Para-cord, also called 550 cord and/or parachute cord, is a lightweight nylon rope, and is an extremely versatile material, which of course makes it an excellent item to have in your survival kit. Perhaps the most important use is emergency para-cord usages, the type of situations which could tragically result in permanent injury or even death. Originally used as parachute guide lines, airborne troops quickly realized the potential for emergency para-cord usages while being forced to improvise when treating injured soldiers.
As stated there are numerous, maybe 50 or 60 uses for para-cord in a survival situation, but we’ll discuss six emergency para-cord usages as they are the most critical. Becoming severely wounded in the wilderness is as serious as it gets and no matter how careful you are serious injuries are always one step away. Step on a rock which suddenly gives way causing you to fall on a dead branch and you suddenly incur a deep laceration to your arm, or something as remote as being attacked by an animal leaving deep claw wounds. Doesn’t matter … it happens and this is where knowing emergency para-cord usages can save your life.
Emergency Para-Cord Usages One: Sutures
A regular sewing needle can be used if no suture needle is available
The idea of threading a needle in and out of your skin is rather nauseating to me, but in order to stop massive blood loss and to reduce the risk of infection, suturing a deep wound may be your only choice. If you are lucky you’ll have a suture kit with you, but Murphy’s Law usually prevails and you didn’t pack it or lost it along the trail. This is when you use para-cord for the sutures.
Peel the outer casing of the para-cord away exposing the inner strands, which are small enough and strong enough to suture the wound closed. Pull a strand or two out, the longer the better, and thread it through a suture needle. If you have ever darned socks or watched your grandmother sew clothes, this is the exact method you want to use for threading the needle. Leave a long tail and tie a knot in the end, a double knot may be better as you don’t want to pull the knot through the skin.
If you have a hemostat use it to hold the needle for sanitary reasons. I only mention this because you may have one, but doubtful if your suture kit is AWOL. Sterilize the needle and your hands the best as possible.
Begin at the middle of the open wound, @ a ½ centimeter (@1/4 inch) away from the opening and push the needle into the skin. It will exit inside the wound, push the needle through the skin from the inside, exiting through the outside of the wound. Pull the thread taunt closing the wound together. Do not overlap the skin, only touching. Continue this process until reaching the end of the wound. Using the needle interlace the string creating a knot and cut off any excess string. Repeat the entire process beginning at the middle of the wound and working the opposite direction until the wound is totally closed.
Starting at the middle of the wound and working in halves instead of end to end allows you more control of the suturing process. Remember, you’re not a surgeon who knows the exact amount of pressure to exert to close but not rip through the skin, you will be bleeding making it difficult to see, and you’ll be hurting like hell.
Emergency Para-Cord Usages Two: Slings
Substitute shown cloth strap with para-cord
Lacerations are not the only severe injury possibility. Possibly just as serious and more disabling is a dislocation of an arm or shoulder. A fall, it doesn’t have to be from a great height, where you land awkwardly can result in a dislocation of a joint, a severely painful injury. For instance a shoulder dislocation will require restricted movement in order to help alleviate the pain and lessen the chances of further damage, and a sling is the best possible method for achieving this.
Using a knife, cut strips of clothing, jacket, extra shirt, extra socks, whatever you can use for cushioning between the para-cord and the skin. Wrap the cushioning around the wrist, and secure it by tying a slip knot around the wrist. Pull the para-cord around your neck, placing cushioning between it and the skin, and gently pull it taunt until the arm is in the least possible painful position. Tie the para-cord off at the elbow in order to secure the positioning. You can double or triple the roping in order to add additional strength.
Emergency Para-Cord Usages Three: Splints
Broken or fractured bones can not only be painful, but can leave you totally immobilized which compounds the severity of your already bad situation. Although not life threatening, under normal circumstances, not being able to move hinders rescue and exposes you to other risks of hypothermia, heat exhaustion or dehydration. You must regain your mobility and splinting the broken limb will hopefully allow you to achieve that. Let’s use the example of a broken leg.
Locate one, two will be better, stout tree limbs or other solid objects that can restrict movement. Place extra clothing or other cushioning material like spruce or cedar limbs on the ground where the leg is broken. Place the stout stick(s) along the injured portion of the leg. Wrap the para-cord around the entire area and tie taunt to keep it in place. Do not over tighten and cut off blood circulation. The splint will restrict any bone movement as the result of traveling, lessening the pain you’ll have to endure. It’ll still hurt, but will enable you limited movement which may be all you need for rescue. Use a walking stick to help maintain balance and take weight off the injured leg.
Emergency Para-Cord Usages Four: Tourniquets
We don’t like to recognize the fact that we may someday be faced with an unimaginable decision of dying or losing a limb, but reality is reality and we must know how to address the issue should we be faced with it. If we were to incur an arterial wound where stopping the bleeding is impossible without drastic action, and we must stop it somehow or we will quickly bleed out and die. A tourniquet is the last, but best method of accomplishing that goal.
Locate an area above the wound, closest to the heart, wrap the para-cord around the limb twice in order to not cut the skin as you tighten the tourniquet defeating the purpose, and tie a knot. Insert a stick through the knot and begin twisting the rope tight until the blood flow stops. Depending on the situation, either tie the stick off where you don’t have to hold it in order to move, or hold it tight in order to occasionally release the pressure in order to try and save the limb.
Time is of the essence. Delay too long and blood loss will result in loss of consciousness and will result in death.
Emergency Para-Cord Usages Five: Makeshift Stretcher
Should you find yourself in a group situation and one of the party incurs an injury or illness that prevents them from being able to move on their own, you’ll need to make a stretcher in order to carry the person.
The military motto “Leave no man behind” is based on reality not just moral character. Why not leave the person and bring help back? An injured person left on their own runs the increased risks of hypothermia, dehydration, heat exhaustion and attack by wild animals which increases exponentially. Never split up the group or leave a person behind.
In order to make a para-cord stretcher begin by unrolling the para-cord onto the ground and locating the middle. Lay the rope out in an S configuration, all of equal lengths. Using two strong tree limbs, or other suitable material for handles, thread the sticks between the S loops. Using small pieces of rope tie these loops together where the limb passes through. Make the stretcher as narrow as possible because the weight of the person will stretch the para-cord.
Emergency Para-Cord Usages Six: Life Saving Life Line
The danger of drowning is always a possibility while fishing for food, crossing a river or walking on ice which turns out to be too thin to support your weight, as well as the notoriously deadly quicksand. These situations are not only potentially life threatening but are also Time Critical.
Para-cord can be used to quickly create an emergency rescue line. Grab something that will float, a stick, cooler lid, empty plastic soda bottle with lid, and tie a figure 8 knot around it. This offers a floating target for the endangered person to visibly see and reach, and allows weight for additional throwing distance. When the person is in moving water always throw the rescue line 4 to 5 feet upstream from the struggling person in order for it to float down to the person. In still water or mired in quicksand, throw the line directly to the person.
These are but six examples of emergency para-cord usages that can save a person’s life. It’s a versatile handy piece of equipment which should maintain a permanent spot in your survival kit. As matter of opinion, emergency para-cord usages is a prime example of thinking and researching outside the box. The average person would not have known all six of these potential life saving techniques, and there are numerous other examples of such products and materials available which have special and unique resources.
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