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Day After Disaster: 4 Scenarios to Test Your Basic Survival Medicine Skills

Sara F. Hathaway

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

I thought I’d have a little fun today and walk you through what to do in some scenarios to test your basic survival medicine skills.

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Thick Toenails: 5 Causes and a Bunch of Treatments

Sometimes you just have to live with thick toenails—and some strong clippers.*

Sometimes you just have to live with thick toenails—and get some strong clippers.*

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Several of my Facebook fans have asked what to do for their thick toenails. And to tell the truth, it’s not a trivial question. Thick toenails can be the starting point for bad bruises, infections, even gangrene.

In a disaster situation, these problems could become more likely if you have to do a lot of walking or even just standing. If your shoes press on the toenail, the toe can become quite bruised. Then, if your toes swell from the bruising, the shoes will be tighter on them, causing a dangerous cycle, even to the point of killing some of the tissue under the nail.

So it’s best to treat thick toenails before a disaster rather than during.

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The Top-8 Medical Uses for Vodka

The Top-8 Medical Uses for Vodka | The Survival Doctor

Previously the top-7 medical uses!

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Thursday, the U.S. government banned liquids, including gels, in carry-ons to Russia. That means hand sanitizers. That means hand sanitizers that reporters and visitors on their way to Sochi for the Olympics probably packed because of tales of contaminated water.

What to do? Even if you didn’t put sanitizer in your checked bag and Russia’s all sold out when you get there, remember, this country just so happens to be famous for … its vodka. Vodka is about 40 percent alcohol. Alcohol kills germs. So in a pinch, vodka = medical supply.

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4 Ways to Sterilize Your Medical Instruments [Book Excerpt]

4 Ways to Sterilize Instruments (Excerpt from "Living Ready Pocket Manual: First Aid")

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

For this month’s posts, I’ve chosen some excerpts from my new book, Living Ready Pocket Manual: First Aid, that I think will especially interest my regular blog readers. If you’ve already bought the book, I’d be interested to hear what you think of these sections.

First up: Here at the blog, I’ve gone into a good bit of detail about treating wounds, but have you ever wondered when you need to sterilize the instruments and dressings you use?

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How Dangerous Is Tetanus Really? 10 FAQs

How Dangerous Is Tetanus Really? 10 FAQs | The SurvivalDoctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Over the years I’ve given my share of tetanus shots. And over the years, I’ve noticed that while most people know they need one on occasion, they’re just not sure when or, in fact, what the shot really prevents. I thought I’d provide my take and answer a few FAQs.

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On the Scene: How to Help Victims Survive a Mass Shooting

A SWAT team member prepares. Even in normal circumstances, help may not be able to get to you quickly in a mass shooting. Safety must be established first.

A SWAT team member prepares. Even in normal circumstances, help may not be able to get to you quickly after a mass shooting. Safety must be established first. You may be able to help people survive in the meantime.

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Today, I’d like to address some tragedies that have been the news recently: the Navy Yard, Chicago park and Kenya mall shootings.

I won’t get into the causes or preventions of mass shootings. That’s not my expertise. Your guess is as good a mine. What I want to briefly discuss is how to help a victim survive a shooting after 911 has been called (if it’s available).

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To Pop or Not to Pop? This Answer Can Make Your Blister Heal Better

To Pop or Not to Pop? This Answer Can Make Your Blister Heal Better | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

When someone comes in to my office with a burn or really any type of condition that causes a blister I’m almost always asked what’s the best treatment—specifically, should they pop the blister or not pop?

Over the years, I’ve come up with some blister treatment guidelines. But first I should tell you why just popping all blisters is not always the best plan.

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How to Treat a Burn Like a TV Star

What a TV star did right and wrong when she caught on fire—in real life. | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Many of us try to stay outside as much as we can this time of year. Grilling, camping, swimming, there’s so much to do. You sure don’t want to waste time when you could be having fun recuperating from an injury.

One hazard common to all the activities I mentioned is burns. Even a bad sunburn can be severe enough to cause blisters and make you feel horrible. (In fact, I recently wrote on how to avoid this and on the pros and cons of using sunscreen.) But sometimes, accidents just happen—and so do burns worse than any sunburn. That’s why everyone should know at least the basics of how to treat a burn. Minimize the damage, and you’ll minimize that recovery time.

As an example, let’s look at a real-life burn. Would you know what to do in the following situation?

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“Sunscreen Causes Cancer”: Truth or Fiction?

"Sunscreen Causes Cancer": Truth or Fiction? | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

I didn’t realize until a few days ago how prevalent the view is—at least on the Internet—that sunscreen causes cancer. Many people state the claims of dangers as given facts. And they say organizations like the American Medical Association stand behind them. (Not true. I don’t know of any mainstream medical organization that recommends against sunscreen when you’re in the sun.)

The truth matters here. Because not even the fiercest critics of sunscreen debate against the fact that absorbing too many UV rays from the sun is a big risk factor for skin cancer.

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Video: How to Apply a Tourniquet Properly

Video: How to Apply a Tourniquet Properly | The Survival Doctor

by James Hubbard, MD, MPH

Tourniquets have been on my mind lately. It’s a shame many people don’t know how to properly apply one to stop bleeding. It’s so easy. But, like most things, someone has to show you before you can learn.

I read of a man bitten on his thigh by a beaver. The large femoral artery that runs from the groin down the inner thigh was severed, and the man bled to death. My first thought was, maybe he could have been saved if someone had known how to stop the bleeding—in particular, how to apply a tourniquet.

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