Top tips on how to use a tourniquet to stop a severe bleed

Mar 8, 2023

Let’s talk about tourniquets: it’s heard that if you are using one, it means deciding between life and limb. This is not the case! Modern tourniquets can be safely applied for up to two hours, with little or no negative effect. If you’re reading this blog, then you’ll want to know top tips on how to use a tourniquet to stop a severe bleed and what to choose. Stay tuned as we take you through the steps and what to do next…

Firstly it’s key to remember that if you don’t have a tourniquet to hand, apply direct pressure to stop a bleed as it only takes up to five minutes for a person to bleed out. It’s our mission to educate, equip and empower the public with the tools and knowledge they need to stop a severe bleed in any scenario, at any skill level. A zero responder defines a person who is the first at the scene, before any emergency services arrive. That could be any one of us; whether it’s waiting at a bus stop, doing our weekly grocery shop, or attending a concert. No matter how fast the emergency services arrive, it’s the bystander who becomes the first responder.

How to apply a tourniquet:

  • Start by simply opening the band and place the limb inside the loop of the tourniquet.
  • The tourniquet then must be secured as tightly as possible, this is done by fully opening up the band and then pulling as tightly as you can. Take any slack out of the tourniquet.
  • The self-adhering band then must be wrapped around as much as possible.
  • From here, you can begin to stop the bleed by tightening the tourniquet with the windlass rod. It should only take two to five turns if the tourniquet has been secured tightly.
  • Once you see the bleed stop, secure the windlass with the windlass clip on the tourniquet.
  • Take any of the left over tail of the band and secure it in the windlass clip. Then secure the tail and the windlass rod with the securing strap across the clip.
  • As a last step, if you have something to write with, place the time you applied the tourniquet on the strap. If not, note the time and relay to first responders when they arrive.

Watch a full tutorial below: 

Top tips when applying a tourniquet:

We recommend that when choosing your tourniquet, you use one that has been recommended by the committee on tactical combat casualty care. 

Make sure the tourniquet is high and tight: Never apply a tourniquet over a joint, place it above or below the joint. This is because it won’t control bleeding as sufficiently as other areas of the limb. Some people advise to place it two to three inches above the wound. Alternatively, military and law enforcement teach it to be applied ‘high and tight’, meaning as high as possible on the limb. If you don’t tighten the tourniquet, the arteries may continue to bleed as they are thicker and under more pressure. 

Applying a second tourniquet:

  • If the tourniquet has been applied securely and the bleeding still hasn’t stopped, you can apply a second tourniquet.
  • Apply a second tourniquet next to the existing tourniquet in the same method as above. Two tourniquets are often needed for larger limbs.
  • If a second tourniquet isn’t available, apply pressure to the wound.

How to use a tourniquet to stop a severe bleed

What to do next

Once a tourniquet is applied, leave it on. Do not loosen a tourniquet once it has been applied. Paramedics will remove the tourniquet once it’s appropriate to do so. If you are looking for appropriate first aid supplies, we recommend the TyTek Medical Bleeding Control Pouch, which is designed to wear on your belt or keep in your vehicle allowing full mobility when it is needed most; packed for speed of access.

For more information, check out our Education Hub on the link below which features our educational videos, featuring short ‘How To’ guides that take you through various methods of bleed control. If you are interested in learning more on how to stop a severe bleed, then sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date on our workshops. 

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