Having the necessary medical resources after a physical injury can mean the difference between life and death in a survival situation. If you aren’t close to any medical help, your survival could depend on how well you’re able to use the resources around you to your advantage — including various types of plants.

There are thousands of plants you can find in the wild that have medicinal properties, and some of them can be applied topically to treat wounds and injuries with phenomenal effects. Gaining a better understanding of the medicinal properties that some of the most common plants found in the wild have will enable you to use your surroundings to your advantage, helping you treat an injury and ultimately boosting your chance of survival.

The great news is that some highly beneficial plants might be even more common than you think! Each of the 4 plants listed below can be applied topically to treat physical injuries and are relatively (if not very) common throughout the United States. If you’re stuck in the wilderness and get hurt, look around for them!

Plantain

While also the name for that banana-like fruit you see at the supermarket, plantains are also a type of plant. It’s very common, and most people actually think it’s an unruly and annoying weed.

Where to find it: Plantain grows almost anywhere in the United States, in natural and urban settings alike. Look in meadows, lawns, or even between rocks and gravel.

How to identify: The easiest ones to spot will have circular/spoon shaped leaves and feel slightly rubbery. If you decide to use plantain leaves, just make sure you’re not taking it from a place that has possibly been sprayed with pesticides, like the side of the road.

How to use: Crush the leaves with some water (or chew them up) to form a poultice, then put it directly on the wound. You can also keep the leaves whole, soak them in water, and then wrap the leaves around the affected area.

Benefits: Helps keep the injury from getting infected and inflamed. You can use it for any type of injury, but it’s particularly great for treating venomous stings from various creatures like bees, wasps, and even scorpions! It will aid in pulling the venom out of the area. Keep in mind though, it’s generally not strong enough to help treat snakebites.

Read our previous article to find out more about the plantain and all its benefits.

Yarrow

Yarrow is also called “staunchweed” because of its fantastic ability to slow and stop bleeding. It’s medicinal properties are widely recognized, and it’s even been known to be used by soldiers and medics in combat.

Where to find it: Yarrow grows virtually anywhere in the United States, although it’s more likely to be found in meadows, fields, and at the edge of forests.

How to identify: It has a thin stalk with groups of small white flowers. Some variations produce other colors of flowers like yellow or pink, but white is typically the most common. Yarrow usually grows in patches, and is 1 – 2 feet high.

How to use: Crush both the leaves and the flowers to make a poultice, then apply it directly on the wound.

Benefits: Slows down bleeding and prevents infection. It is also antimicrobial. Yarrow is particularly effective for wounds that are freely bleeding and won’t slow, or for fresh injuries to prevent significant blood loss in the first place.

Wild Sage

Sage is useful for much more than just cooking! There are lots of varieties of sage, the majority of which have been used for hundreds of years by Native Americans. The familiar smell may help you identify it, although wild sage is actually not the same as culinary sage.

Where to find it: The plant that people typically associate with the name “sage” is found mostly in the southwestern United States, but there are actually well over 60 different kinds of sage all over the country. Wild sage specifically, also commonly called “white sage,” can be found in western Washington and Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Texas, and even the majority of the midwestern states in the Great Plains region. It thrives in slightly dry/very dry climates and is commonly found in open spaces including meadows, prairies, plains, foothills, and high desert.

How to identify: The leaves are usually green or a white, grayish-green with a slight softness or fuzz to them. When flowering, the flowers bunch in a column and can be shades of purple or blue. It has a naturally appealing spell that can be recognized as a spice from cooking.

How to use: Crush (or chew) to make the leaves into a poultice, then apply directly to the wound. For insect repellant, simply rub the sage leaves themselves onto your skin.

Benefits: Prevents and kills infection when applied to a wound. It’s also a great helper to combine with other medicinal plants to fight off infection! Sage also repels insects when rubbed directly onto skin.

Calendula

Calendulas are nicknamed the “pot marigold,” even though marigolds and calendulas are actually separate types of flowers within the same scientific family. Keep in mind that finding a regular marigold will NOT have the same medicinal effects as an actual calendula flower.

Where to find it: Calendulas prefer sunny places, but can also grow in partial sun. They are commonly found in fields and meadows, and because they grow in almost any soil type, they can be found across the country!

How to identify: The flower is usually a bright yellow or orange and looks similar to a daisy but with more petals. Sometimes it will look similar to a marigold depending on the exact species, but should have fewer petals than a marigold and aren’t bunched as closely together.

How to use: Crush the petals and mix with a little bit of water, or chew up the petals, to make a poultice. Apply directly to the affected area.

Benefits: Helps wounds heal faster by increasing blood flow, which helps scabs form and skin knit back together. It basically encourages new skin growth!

While these four plants are some of the most common medicinal plants you can find in the United States, keep in mind that no plant grows absolutely everywhere. It’s best to know some regionally-specific plants closer to where you live in addition to knowing common plants widely found across the country.

Plantain, yarrow, wild sage, and calendula are so beneficial and commonly found that it’s good to be familiar with them, though, especially since all 4 can help keep you alive if you get hurt in the wilderness and don’t have access to modern medical care. And honestly, they can even help fight infection and stop bleeding if you’re NOT in the wilderness. Plants that are this ridiculously beneficial and easy to use are always worth knowing.

Interested in common edible plants to compliment your knowledge of common plants for treating wounds? Read our previous article here.

If you’re a prepper, you know it’s important to prep for multiple scenarios. You should definitely have a bug-out bag ready to go if you need to leave your home, and you should always have proper survival gear if you’re out in the wilderness. But prepping for being stuck at home is just as important, and may be more likely than other emergency situations.

In a pandemic, natural disaster, an extended power outage or beyond, it’s important to have the supplies you need to survive if you have to hunker down. It’s widely known that stockpiling at least a decent amount of non-perishable food is a good idea, but what else should you include in your stockpile?

This list is for all non-food items that you’d need a decent amount stored up to truly be prepared. Here’s a list of non-food essentials you should keep in bulk supply:

  1. Water: In any form (or multiple ones), make sure you have extra water. Bottles, gallons — even water filters. Keep several water filters just in case.
  2. Medicine: This goes across the board for any type of medicine, but make sure you have extra pain relievers, decongestants, cough drops, flu medicine, and more. If you predict an emergency is coming in advance, try to get several months worth of any prescription medication as well.
  3. Paper products: This includes anything disposable you may use. Toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, and actual paper to write on or use for fires. Make sure you have lots.
  4. Pet food/products: It’s not just you who needs supplies to be prepared! Keep an extra few months of pet food, kitty litter or bedding, and various medications your pet may need. They’re family too.
  5. Feminine products: If forgotten about, this would make for a very terrible length of time. Yes, you could likely make do, but don’t underestimate how quickly you can go through your hygiene products. Remember to plan accordingly if you have multiple people to consider.
  6. Alcohol: Not only would some extra alcohol lying around help pass the time or possibly ease some stress, but it can also be used for lots of other purposes. Make your own hand sanitizer or disinfectant or even use it to numb the pain if you’re injured and need some sort of homemade medical attention. If anything, you can always use it as a tradable good, too.
  7. Batteries: Most people have a battery drawer already, but make sure to stock up on various kinds so you can power all sorts of useful gadgets or tools you may have.
  8. Fire starters/fuel: It’s good to have various options here, just in case. We’d recommend some staples like propane for a camping stove, BIC lighters, lighter fluid, tinder, wood, and charcoal. Fire is a necessity if you’re without power, both for heat and for cooking. Get enough supplies and options to feel comfortable if one way doesn’t end up working or malfunctions for some reason.
  9. Candles and flashlights: The long-lasting candles are what you’d want. And really, any form of light is worth stocking up on. That means candles, flashlights, or even lanterns.
  10. Baby products: Don’t forget to stock lots of diapers or invest in some reusable cloth ones instead. Any sort of baby food or formula is also a necessity.
  11. Cleaner/disinfectant: Anything you’d need to sanitize surfaces and keep yourself from getting sick, you want. And one usually just won’t do. You need cleaners and disinfectants in bulk, including wipes, sprays, and bleach.
  12. Seeds: In the slight chance that our society collapses and grocery stores are closed indefinitely, you should have a variety of seeds to start a garden. Your stockpile will only get you so far, so having a source of food is a necessity. Read our previous article on why heirloom seeds are best for more information.
  13. Soap: It’s obvious that everything should be cleaned, not just your surfaces. Including a bulk supply of soap for hand washing and showering, dish soap, and laundry soap/detergent is a must.
  14. Tarps: Tarps can be a multi-purpose tool for lots of situations. They’re waterproof, they can help hold things together, and they can help transport individuals or objects.
  15. Duct tape and hardware: Having a variety of hardware is definitely of importance. If you’re faced with a leak or repair, you’ll likely have to address it yourself. Stocking up on things like duct tape, nails, screws, and more makes it more likely you’ll be able to fix the smaller problems yourself. While most of us don’t have bigger, professional equipment or resources, having enough of the basics can help you get by. You probably won’t need tools themselves in bulk, but the hardware? Definitely.

If you make sure to have these essentials in your stockpile, you’ll be much more prepared for a survival scenario. A stockpile will be the difference between struggling to survive and being able to provide for yourself when you’re unable to rely on outside help or resources.

While this list is a great starter for bulk supplies (or supplies you’ll at least need multiples of), don’t forget to stockpile single items you might need along with an adequate supply of food.

Society’s digital advancements have definitely made some parts of our lives easier. But when it comes to preparing for the worst, we have to take into consideration a period of time where you may not have a working cell phone, signal, internet connection, or electronic backups.

If you’re looking for a general emergency preparedness rule of thumb, it’s simply this: it’s important to be as prepared as possible for any situation — and that means having physical backups to make sure you always have access to the information you may need. No matter what type of disaster you’re preparing for, having physical copies can be more than simply handy. In some cases, they can be lifesaving.

Here are 7 tools and resources you should make sure to have in physical form, just in case you don’t have access to any working digital signal:

1. A map

The importance of having a map cannot be emphasized enough. GoogleMaps is handy and will help if you have service and a phone, but what if your phone breaks, or it gets lost, or cell service and internet go down? The list goes on, and a map is definitely a necessity. Make sure to have a map of your immediate location and state itself, although having a broader atlas wouldn’t hurt either. Keep in mind that dated editions or versions might not show fully accurate roads and landmarks, so try to have a more recent version if possible.

2. A compass

Having a compass isn’t any new type of survival suggestion, but it’s worth reiterating on this list too. The digital accessibility of today has made information, gadgets, and useful tools abundantly available — including compasses and other survival tools. IF you use the compass app on your phone, great. I’d still recommend having a physical one, though. Not only will a physical compass save your phone’s battery charge, but it will also always work. And that’s something a phone just won’t do.

3. A small collection of reference guides

There’s no way you can know everything — not even everything on a single subject or topic. Carrying a few small reference guides or books on important topics is a great idea for giving yourself a leg up in any survival scenario. It’s also highly beneficial to carry reference guides for areas you aren’t well-versed in. If you’re good at fishing, don’t bother with a fishing guide. Instead, invest in a guide about herbal medicine derived from commonly found plants or one about immediate first aid techniques for various types of injuries.

4. A list of medications, prescriptions, allergies, or other important health information that you may store on your phone or computer

Immediate and tangible medical information will come in handy in an emergency scenario where you’re able to escape to an unaffected location. If you have all of your prescriptions and medical info in hand, you’ll be able to get true medical care much more easily. It can even be lifesaving in emergency situations, making all the difference if you or a member of your family is incapacitated and needs immediate medical care away from home.

5. Phone numbers, addresses, and other contact information for family, doctors, disaster relief companies, etc.

Having a list of contacts and safe spaces, both personal and professional, will help prepare you for any scenario where your phone (and all of the info on it, including your contacts) is out of the picture. It’s very unlikely that you’ll have all of your friends, family, or any potentially helpful contacts’ numbers memorized. Maybe it’s also unlikely that you’ll need all of those phone numbers, but if you’re in a situation where you do need one and you don’t have it? You’d be kicking yourself. Be prepared!

6. Important documents like birth certificates, house deeds, social security cards, and more

While this may take some more preparation, it’s a good idea to have all important documentation you may need in one general space. It will make it easier to gather that information in case of an impending emergency where you may have some advanced notice (albeit maybe a short one), like a wilfire or flood. Oftentimes, these types of documents are forgotten in a panic as a person tries to gather valuables and other survival necessities. If you have the time, including important documents should definitely be on your list.

7. A deck of cards, games, or a book or two.

Books and games can help relieve boredom and improve your mental health, giving you a break from the stress of your situation and allowing you to relax (even if it’s just a little bit). If you’re waiting for help or are in the aftermath of an intense natural disaster that knocks out water, power, or more, you’ll definitely want something to occupy your time.

Digital and electronic copies are definitely not to be forgotten, but there are scenarios or instances where it might not do you justice. If you have a family, the amount of important information you need during a crisis, attack, or disaster can rise exponentially. If you didn’t have access to a working phone or wifi, or the internet goes down altogether, would you be able to remember everything you need? Would you have the proper documentation to get you by?

Each of these are worth keeping in your emergency supply, bug-out bag, or at least easily accessible in case of an emergency — and it’s definitely worth checking or updating once or twice a year.