First Aid Tips for the Galley

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2012 • all rights reserved

 

Four quick first aid tips for cuts -- that usually aren't taught in any First Aid class. Important to know when you're away from medical facilities!

Cuts and burns are a fact of life in the galley.  And while I don’t have any great tips when it comes to burns other than “be careful,” I have learned a few things about dealing with cuts.  I’m not a doctor, nor do I have any super-advanced first aid training.  Obviously, if a medical professional tells you something else, do what they say — this is just my own experience.  And this is no substitute for getting some First Aid training and having a proper kit . . .

Avoiding Infections

In the typical heat and humidity aboard a boat, cuts and scrapes are much more likely to get infected.  Doubly so if you go for a swim (I know that water looks pure — I’ve learned the hard way that if you’re in the typical anchorage, it’s not).

The easiest way to avoid infections is to keep a tube of triple antibiotic ointment right next to the sink, in the head.  Leave it right out where it’s an eyesore.  And then, every time you wash your hands, dab a bit on any cuts and scrapes you have (hands, legs, feet, wherever).  Once we started doing this, our cuts and scrapes just never got infected.

For cuts or scrapes that look like they might be getting infected, it’s a good idea to put some triple antibiotic ointment on a Band-Aid and put it over the area.  The Band-Aid will keep the ointment in contact with the injury as well as keeping more dirt out of it.

A Quick Bandage

Sometimes, something’s happening and you just don’t have the luxury of going to the First Aid box and really taking care of things as you should.  Right inside the nav desk, we always kept a roll of duct tape.  Another one in the dinghy.  More than once, we just pulled off a piece and stuck it over a cut until we could properly deal with it.  I know, medical professionals are going to scream.

Keeping Band-Aids On

Another cruiser — a doctor — taught us about Tincture of Benzoin.  Dab it on your skin first, and adhesive bandages stick much better, even if you’re sweating, washing dishes, or whatever.  I wrote a full article about this and where to buy it (it can be hard to find) — read it here.

Bad Cuts

Thinking that you really need butterfly bandages or Steri-Strips, but you don’t have any?  You can make your own — I learned how to in Girl Scouts, back before you could buy such things.

1.  Cut a piece of tape the size that you want the finished bandage to be.  First aid tape is the obvious choice, but you can use anything — I’ve used duct tape, electrical tape and even masking tape.  You can also use a Band-Aid.

2.  Fold the tape in half cross-wise, sticky side out.  On the folded end, cut a triangle off each side, leaving a pointed end that is just barely joined to the other half by a section about 1/16″ inch wide.

3.  Unfold the tape and twist the ends two complete times, so that there is a thin twisted section in the middle.  You now have your butterfly bandage — admittedly not perfectly sanitary, but if it’s the only alternative . . .

4.  Put one half on the skin on one side of the cut, so that the thin twisted section is right over the cut.  Pull gently as you put the other side down on the other side of the cut, holding the two edges together.

5.  You’ll probably have to make more than one butterfly — you want them about 1/4″ to 3/8″ apart if possible.

6.  Once you get the butterflies in place (you did use Tincture of Benzoin under them so they’ll stay on, didn’t you?), cover with a traditional bandage with a dab of triple antibiotic on it.

Another option is to use SuperGlue — it’s similar to the surgical glue used in many operations.  But — you can’t use the type that says it’s formulated not to stick to skin (yeah, you want it to stick the skin together) AND you don’t want to get your fingers stuck to the wound.  Add in the fact that 90% of the time when we get a little tube of SuperGlue out, it’s already hard and I’m thinking that DIY butterflies are looking pretty good.  Seriously, I’ve made my own butterflies quite a few times and they’ve worked just as well as the commerical ones — I’ve never had to have stitches, outside of surgery.

Got some other quick tips for cuts and scrapes?

Do You Find The Boat Galley Useful?

You can support the site when you buy from Amazon by using the links on this site and the search bar below. No extra cost to you!

Comments

  1. Molly Stokes on Facebook says:

    My tip is: when working around water with a cut finger, cut off the finger of a rubber glove and put over it, taping around base with duct tape. OR use a condom. Important to keep those cuts dry.

  2. Great idea — yes, we bought condoms just for that purpose!

  3. Peggy bowers says:

    We find many uses for the tops of crew socks. They help hold bandages on elbows and knees. Just used one on a sprained ankle. Put the sock top over the ankle then wrapped it with duct tape. Seems we always have socks with worn heels, so a steady supply of sock tops for our first aid kits.

  4. Good simple advice as usual Carolyn, thanks.

  5. Happy to see the super glue mention, that’s what it was invented for!! Also, most medical types would say that putting duct tape on a cut would be keeping it closed, and clean; which is good!

    Great first aid tips, keep up the good work Carolyn!

  6. I agree that the superglue will work, but if this has ANY chance of infection you will be sealing the bad guys in. Butterfly bandages nearly always will suffice.

  7. Brendan Dean Kemp some tips

  8. Christine Springfield says:

    As a paramedic, I applaud your inventiveness. If duct tape works or other “Mcgyver” solutions resolve the issue, it’s all good. I’ve splinted broken bones with college term papers or sticks and duct tape and bandaged with bandannas and even a roll of toilet paper. Yes, the toilet paper roll was used on duty… It was close and they were bleeding badly. So, there’s your endorsement!

  9. Jennifer Spires says:

    The frequent use of antibiotic ointment may contribute to the development of superbugs, germs that are immune to antibiotics. Also, it may contribute to the development of allergies to antibiotics. By using Triple Antibiotic, you risk developing allergies to all three of those antibiotics. This is the voice of experience, after burning my hands in a kitchen accident, I discovered I’m allergic to most topical antibiotics.

  10. I bought “finger cots” at a good drug store once to keep a nasty finger cut dry yet still keep washing. They come in assorted sizes. Yes, they can be frustrating to roll on, but they work.

  11. Christine Springfield says:

    You can also make your own finger cot by cutting off the finger of a glove.

Add Your Thoughts

*

Please note: I'm currently cruising and don't have internet all the time. Comment approval may be delayed a few days!