Minor first aid

Nicks, cuts and scrapes will happen when involved in a DIY project. Be sure to have some basic first aid supplies on hand to take care of these situations. Here are some simple fix tips.

Contents of a nicely equipped first aid kit
Contents of a nicely equipped first aid kit

Because around my household, it isn't a project until some blood is shed, let's talk about first aid - you know the minor, there is no need to rush to the hospital kind. The good news is that you probably already have everything you need in your medicine cabinet right now.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and am not licensed to dispense medical information. What I will pass along here are things I learned in Boy Scouts, from experience, home remedies and other sources.

During a project, it is a common occurrence to scrape a knuckle, cut a finger or otherwise damage the protective layer called the skin to a depth sufficient to draw blood. No, I am not clumsy or careless, I seem prone to these minor injuries.

As proof that I am not the only one who cuts themselves during a project, check out the clever promo item from Knife Kits, a company that sells knifemaking supplies.

So, with this disclaimer in place, here is what I do when minor first aid is needed. Doctors and professionals everywhere will likely cringe when they read what I do for these nicks and dings.

Cuts and scrapes

  1. Upon seeing blood or feeling the cut/scrape, I make sure the injury bleeds enough to clear the wound of debris and other goodies.
  2. If it isn't too bad and I don't want to take a break to get a genuine band-aid, construct a "mand-aid." This is where you take a piece of paper towel, fold it to fit the cut or scrape and hold it in place with whatever tape is handy. Note: I'd love to claim I came up with this clever term, but alas, 'tis not the case. I heard it on Forged in Fire. Those folks have seen their share of cuts.
  3. When I'm ready to treat the cut properly, I start by pouring household hydrogen peroxide over the wound. It should foam when it contacts blood. Peroxide is a great cleaner.
  4. Next, I wipe around the wound with alcohol and let the area dry.
  5. Finally, it's time to apply some antibiotic cream like Neosporin or spray like Bactine and cover the injury with a band-aid.
  6. In a pinch, some gauze and masking tape can be used to create a temporary band-aid. A clean paper towel can stand in for gauze.

Warning, pithy anecdote follows...

Over the years, I have cut my fingers so many times, my fingerprints are 99%+ identifiable. How do I know this fact? When I was the commercial security system product manager for a major American company, we started looking into biometric means of controlling access. These included retina, hand and fingerprint scanners.

During the fingerprint scanner equipment demo, I volunteered to scan mine. The demo showed the fingerprints on a lovely amber CRT. My prints had dozens of tiny, straight scars from being cut so many times. The rep cheerfully quipped, "You better not consider a life of crime with those prints."

Like I said, it isn't a project until blood is shed.

Home first-aid kit contents

You can use what you already have, collect all the components for a first aid kit yourself, or you can buy pre-packaged kits online, like these from  Amazon and  Milwaukee Tools. The advantage of purchasing it the kits generally are contained in a storage container. Things stay organized, handy and safe from workspace debris like sawdust.

Here are the major items in my first-aid kit. You can adapt to fit your preferences.

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Band-aids in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • Gauze pads
  • Medical tape
  • Antibiotic cream or spray
  • Steri-strips
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors

Safety first and always

Taking care of minor cuts, scrapes, dings and other mishaps is important, even if you don't think it is worth worrying over. If the longest journey begins with a single step, it seems to reason that a nasty infection can start with a single germ. That sounds like something Confuscious might say.