Why duct tape is a first aid staple
In a survival situation—such as after a huge storm, when the roads are out and you can’t get medial help—one of the most likely injuries you’ll get is a wound. And one of the most likely supplies you’ll be able to access is duct tape. Fortunately, that’ll often do the trick (unless you’re allergic to latex, which, warning: duct tape contains). Here’s how to protect a wound, close a cut, and even stop a shooting victim’s lung from collapsing—all with duct tape. Check more of my genius first aid tricks for when help is NOT on the way here.
If you’re bleeding
First things first: Stop the bleeding. If putting pressure on a badly bleeding arm, leg, hand, or foot doesn’t work, use a tourniquet. Duct tape is not nearly as good for this as a commercial tourniquet or even a belt, but it’s worth a try if it’s all you have in a dire situation. The quickest trick is just to tape around your bleeding arm or leg, above the wound, taping tighter and tighter until the bleeding stops. Use a 2-inch-wide strip: too narrow can cut into the skin; too wide doesn’t allow for enough compression. This quick-wrap method is fast, but one downside is you may not be able to get the tape tight enough to stop the bleeding. Another option is to create an adjustable tourniquet. Fold a strip of duct tape together so there’s no stickiness. Wrap the strip around the arm or leg, above the wound. Tie the ends of the strip to a strong stick, and wind the stick like a steering wheel, twisting the tape tighter and tighter, until the bleeding stops. Whatever kind of tourniquet you use, get professional medical help as soon as possible because keeping a tourniquet on too long can cause permanent tissue damage or the loss of a limb. Here’s how you can use a T-shirt as a makeshift tourniquet.