How and When to Use a Tourniquet

We’ve all seen the movies where a wounded hero rips a piece of his t-shirt and ties it around a limb to use as a tourniquet. In real life, using a tourniquet this way would almost certainly result in failure and death.

Because of how misunderstood the tourniquet is, many health agencies have started campaigns about proper tourniquet use. This guide is our contribution to the mission.

When Should a Tourniquet Be Used?

Use tourniquets in situations where: – The wound is on a limb – Direct pressure cannot control the     bleeding – When maintaining direct pressure     is not possible (such as in cases     where there are multiple     casualties)

When NOT to Apply a Tourniquet

– Bleeding cannot be controlled by     direct and/or indirect pressure – Snake bites: Contrary to what you     see in movies, tourniquets should     NOT be used on snake bites. This     can trap the venom in one spot     and damage tissue.

Wrap Around Limb

The tourniquet should go around the injured limb, approximately 2 or 3 inches above the bleeding site. Applying close to the wound minimizes the risk of tissue damage. Leave any pressure dressings in place.

Tighten and Secure

Following the instructions of your tourniquet, tighten it until the bleeding stops. Secure the tourniquet in place. Do not cover the tourniquet. It should remain visible to medical responders.

Note the Time

A tourniquet can remain in place for approximately 2 hours with little risk of limb damage and up to 4 hours with a moderate risk of tissue damage.

Check the Tourniquet

The only way to know if a tourniquet is working is to check for a pulse below the tourniquet. If you can still feel a pulse, the tourniquet is not working. A second tourniquet should be applied proximal (above) to the first.