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There are various environmental injuries you can face in a survival situation – here’s the proper way to treat environmental injuries.

X-ray of transfusion-related acute lung injury in chest

Introduction to Environment Type Injuries

Heatstroke, hypothermia, diarrhea, and intestinal parasites are environmental injuries you could face in a survival situation. Read and follow the guidance provided below.


The breakdown of the body’s heat regulatory system (body temperature more than 40.5 degrees C [105 degrees F]) causes a heatstroke. Other heat injuries, such as cramps or dehydration, do not always precede a heatstroke. Signs and symptoms of heatstroke are:

  • Swollen, beet-red face.
  • Reddened whites of eyes.
  • Victim not sweating.
  • Unconsciousness or delirium, which can cause pallor, a bluish color to lips and nail beds (cyanosis), and cool skin.

NOTE: By this time, the victim is in severe shock. Cool the victim as rapidly as possible. Cool him by dipping him in a cool stream. If one is not available, douse the victim with urine, water, or at the very   35least, apply cool wet compresses to all the joints, especially the neck, armpits, and crotch. Be sure to wet the victim’s head. Heat loss through the scalp is great. Administer IVs and provide drinking fluids. You may fan the individual.

You can expect the following symptoms during cooling:

  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Struggling.
  • Shivering.
  • Shouting.
  • Prolonged unconsciousness.
  • Rebound heatstroke within 48 hours.
  • Cardiac arrest; be ready to perform CPR.

NOTE: Treat for dehydration with lightly salted water.

Frostnip or Chilblains

Frostnip begins as firm, cold and white or gray areas on the face, ears, and extremities that can blister or peel just like sunburn as late as 2 to 3 days after the injury. Frostnip, or chilblains as it is sometimes called, is the result of tissue exposure to freezing temperatures and is the beginning of frostbite. The water in and around the cells freezes, rupturing cell walls and thus damaging the tissue. Warming the affected area with hands or a warm object treats this injury. Wind chill plays a factor in this injury; preventative measures include layers of dry clothing and protection against wetness and wind.

Trench Foot

Immersion or trench foot results from many hours or days of exposure to wet or damp conditions at a temperature just above freezing. The nerves and muscles sustain the main damage, but gangrene can occur. In extreme cases the flesh dies and it may become necessary to have the foot or leg amputated. The best prevention is to keep your feet dry. Carry extra socks with you in a waterproof packet. Dry wet socks against your body.  Wash your feet daily and put on dry socks.


This injury results from frozen tissues. Frostbite extends to a depth below the skin. The tissues become solid and immovable. Your feet, hands, and exposed facial areas are particularly vulnerable to frostbite.

When with others, prevent frostbite by using the buddy system. Check your buddy’s face often and make sure that he checks yours. If you are alone, periodically cover your nose and lower part of your face with your mittens.

Do not try to thaw the affected areas by placing them close to an open flame. Frostbitten tissue may be immersed in 37 to 42 degrees C (99 to 109 degrees F) water until thawed. (Water temperature can be determined with the inside wrist or baby formula method.) Dry the part and place it next to your skin to warm it at body temperature.


It is defined as the body’s failure to maintain an inner core temperature of 36 degrees C (97 degrees F). Exposure to cool or cold temperature over a short or long time can cause hypothermia. Dehydration and lack of food and rest predispose the survivor to hypothermia.

Immediate treatment is the key. Move the victim to the best shelter possible away from the wind, rain, and cold. Remove all wet clothes and get the victim into dry clothing. Replace lost fluids with warm fluids, and warm him in a sleeping bag using two people (if possible) providing skin-to-skin contact. If the victim is unable to drink warm fluids, rectal rehydration may be used.


A common, debilitating ailment caused by changing water and food, drinking contaminated water, eating spoiled food, becoming fatigued, and using dirty dishes. You can avoid most of these causes by practicing preventive medicine. However, if you get diarrhea and do not have antidiarrheal medicine, one of the following treatments may be effective:

  • Limit your intake of fluids for 24 hours.
  • Drink one cup of a strong tea solution every 2 hours until the diarrhea slows or stops. The tannic acid in the tea helps to control the diarrhea. Boil the inner bark of a hardwood tree for 2 hours or more to release the tannic acid.
  • Make a solution of one handful of ground chalk, charcoal, or dried bones and treated water. If you have some apple pomace or the rinds of citrus fruit, add an equal portion to the mixture to make it more effective. Take 2 tablespoons of the solution every 2 hours until the diarrhea slows or stops.

Intestinal Parasites

You can usually avoid worm infestations and other intestinal parasites if you take preventive measures. For example, never go barefoot. The most effective way to prevent intestinal parasites is to avoid uncooked meat, never eat raw vegetables contaminated by raw sewage, and try not to use human waste as a fertilizer. However, should you become infested and lack proper medicine, you can use home remedies. Keep in mind that these home remedies work on the principle of changing the environment of the gastrointestinal tract. The following are home remedies you could use:

  • Salt water. Dissolve 4 tablespoons of salt in 1 liter of water and drink. Do not repeat this treatment.
  • Tobacco. Eat 1 to 1 1/2 cigarettes or approximately 1 teaspoon (pinch) of smokeless tobacco. The nicotine in the tobacco will kill or stun the worms long enough for your system to pass them. If the infestation is severe, repeat the treatment in 24 to 48 hours, but no sooner.
  • Kerosene. Drink 2 tablespoons of kerosene, but no more. If necessary, you can repeat this treatment in 24 to 48 hours. Be careful not to inhale the fumes. They may cause lung irritation.  NOTE: Tobacco and kerosene treatment techniques are very dangerous, be careful.
  • Hot peppers. Peppers are effective only if they are a steady part of your diet. You can eat them raw or put them in soups or rice and meat dishes. They create an environment that is prohibitive to parasitic attachment.
  • Garlic. Chop or crush 4 cloves, mix with 1 glass of liquid, and drink daily for 3 weeks.

Image Credits

In-Article Image Credits

X-ray of transfusion-related acute lung injury in chest via Wikimedia Commons by Journal of Medical Case Reports 2008 with usage type - Creative Commons License. October 28, 2008

Featured Image Credit

X-ray of transfusion-related acute lung injury in chest via Wikimedia Commons by Journal of Medical Case Reports 2008 with usage type - Creative Commons License. October 28, 2008


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