First Aid: How To Treat a Minor Cut or Injury

The following information was retrieved from The Mayo Clinic website, and has been updated to be specifically applicable to Hurricane Harvey and flooding survivors.

  1. Wash your hands. Never touch an injury with unwashed. Use warm water and antibacterial soap. Hand sanitizer is alright if you have no clean water, however it is not ideal.
  2. Stop the bleeding. Minor cuts and scrapes usually stop bleeding on their own. If needed, apply gentle pressure with a clean bandage or cloth and elevate the wound until bleeding stops.
  3. Clean the injury. Rinse the injury with water. If you have tap water that has been specified as safe, keep the injury under running tap water to reduce the risk of infection. Wash around the injury with soap. Try not to get soap in the wound, and don’t use hydrogen peroxide or iodine, which can be irritating. Remove any dirt or debris with a tweezers cleaned with alcohol. See a doctor if you can’t remove all debris.
  4. Apply an antibiotic or petroleum jelly. Apply a thin layer of an antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly to keep the surface moist and help prevent scarring. Certain ingredients in some ointments can cause a mild rash in some people. If a rash appears, stop using the ointment.
  5. Cover the wound. Apply a bandage, rolled gauze or gauze held in place with paper tape. Covering the wound keeps it clean. If the injury is just a minor scrape or scratch, leave it uncovered.
  6. Change the dressing. Do this at least once a day or whenever the bandage becomes wet or dirty.
  7. Get a tetanus shot. Get a tetanus shot if you haven’t had one in the past five years and the wound is deep or was dirty.
  8. Watch for signs of infection. See a doctor if you see signs of infection on the skin or near the wound, such as redness, increasing pain, drainage, warmth or swelling. If your wound was exposed to flood water, you may require precautionary antibiotics. See a doctor.

Be aware that flood waters throughout Texas have become contaminated with raw sewage, gasoline from flooded cars, chemicals from lawns and businesses, and a whole host of other toxins. Be very careful and limit your exposure as much as possible. Never expose an injury to flood water.

Find more resources in our Hurricane Recovery Kit.

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