A tourniquet is a device used to stop heavy bleeding in an emergency situation. The typical tourniquet is composed of a compressing band and a stick component. It works by applying enough pressure at the site of the injury to control the bleeding. However, in some emergency situations, there is no tourniquet on hand. In these cases, you have to make one on the spot. While it is not the best form of a tourniquet, a belt can be used to temporarily slow bleeding until an emergency professional can get there.
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Things you need
Assess the situation. Depending on the area of the body that is bleeding and the rate at which blood is being lost, determine where and how much pressure needs to be placed to stop the victim from bleeding out.
Place some form of padding, such as a sleeve or pant leg, approximately 2 to 4 inches from the wound site, where the belt will then be applied. It should be placed between the wound and the heart. Blood flows to and from the heart, so it is crucial to apply pressure from this direction. The padding helps to ensure that skin is not pinched or twisted when the tourniquet is applied.
Place the belt around the limb at the site of the padding. Again, this needs to be 2 to 4 inches from the site of the wound, and it needs to be between the wound and the heart.
Tighten the belt to the point that there is enough pressure applied that the blood flow significantly slows or ceases.
Stay with the victim until emergency professionals arrive to monitor the makeshift tourniquet. It is important to ensure that the belt retains constriction and does not slip loose.
Tips and warnings
- To minimise skin damage, ensure that the belt is at least 2 inches wide.
- A tourniquet should only be used in the event that a pressure dressing is not sufficient to stop the bleeding or a limb has been cut off. This is because tourniquets can injure blood vessels and nerves. Tourniquets can also cause tissue damage to the site of the wound.
- Tourniquets should be used with caution, because if left in place for too long, they can actually cause the loss of a limb.
- A tourniquet should never be loosened or removed once it has been put in place and the bleeding has stopped because it can enhance the risk of shock. Wait for an emergency professional to arrive.
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