Disasters come in many forms and, as a result, a wide array of injuries follow.
Whether we’re talking about earthquakes, car wrecks, or riots, there are a few injuries that first responders will see over and over again.
When these incidents happen, seconds count.
The quicker one is able to administer first aid to their loved ones, the better chance they have of making it through the day in one piece.
So we’ve collected some of the most common disaster injuries you might face in a crisis in the hopes that it will help better prepare you.
Before we dive in, a disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I highly recommend seeking out quality medical training to bolster your skills. And if you’re already injured, seek out a medical professional.
Most Common Disaster Injuries
1. Lacerations/Puncture Wounds of the Limbs
The limbs account for somewhere around 64.6% of all wounds during warfare.
While warfare is different from an earthquake or tornado, there are important crossovers here that can’t be overlooked.
Gunshot wounds, explosions, falls, and fast-moving debris affect the soldier just as they do the civilian during a disaster.
As a result, it’s not too far of a stretch to draw a parallel here.
Blood loss is one of the leading causes of death in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.
A full 90% of battlefield fatalities happen before a medic can arrive on-site and half of these deaths occur from hemorrhage. Of these people who bleed to death, roughly 10 to 15% do so from arm or leg wounds.
If you can stop a bleed, you have the ability to potentially save a number of lives.
The keys to doing this are threefold — proper training, tourniquets, and compression. Blood clotting agents could also be considered as well.
To start with, you need to know what to do. For this, I recommend checking out our article on the Best First Aid Classes. It’s a good starting point to get you into a quality first aid course.
Also, the value of a tourniquet can’t be understated.
Israeli battle dressings are the last piece of the puzzle though.
These are fantastic tools that can keep a constant 30 pounds of pressure on a wound until professional medical care can be reached.
2. Lacerations and Puncture Wounds to the Torso
A metal pipe impaled through somebody’s stomach, a gunshot wound to the lung, a stabbing in the back — these are all common injuries in the aftermath of a disaster.
As I already pointed out, blood loss is a very real threat.
Any of these scenarios requires prompt professional medical attention.
However, there are things you can do in the meantime to help ensure the victim makes it that far.
Knowledge of how to stop a bleed is still vital here. I would further encourage you to seek training on how to apply a Hyfin chest seal.
Should somebody end up with a gunshot wound to the chest or some other form of puncturing of the chest wall, this could help save their life.
While several types of shock exist, the most severe comes from blood loss.
Given that hemorrhage is one of the chief reasons people die during disasters, it follows that shock will be common in such an environment as well.
Shock occurs when there’s a lack of blood getting to the organs.
If shock isn’t taken care of quickly enough, the result can be death. If you’re wanting to learn more about how to treat for such, check out the below video.
Fire goes hand-in-hand with disaster. Equipment explodes, bombs go off, and spontaneous fires break out.
On top of this, you have the potential for high-pressure steam scalding people and chemical burns as well.
There are a number of treatments available you can use to assist somebody until they can get appropriate help.
Burn gel, burn wraps, and even aloe vera can be used to treat burns. I highly recommend adding some of these treatments to your kits.
5. Broken Noses
Out of all the bones in your body, your nose is the most likely to break.
Whether we’re talking about taking a fist to the face, getting thrown onto your face by an explosion, or having a falling brick clip your nose, the nose is liable to have a bad day.
That ice pack can really help with the pain though.
Please wear gloves if you’re helping somebody with a broken nose. They’re notorious for getting massive amounts of blood everywhere.
That’s not a fun way to get yourself sick.
6. Crushing Syndrome
Gravity isn’t very friendly during disasters of any kind. It brings avalanches downhill and causes buildings to crash to the earth.
In any of these cases, people become crushed under tons of rubble.
Some will survive the initial impact but become pinned into place by concrete slabs, boulders, steel beams, or other heavy objects.
If this amount of pressure stays on the person for long enough, they will develop crushing syndrome where massive amounts of protein leach into the bloodstream by the damaged muscle.
Eventually, this results in kidney failure.
Peoples’ heads are prone to all sorts of injuries.
And during a disaster, you might suffer a number of things that could result in a head injury — falling down a stairwell, hit in the head with bricks, and concussive blasts from explosions.
One of the consequences of such can be a concussion — when the brain is injured by a sudden blow or jolt.
Most people fully recover from these, but the immediate aftermath is one filled with brutal headaches, mental fog, dizziness, and potentially blurred vision.
Like everything else on this list, your best bet is to get these people to appropriate care as quickly as possible.
If you experience any kind of water-based disaster, this is going to be one of the chief injuries that you see.
The best help you can offer is to get people out of the water fast and perform prompt CPR.
Also, PPT Editor Jacki suggests keeping a CPR mask or face shield on your keyring to protect yourself while performing CPR. Check out our round-up of the Best CPR Face Shields.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
Dirt, lack of sterile dressings, and lack of medical care can all lead to infection.
Pain, redness, warmth, and swelling are the main things to keep an eye out for here if you have a wound during any type of disaster situation.
Thankfully, there are items you can carry in your EDC, IFAK, or medical kits that will help ward off infection.
Disasters often leave people without shelter and at the mercy of the elements. Furthermore, some injuries — such as burns — leave a person more susceptible to the cold.
It’s because of all this that hypothermia is a very real threat to people, even in the summer.
With the perfect cocktail of miserable weather, cotton clothing, and injury, hypothermia can easily set in on a large portion of disaster survivors.
A couple of space blankets kept in your medkit can easily make the difference between life or death for people in such an event.
11. Cardiac arrest
Whether it’s from a heart attack, electrocution, hard impact to the heart, drowning, or something else, cardiac arrest can be a huge problem post-disaster.
Proper CPR training is a must for this. It’s an incredibly easy-to-learn skill, and it’s used on a daily basis to save lives.
It’s one of the most important medical skills you can have.
Disasters are serious business that results in the injury or death of those caught in the path.
However, you can very easily make a difference in somebody’s life by seeking out quality training and investing in a few versatile pieces of equipment.
To read more on disaster specific survival, check out some of our articles below:
Any other injuries you believe should be added to the list? Let us know in the comments below. If you want to dive further into survival, make sure to check out our Survival & Prepping Guide.
11 Most Common Disaster Injuries [And How To Survive] is written by Aden Tate for www.pewpewtactical.com