How to Use a Tourniquet Correctly

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Tourniquets are a type of fastener used to completely block blood flow to a wound. To control bleeding after a limb injury, the tourniquet should ideally be used only by first-aiders trained in emergency first aid. Knowing when (and when not) to use tourniquets to control bleeding can be difficult to determine.

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When to use

Even when used correctly, tourniquet complications can lead to serious tissue damage. However, in the event of severe bleeding and a life-or-death emergency, using a tourniquet properly is an effective way to stop bleeding and keep the injured person stable until they receive appropriate medical care.

Emergencies that may require a civilian to use a tourniquet include car accidents, gunshot wounds, deep cuts or crushed limbs related to work injuries.

Most people will never find themselves in a situation where they need to use a commercial tourniquet. However, if you ever find yourself in one of these situations, knowing how to use a tourniquet properly can save someone’s life.


If you are a first responder or emergency medical professional, you may have access to commercial tourniquets. However, if you are a civilian that has experienced an emergency, you will not have a tourniquet available and will need to improvise.

Remember – the most important priority is your own safety. Before administering first aid, make sure it is safe to do so.

Research has shown that improvised tourniquets are effective up to 60% of the time. While that may sound reassuring, as long as you have the necessary documentation and knowledge to use an improvised tourniquet correctly in an emergency, any attempt to stop bleeding would be better than doing nothing.

To assemble an improvised tourniquet, you will need two parts: a triangular ribbon and something you can use as a winch, such as a stick. Other items you may have on hand that can be used include belts, shirts, or towels.

In an emergency situation, especially those involving bodily fluids like blood, make sure to take general precautions. If you have personal protective equipment, bring it with you before you begin first aid.


Anyone can apply the tourniquet. While you don’t need any formal or special medical training or certification, you do need to understand how to use it properly.

The first step you should take in any emergency is to call 911 to notify emergency services. If someone else is with you, give them the task of calling 911 while you care for the injured person.

Tourniquets for limb injuries and Cannot be used for head or torso injuries. Injuries to the head or torso that require pressure with blood-sucking material to slow or stop bleeding.

Using the tourniquet is only for buying time to buy time while you wait for the medical staff to arrive. If a person is bleeding profusely and there is no help available, they may bleed before first responders can arrive and provide needed medical care.

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By applying a tourniquet, your goal is to limit blood flow to the injured limb to avoid life-threatening blood loss. While constricting the limb to cut off its blood supply is a temporary measure, when done properly, it slows or stops the bleeding enough to give rescuers time to get to the scene.

Click Play to learn how to apply the right tourniquet

Find the source

Before placing the tourniquet, you need to determine the source of the bleeding. In some cases, such as a proximal or complete amputation, it may be obvious. Other injuries may not be visible at first, especially if debris, debris, torn clothing, or other objects obstruct your vision.

If possible, have the injured person lie down so you can assess them from head to toe. Try to stay calm and focused, as you’ll need to find the cause of the bleeding as quickly as possible.

Apply pressure

Once you’ve identified the source, start by applying it directly to the wound to control bleeding. If the bleeding doesn’t stop or doesn’t stop under pressure, you’ll need to find (or fasten) the tourniquet.

If the injured person is awake and alert, tell them that you will use tourniquets for their wound. Unfortunately, the process of applying the tourniquet can be extremely painful and the person may already be in a lot of pain. Let the person know that applying a tourniquet will hurt but it can save their life if not.

Next, cut, tear, or remove clothing near the wound. Garo needs to be applied to bare skin.

Tourniquet locator

Place the cloth, towel, or other material used to hang the limb a few inches above the wound. You will want to place the tourniquet on the limb closest to the heart. For example, if the injury is below the knee or elbow, you will need to tie the tourniquet above the joint.

Use a regular square knot (like tying your shoelaces, but not making a bow) to tie the checkerboard around the limb.

The Red Cross recommends setting the tourniquet to 2 inches above the wound and never directly on a joint.

One more Winch

You will need a stick or other item strong enough to act as a winch. The winch is a lever that can be used to tighten the throttle. Anything can be used as a winch, as long as it is sturdy enough to hold the garage and can be fixed in place. Consider using a pen or pencil, stick or spoon.

Place your winch on the knot you created, then tie the loose ends of the tourniquet around it using another square knot.


Start twisting the windshield to increase the pressure. Monitor bleeding and note when bleeding slows. Continue to rotate the windshield until the bleeding stops or is significantly reduced.

Once the bleeding has slowed or stopped, secure the windshield by tying one or both ends to the injured person’s arm or leg.

Time it

Tourniquets can only be applied for certain periods of time – no more than two hours.Therefore, it is very important that first-aiders and medical personnel treating injuries know when you have placed the tourniquet.

If possible, mark a “T” with the date and time you placed the tourniquet on the person’s forehead or another area conspicuous by emergency personnel.


One tour should never be loosened or removed by anyone other than a physician in the emergency department.

Common mistake

Even if you know how to use the tourniquet properly, mistakes can still happen. In an emergency, you may not have enough help or resources, and you may experience a lot of distractions.

The following are possible errors to be aware of when setting the tourniquet:

  • Waiting too long: You must deal with severe bleeding immediately for the tourniquet to succeed. When an injured person loses too much blood, they can go into shock.
  • Loose application: Loose tourniquets are not effective because they cannot constrict arterial blood flow sufficiently.
  • The second tourniquet does not apply: One tour is usually enough to control severe bleeding, however, a person with large arms may require a second tour.
  • Easing: Tightening and loosening the garo instead of continuously allowing blood to pool in the wound. If blood flows back into the wound, it can damage the blood vessels.
  • Leave it for too long: The tourniquet should not be left for longer than two hours. When applied for a long time, tourniquets can cause permanent damage to muscles, nerves and blood vessels.
  • Using the wrong material: Unsuitable materials, such as wire, can cut into the skin. Not only will this make the tourniquet ineffective, but it can also cause more pain or lead to further injury.

The best way to prevent mistakes is to be informed about the use of the tourniquet and to practice proper tourniquet technique.

Tourniquets in First Aid Kit

A 2018 study, reported in Journal of the American College of Surgeons, asserts that tourniquets can and do, save lives — even when used by civilians. For the study, the researchers sought to determine the effect of civilian use of tourniquets on mortality.

When the civilian population applied the tourniquet before hospitalization, the risk of death was six times lower in patients with peripheral vascular trauma (extremity trauma).

Although they work in an emergency, commercial tourniquets are not available in first aid kits. This is mainly because tourniquets should only be used in the worst case scenario when there are no other options, as there are often other ways to control enough blood in most injuries.

However, in an emergency situation, a commercial tourniquet will take precedence over a custom tourniquet. Tourniquets for commercial use are made from recommended materials and specifications, making them more efficient and easier to use. Commercial tourniquets are also more suitable to minimize the risk of use.

You can add tourniquets to your home first aid kit, as the items commonly found in this kit may not be enough to help in the event of severe bleeding. If you work with or care for people who are most at risk of bleeding injuries or serious bleeding complications, such as young children and the elderly, you should have the tourniquet and knowledge ready to use. properly used.

Whether you’re a medical professional, first aider, student or parent, knowing how to use a tourniquet can be a life-saving skill.

For emergencies: How to book a Tourniquet

Sometimes emergencies happen and you may not be able to pick up the tourniquet in time. In such cases, a temporary tourniquet may be needed to help control the bleeding and the situation.

frequently asked Questions

  • Can I use a belt as a checkerboard?

    It’s not ideal. The belt is too stiff to be twisted with a winch. Other items that aren’t suitable for checkers are ties, because they’re too thin and zippers can potentially cause severe pain and nerve damage.

  • How long can it take to permanently damage a limb?

    Approximately two hours. At that point, a lot of harm can happen, including nerve damage, blood vessel damage, and skin necrosis (death of skin cells). After six hours, there is a chance that muscle tissue is so damaged that amputation of the affected limb is necessary.

  • How fast should the tourniquet be set?

    It’s best not to garnish right away. First, apply absorbent material directly to the wound for at least 10 minutes. It is the time it takes for the blood to clot and the bleeding to stop. If not, then a tourniquet should be used.

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