How to Treat Wounds and Stop Bleeding
Treating and cleaning deep wounds must be left to medical professionals only, but while waiting for help to arrive, you can still work to reduce bleeding. Apply pressure as described in the preceding section about minor scrapes. If the bleeding shows no sign of subsiding and continues to “gush” profusely, you might have to make a tourniquet. Tourniquets should be used only in life-or-death emergencies. Never use a tourniquet on the head, neck, or chest. Its unrelenting heavy pressure can stop the flow of oxygen to your heart, lungs, and brain—and cause permanent nerve and muscle damage. Tourniquets should only be used as a last resort for pulsing, spraying bleeding that cannot be controlled by direct pressure or elevating the limb. If you take a tourniquet off once you've put it on, bleeding could begin to flow twice as heavily as before. Always write down the time you applied the tourniquet and let the emergency squad know.
As a last resort, follow these steps to make a tourniquet.
- Find a scarf, a piece of cloth, or a sheet that is at least two inches wide. Wrap the material just above the wound three times.
- Tie the ends in a tight half-knot.
- Place a stick, a piece of wood, a pen, a utensil, or anything that is between five and ten inches long directly on the knot.
- Tie the ends of the cloth around the stick item to the tourniquet with a double knot.
- Twist the stick until the bleeding stops or at least decreases to a minor “trickle.” Do not twist any further, as you might do more damage.
- Keep the stick secure with another tourniquet knot or with another piece of cloth.
More on: First Aid
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to First Aid Basics © 1996 by Stephen J. Rosenberg, M.D. and Karla Dougherty. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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