Worst-Case Scenarios: How to Handle Them

How to Inflate a Punctured Inner Tube

When Dave Dybczynski got a flat tire while cycling he was 10 miles from the nearest town and had no replacement tube. Proving that where there's a wheel there's a way, Dybczynski flattened a PowerBar wrapper, wrapped it one time around the punctured part of the inner tube, and knotted it in place, with the knot facing the rim. He then pumped up the tube, which stayed inflated for the remainder of the ride -- plus a full two weeks afterward. A dollar bill might also be sturdy enough to use as a patch, Dybczynski said.

Another option is filling the space the inflated tube normally occupies with leaves and grass to protect the rim and make riding possible for a limited time.

How to Keep Your Head When You've Lost Your Bearings

So, you've wandered deep into the woods without a map or a compass, and the trail of breadcrumbs you were counting on to lead you back out has been eaten by squirrels. Edible escape route notwithstanding, let's assume you've got a head on your shoulders and apprised at least one other living soul--your spouse, roommate, co-worker, friendly neighborhood barista--of your travel plans and estimated return time.

Presumably, that person will notify authorities when you fail to return, and a search and rescue team will be dispatched.

Meanwhile, you should stop and assess your circumstances. Every situation is different, "but painting with a broad brush, I'd say staying put is the best course of action" and likely will hasten your rescue, said Tim Kovacs of the Mountain Rescue Association, serving the Western United States.

Exposure is your biggest threat, so find shade or make shelter. Taking this decisive first step will put you in a calmer mindset, Kovacs said. If you take refuge in an area likely to be overlooked by rescuers, use branches and whatever else is on hand to form an arrow pointing to your whereabouts.

These actions will warm you, so perform them first before building a fire. (Fires tend to induce inactivity.) Drink the water you have when you are thirsty. Rationing could lead to dehydration, which clouds thinking.

The sound of an aircraft doesn't necessarily signal the end of your ordeal. Your first impulse might be to stand up and wave your arms, but when viewed from above, "that's not a very effective visual target," Kovacs pointed out. "Lying down and moving your extremities in a snow-angel maneuver might look goofy, but it could save your butt."

Basic Survival Skills

Even if you are facing a worst-case scenario, a little bit of knowledge can keep you safe until help arrives.

External bleeding
The rapid loss of a quart or more of blood can lead to shock and death.

TREATMENT: Protect hands with clean plastic bags or several layers of gauze if latex gloves aren't available. Remove clothing from the wounded area. Place a clean cloth on the wound and apply pressure with the palm of your hand. Elevate the wound above the victim's heart if possible to slow the bleeding. If the blood soaks through, do not remove the cloth. Apply additional cloth instead.

Do not remove dressings once the bleeding has stopped as doing so could disturb the clotting. If direct pressure and elevation don't stop the blood flow, apply pressure to the major pressure point that's nearest to the wound (on the inside of the upper arm between the shoulder and elbow or in the groin area where the leg meets the crotch). A tourniquet will cut off the blood supply completely, which can result in limb loss, and should not be applied unless the victim is in imminent danger of bleeding to death.

A dislocation occurs when the end of a bone separates from the joint.

TREATMENT: Do not attempt to pop the bone back into its socket. Medical personnel may need to administer anesthesia to reposition the joint, so do not allow the victim to eat or drink. Without moving the affected area, remove clothing from the injury by cutting if necessary.

Make a splint by placing supportive objects (boards, sticks, rolled towels or trekking poles, for example) on both sides of the injured area, making sure the supports extend above and below the injury.

Broken bones
In a simple or closed fracture, the broken bone is not visible through the skin, and there is no skin wound near the fracture site. In a compound or open fracture, a bone may separate partially or completely from the other half and may protrude through the skin.

TREATMENT: For an open fracture, treat for bleeding and then immobilize the injured area with a splint or sling. Do not try to set a broken bone or push a protruding bone back under the skin. If there is no open wound, ice may be applied to the injured area to reduce swelling and inflammation. Aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be administered for pain.

Reprinted, courtesy of Windy City Sports Magazine. For more articles and information for Windy City Sports, please visit www.windycitysports.com.

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