CDC Offers Tips for Emergency Wound Care after an Earthquake

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk for injury during and after an earthquake is high. Prompt first aid can help heal small wounds and reduce chances of infection. Tetanus is a potential health threat for persons who have wounds.

Seek medical attention as soon as possible if:

  • There is a foreign object embedded in the wound;
  • The wound is at special risk of infection (such as a dog bite or a puncture by a dirty object);
  • An old wound shows signs of becoming infected (increased pain and soreness, swelling, redness, draining, or you develop a fever).

How to Care for Minor Wounds:

  • Remove jewelry and clothing from the injured body part.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water, if available.
  • Avoid touching the wound with your fingers (if possible, use disposable latex gloves).
  • If the wound continues to bleed, apply direct pressure, if possible with clean cloth or gauze.
  • Clean the wound after bleeding has stopped.
  • For unclean wounds, bites, and punctures, leave them open. Wounds that are not cleaned correctly can trap bacteria and become infected.
  • Use pain relievers, if necessary.

Other Considerations:

  • Any wound can become infected.
  • Crush injuries are more likely to become infected than wounds from cuts.
  • Wounds exposed to standing water, sea life, and ocean water have increased chances of infection.
  • Wounds in contact with soil and sand have increased chances of infection.
  • Puncture wounds can carry bits of clothing and dirt into wounds and result in infection.
  • If tetanus immunization is not current, seek medical attention. If you have a puncture wound or a wound contaminated with feces, soil, or saliva, have a health care professional determine whether a tetanus booster is necessary.

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