme heat, cold, and humid or dry conditions are dangerous, and it’s critical you take action to protect yourself.