One of the greatest advancements of modern medicine came with the invention of the autoclave. Historically, more people died of infection than died from medical intervention itself. Knowing that the sterilization of surgical instruments, suture needles and cord cutters is of paramount importance, we decided practice this skill now, before we are confronted with the need in less than desirable circumstances.
The first thing that we required were sterilization pouches. Not only are the pouches necessary for sterilizing, they provide a sterile field once the instruments are opened. We bought our pouches through a medical supply house, however, they are available on-line. They come in different sizes, depending on your needs.
After gathering our equipment (shears, rubbing alcohol, sterilization pouches and pressure canner) we did an initial sterilization by submerging the shears in rubbing alcohol. (Alcohol will sterilize an article for up to 24 hours, but requires additional sterilization after that time has elapsed). Once the shears had been dipped in alcohol, they were slid into the sterilization pouches and the pouches were sealed. The next step is the actual autoclaving process.
|Dipping the shears in rubbing alcohol|
|Slid into the sterilization pouch and sealed|
|Pouring water into the autoclave....errr, pressure canner|
|Inside the autoclave|
|Process for 20 minutes at 20 pounds of pressure|
|The guys were a little concerned with the pressure, hence the helmets|
|Removing the pouches from the canner|
We allowed the canner to cool down and removed the lid. Although somewhat moist (we will use even less water next time), the process worked perfectly. We are certain that if we ever have to live a worst-case-scenario lifestyle, we will most certainly need to know how to sterilize surgical instruments. Practicing now will enable us to perform our duties quickly and efficiently when the need arises.
With a few basic items, autoclaving in an off-grid setting is easily accomplished. Although none of want to think of having to perform medical techniques outside of a hospital setting, it is comforting to know that in a pinch, we can. Sterilizing your equipment increases your success rate exponentially - now is the time to learn. With a little knowledge and a pressure canner, you too can make your own off-grid autoclave.