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Slings are used to immobilise, support and protect any part of the body that has been injured. They are most often used to promote the proper healing of a broken or dislocated arm or shoulder. Slings are available to buy in a range of shapes and fabrics, however, it is relatively easy to make a simple triangle sling using a square or rectangular piece of cloth. Always care for wounds and apply a splint, if needed, before attempting to fit a sling.
Find a suitable rectangle of fabric. If you don't have a piece of cloth that is large enough, improvise with a pillowcase, sheet or towel. You can even use a shirt or coat.
Cut the cloth to size if required, and fold or cut diagonally to make a triangle. Start with a smaller rectangle if the sling is for a child.
Slip one end of the sling under the injured person's arm so their elbow is at the top point of the triangle, and their wrist midway along the triangle's bottom edge.
Bring the two free corners up around the front and back of the opposite shoulder, cradling the arm.
Tie or pin the two ends securely together, ensuring that the injured arm is supported at a right angle.
- To make sure the injured arm is completely secure, fasten the edge of the sling, near the elbow, with a safety pin and/or tie the sling to the body with another piece of cloth wrapped around the chest.
- Seek professional medical help immediately if there is a dislocation, broken bones or severe bleeding.
- Do not attempt to realign an injured limb unless the skin looks pale or blue or there is no pulse.
- Loosen or adjust the bandage if the person's skin becomes cool, turns pale or blue, or if the patient complains of numbness or tingling. This could be a sign of nerve pressure or loss of circulation.
- This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.
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