Dealing with an Infection From a Wound in Survival Situations

Dealing with an Infection From a Wound in Survival Situations

Signs Your Cut is Infected and Steps to Take

The best way to survive an infection from a wound when SHTF is to not let a wound get infected in the first place! Clean the wound out immediately! Infections are the #1 killer in any disaster situation. It is estimated that 2 out of every 3 deaths in a disaster scenario are caused by some kind of infection. Therefore, a small cut can take you down as fast as many other situations, if left untreated.

The one thing preppers should have on hand is a first aid kit. Most preppers not only have a kit but have been stocking up on numerous medical supplies and other antibiotics as well. However, if the situation gets into the long term, these supplies and especially antibiotics will run out.

Signs of Infected Wounds

So how do you care for an infected wound once the infection happens in survival situations? How do you know the wound is infected in the first place?
There are distinct signs when a wound has become infected.

  • The wound is red and may be swollen.
  • There may be a red streak moving in the direction toward your heart from the wound.
  • There is heat on and around the wound.
  • You may have a fever.
  • The wound may be seeping pus or other discolored liquid that smells bad.

In regular day-to-day situations, we depend on clean water to keep our cuts clean and then we can let ordinary cuts heal, but in survival situations, water is usually scarce, and you can’t trust the water source from your tap. It may be contaminated. You have to have a way to purify the water such as boiling, then cooling and keeping the clean water in an airtight container so it does not become contaminated.

If you have determined there is an infection in a wound, there is zero time to waste. If you have clean water, you should figure out a way to push water into the wound to thoroughly clean out the wound. Then covering the wound is a must. This is different than a full-blown open wound. With open wounds, there are a number of different steps you must take. We are talking about minor cuts and scrapes that become infected.

You should have sterile bandages in your supply but if you don’t, find a clean cotton cloth if possible. The key is to not get any dirt into the wound. This type of wound should be covered in order to not become infected once it has been cleaned and antibiotics have been applied.


There are several plants that have healing properties. Aloe is one. It is usually thought to heal burns, but if that is all you have, use it. Other plants include comfrey, plantain, ginger, and goldenseal. Honey is another healing agent and this is a good reason for preppers to also think about raising bees.

Two Infections that Can Spread

Staph and MRSA are the two infections that develop in a person’s body that demand antibiotics, water, and rest. These are life-threatening infections that can arise from a small cut that is not treated properly from the beginning. The big symptoms are as follows:

  • Fever over 100 degrees Fahrenheit when taken orally or rectally. It's one thing if the cut is hot, but when the whole body has a fever, it means the infection is spreading.
  • Body aches, especially in joints and areas not adjacent to the injury. It's understandable if your cut is sore, but the rest of you shouldn't be.
  • Nausea or diarrhea are both indicators that an infection has moved from the local injury to affect other body systems (specifically, the gastrointestinal system).

If you have determined that not only is the wound hot, but the person who has the wound also has a fever and the above symptoms, it is important to administer antibiotics. Now is not the time to scrimp on dolling out the juice. This person needs an antibiotic as much as someone who has been shot. They are just as infected, and their life is as much at risk. They need antibiotics and water. If the water is tainted, then it has to be purified as well.


Every prepper knows water for drinking and water for cleaning is important in survival situations. If the tap water is working, then you have a source. After a flood, earthquake, hurricane, or battle, you cannot always trust the water is pure. But if the water is still running, you can boil this water with a fire. This is providing you are able to shelter in place.

If you are surviving on the move, as you know, you have to find a water source. Without a water source, it is very difficult to survive. A person who is being treated for an infected wound will have survival chances lowered if there is no water source. The key is to find water for drinking and for cleaning the wound. If the person has a fever, they must have clean water to drink to fight the infection.

A water from a stream has to be boiled. This means you have to find wood and build a fire to boil water. There is a way to boil water if you don’t have a container. Instead of adding heat to a pot you add a hot rock that has been sitting in a fire. The hot rock will heat up the water to a boil if you don't try to do too much water at one time.

Obviously if you have a pot this boil method should not be used. But this method works great in survival situations where you have no man-made material. The water container could be something as simple as a large leaf or some other natural container that you have made. This is extreme, but you may have to use it, so keep this in the back of your mind. And think about grabbing a pot on your way out of the door when SHTF.

When in a survival situation, you are trying to do anything you can to help yourself and others with you to make it to the other side. As a prepper, now is the time to make sure you are stocking up on what you might need. The big takeaway is to have major piles of antibiotic ointments and bandages. Make sure you have plenty in stock at home and in your first aid kits. Also, if there is an opportunity to grow some of the above-mentioned herbs to make antibiotics for healing, they do not take a great deal of space. Prepare and plan. Plan and prepare.

The key to survival when SHTF is knowing what to do. Act right away and know what to do by planning now so we are prepared for later. And maybe in the midst of the planning, keep a small boiling pot by the door, just in case.


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***Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.***

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on September 17, 2019, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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