When thinking about survival we often think about the big things, food, water, and shelter. These things are important, but sometimes, it can be the little things that actually take us down. In today’s edition of West Weekly, we are going to talk about feet. Some people hate them, some people fetish on them, but these two important parts of your body are a place where injury can be overlooked, and in a survival situation, those injuries can become devastating.
Now, I’m not suggesting your feet will become a silent killer like a heart attack. I am suggesting however that injuries to your feet in certain survival and disaster situations can go largely unnoticed, so much so to the point of having a critical injury. Damage to your feet can seriously limit your mobility, and of course, mobility is an extremely important part of increasing your chances for survival and success in a disaster situation.
With your feet, there are some important things you need to remember. Let’s start by talking about wet weather conditions. When skin gets wet and stays wet it becomes very easy to injure it. This is very true for your feet. This can mean easily forming blisters on your heels and toes. The second negative property of this wetness is often a lack of ability to discern there is a problem. Wet wrinkled feet have a different feeling than your feet typically have, and therefore it is difficult to tell if you have developed a blister, split the skin, or have a sore developing. This situation can cause you to ignore blisters that are there, and ultimately break the skin on those. Wet skin is more pliable, but not impervious, and damage to the skin typically can’t be felt until that skin dries out. The final, and worst part about wet skin is the ease of development of bacteria. Much of this bacteria is probably already there on your feet or in your shoes, and the wet environment simply creates a perfect breeding ground for it. This means those skin breaks, sores, and blisters suddenly become a perfect place to start an infection, and as you may already know infections on the feet can be particularly invasive and aggressive.
The next hazard comes from the same general problem, but different conditions. The second hazard is heat. Heat can actually have two different effects on the body. In hot environments, you are more likely to sweat, and with tight binding shoes, or socks that do not have wicking properties or are too thick, you create the same wet environment that we described above, with one worse caveat. With the increase in temperature, you also increase the ability for bacteria to thrive and increase your chances of developing an infection.
The heat has a second way that it can assist in injuring your feet, and this often becomes obvious when you examine your feet. When wearing open shoes or very airy shoes you open your feet to excessive drying. Over a period of days and sometimes even hours your feet can dry and begin cracking, opening up what will eventually become painful crevices, especially on calluses and other harder parts of your feet. Sometimes, the two situations can combine and create a terrible mess that is hard to deal with and particularly painful. Nothing is worse than having a breakout or infection between your toes because of excessive sweat, while your heels are dry and cracked and in some cases bleeding.
Finally, another important weather feature to consider, the cold. When it is cold your feet lose their feeling, and as a result of this, you likely won’t know that you have an injury. Wet conditions and dry conditions can both occur in the cold, and ultimately pair up to create a disaster with your feet.
This problem introduces us to the real point of this article. Check your feet, every day. In a survival or disaster situation knowing the condition of your feet tells you if you have a problem. Are you wearing the wrong shoes? Are you not keeping your feet warm enough? Do you have the right socks? Are you letting your feet stay wet too long? Know the answers to these questions, and if you find problems you can solve them. Solving these problems means keeping your feet safe, your body healthy, and removing one of those small things that could become your downfall.
Thank you for reading, and until next time, stay safe!