How to use a triangle bandage

Written by elizabeth otto
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How to use a triangle bandage
Triangle bandage as an arm sling. (George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

A triangle bandage is a multifunctional first aid tool. Standard triangle bandages are made from muslin and are about 40 inches long; however, you can make your own from any strong fabric (cotton, for example). Triangle bandages are an essential part of any first aid kit. They can, among other things, provide support to a broken limb, help control minor bleeding from cuts and scrapes, and act as an arm sling.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Triangle bandages

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    For a Broken Upper Arm

  1. 1

    Lay the triangle bandage on the ground in a triangle shape. Fold the point of the triangle in to the horizontal edge of the bandage. Fold the bandage twice so you have a 2- to 3-inch strip of fabric. Repeat with another triangle bandage so you have two strips.

  2. 2

    Instruct the person with the suspected broken arm to place her arm against her side if possible. You'll use her torso as a splint to help prevent further damage to the arm. This technique is effective for fractures between the elbow and shoulder.

  3. 3

    Gently lay one triangle bandage strip on the arm, slightly above the pain. Bring the bandage around the patient's body toward the other arm. Tie the ends of the bandage around the body beneath the good arm. Ensure the bandage is snug but not too tight. Repeat with the second bandage below the pain on the injured arm.

  4. 4

    Inspect the fingers on the hand of the patient's injured arm. Check to ensure the fingers are still a pink or normal colour; blue or pale pinched fingers are a sign the bandages are too tight. Loosen the bandages if needed and inspect the fingers again.

    For Minor Bleeding

  1. 1

    Make a square bandage. Place a triangle bandage onto a clean surface. Fold the point of the bandage toward the horizontal edge until they touch. Fold the left long side of the bandage in until the end touches the middle of the bandage. Repeat with the right end. Fold the bandage in half lengthwise. Fold in the width to make a square.

  2. 2

    Place the folded triangle bandage over the source of bleeding. This works well for minor cuts and scrapes on the arms, legs, torso, back or head. Apply gentle but steady pressure on the cut for five minutes or until you suspect the bleeding has stopped.

  3. 3

    Fold another triangle bandage into a strip by rolling the bandage. Gently place the strip over the square bandage and tie loosely to hold the square bandage in place. Tie the strip bandage only enough to secure the square bandage. Slip two fingers beneath the strip bandage to ensure it's loose; check it often.

    As a Sling

  1. 1

    Place the injured arm in the middle of a triangle bandage, with the triangle point facing the patient's elbow. Bring the long end of the bandage closest to your patient's chest over the shoulder of the uninjured arm.

  2. 2

    Bring the other bandage end over the shoulder of the injured arm. Gently tie the loose ends of the bandage behind the patient's neck. The arm should now be cradled in the triangle bandage. This technique works well for fractures of the lower arm or shoulder injuries.

  3. 3

    Ensure the patient's arm is as comfortable as possible. Lower or raise the sling by loosening or tightening the ends of the sling behind the patient's neck.

Tips and warnings

  • Always call 9-1-1 in an emergency.
  • Don't use bandages on broken bones that are sticking out of the skin. Call for medical help.
  • Don't delay medical care if someone has severe bleeding. Call 9-1-1 and then administer first aid.

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