How to make an arm or shoulder sling

Written by james rutter
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How to make an arm or shoulder sling
You can make an emergency sling from cloth or a belt. (Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Broken arms and dislocated shoulders can happen anywhere. In most cases, you can drive the injured person to a hospital or call for an ambulance. But if you're out hiking, camping or hunting, moving someone with an arm or shoulder injury can aggravate these conditions. Making and tying a simple sling will immobilise the arm and shoulder joint until the injured person can receive proper medical care. You can fashion an arm and shoulder sling from a square piece of cloth; in emergency situations, a scarf or belt will suffice.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Cloth
  • Scarf
  • Belt

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Instructions

    Make a Sling with Cloth

  1. 1

    Apply bandages to any open wounds before immobilising the arm with a sling.

  2. 2

    Fold the cloth into a square with a 40-inch length on each side. Fold the square diagonally across itself to form a triangle. This will yield a triangle with approximately a 28-inch base and 20-inch sides.

  3. 3

    Place the injured arm at a 90-degree angle by bending the elbow and hold the arm in place against the injured person's torso.

  4. 4

    Lay the cloth underneath the arm so that the elbow rests at the point of the triangle opposite the longest side, or the top of the triangle.

  5. 5

    Bring one end of the cloth up and around the neck on the left side. Bring the other end of the cloth up and around the neck on the right side.

  6. 6

    Tie these two ends of the cloth together using a square knot. Leave just enough slack so that the arm hangs at a 90-degree angle when the person stands and is walking.

  7. 7

    Immobilise the arm by wrapping another piece of cloth around the injured person's torso and injured upper arm. Tie it with a square knot on the side of the torso opposite the injured arm.

    Make a Sling with a Scarf or Belt

  1. 1

    Place the injured arm at a 90-degree angle by bending the elbow. Hold the arm in place against the injured person's torso.

  2. 2

    Loop the belt or scarf underneath the injured arm at the wrist.

  3. 3

    Bring one end of the scarf or belt up and behind the neck on the left side. Bring the other end up and behind the neck on the right side.

  4. 4

    Tie the two ends of the scarf together in a square knot behind the neck. If using a belt, buckle it behind the neck. Leave only enough slack in the scarf or belt so that the arm remains at a 90-degree angle.

Tips and warnings

  • If you think that the injured person broke her arm, fasten a splint around it first. See the Resource section of this article for the National Institutes of Health's instructions on making an arm splint.
  • If you don't have a cloth, scarf or belt, you can substitute a shirt for the instructions in Section 1. Cradle the arm inside the shirt and tie the sleeves of the shirt behind the neck.
  • The National Institutes of Health advises against moving an injured arm or shoulder if the skin does not look pale or blue or if you cannot feel a pulse at the injured arm's wrist.

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