How to Create a Makeshift Splint or Sling in the Field


There’s nothing like spending time outdoors when the weather permits. Hiking, mountain biking, fishing, camping, hunting–the options are endless. Everybody enjoys nature in a different way, but you should always be mindful of your surroundings. When you’re having too much fun, disaster can strike suddenly. If you happen to get injured out in the field, follow these steps to make a splint or sling to minimize the damage until you’re able to receive medical attention.

Examine the Injury

Before you attempt to build a makeshift splint or sling, you must first determine the type of injury you have and its severity. Splints are most appropriate for serious fractures that either protrude from the flesh or don’t. Their purpose is to keep the bones from shifting so as to prevent further injury. Slings, on the other hand, are more commonly used for lesser injuries such as dislocations, sprains, and minor fractures. They suspend a damaged limb in a safer and less painful position. Sometimes both are required to fully stabilize an injury.

Tend to Immediate Concerns First

If your injury involves an open wound, your priority is to control the bleeding. Use clothing, towels, blankets, or other cloth materials to tightly wrap the wound. Once the bleeding has stopped, try to clean the area around the wound to prevent infection. You can flush the wound out with a bottle of water if you don’t have a first aid kit on hand.

Locate the Proper Materials

To make a splint, you’ll need to find something rigid to hold the broken bone in place. Out in the wild, tree branches and bark are the most obvious materials to use for support. Anything that is rigid enough not to bend under the weight of the broken limb should work. For the padding, safety companies in Calgary recommend packing grass or leaves together to form a cushion layer. Finally, the same grass and leaves can be used to wrap everything together. If you have paracord or some form of rope on you, that would be ideal. A sling is much easier to make if you have the resources—the easiest way to go about it is to cut a shirt or tent open. An emergency medical specialist from 911 Industrial Response Inc reports that any piece of large cloth will usually do, so long as it is reasonably clean and sturdy enough to support the injured limb.

Build the Splint or Sling

First, wrap the cushion materials around the fracture. Then, place the support materials around the padding. Finally, secure the support materials to the padding with any string-like materials. The splint can be put into a sling for even greater support. To form the sling, cut open a large piece of cloth, and tie the two corners farthest away from each other together. Throw the knotted part around your neck, and place the broken arm into the loop.

When building the splint around the injury, remember to leave the body part as is. Do not attempt to shift or straighten out any broken bones as that can make things much worse. The splint should also cover the joints above and below the injured area for optimal support.

When you’re out in the wild, anything can happen. Don’t let an unexpected injury threaten your life. By creating a splint or sling, you can preserve the damaged limb and increase your mobility on your way to safety.

Emma is a freelance writer currently living in Boston, MA. Her interests include urban exploration and indoor rock climbing. When not writing, she enjoys reading and baking.

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