How to Stop a Bleeding Wound

To stop a bleeding wound, some first-aid knowledge is necessary. Bleeding can range from mild to severe, and needs to be stopped as quickly and efficiently as possible. For moderate or severe bleeding, you'll need to control bleeding until the person can get medical attention. Here are some effective ways to treat wounds and control bleeding.

Types of Bleeding
Bleeding may originate from one of three sources: an artery, a vein or a capillary. 

  • Bleeding from a capillary oozes slowly. It usually doesn't require medical attention, although the wound must be closely watched for signs of infection.
  • Bleeding from a vein is dark and steady. If the wound cuts straight across the vein, the vein will eventually collapse, making the bleeding easier to control. If the wound cuts along the vein, bleeding will continue until medical help is provided.
  • Bleeding from an artery can be identified by spurts of bright red blood that occur with each beat of the heart. This is severe and life-threatening bleeding that requires immediate medical attention. If the person is far from medical help, you may need to clamp the artery or use a tourniquet. 

Ways to Stop Bleeding
Apply and hold direct pressure on the bleeding wound. Use a cloth or gloves if possible, to avoid direct contact with another person's blood. Hold the pressure on the wound for at least 15 minutes before checking it.

If there is an object in the wound, apply pressure around, rather than on the object. Do not attempt to remove the object; doing so could make the bleeding much more severe.

If blood soaks through the dressing, layer another dressing on top of it and continue to apply pressure. Avoid peeking during the 15 minutes, because disturbing the wound will cause more bleeding. If the bleeding continues after 15 minutes, elevate the wound above heart level and apply pressure again. Do not do this if a broken bone could be the cause of the bleeding.

Put a pressure bandage over the wound. This is more than a dressing, it's a gauze roll or long bandage that's wrapped around the wound with pressure to hold the dressing on it. Be careful not to cut off circulation with too much pressure. You can check the pulse to be sure it's steady after applying the pressure bandage. Also check the fingers and toes for a bluish color, which will indicate the circulation is impeded.

Using a Tourniquet
If a person is suffering from arterial bleeding and far from help, you will need to use a tourniquet to stop bleeding. Before you take this step, try using a pressure point to control bleeding. Add pressure to the inside of the wrist or upper arm for an arm or hand injury, or where the leg meets the groin for a foot or leg injury. Combine pressure on the pressure points with pressure on the wound. Again, use 15 minute intervals.

If this does not stop the bleeding, a tourniquet is a last resort. Be aware that applying a tourniquet is likely to result in severe tissue damage to the limb. In many cases, using a tourniquet results in the limb being amputated. This treatment should only be considered if there is a real risk of the injured person bleeding to death before reaching medical help.

A tourniquet needs to be made from material that won't stretch, such as canvas, or denim. Cut or fold the material into a strip that is 2 inches wide by 24 inches long, longer if you need to get around the upper leg.

Tie the tourniquet onto the affected limb at least two inches above the wound, using a basic slip knot. Next, use a square knot or double slip knot to attach a stick, a small rod, a long wrench or any similar, durable object above the original knot.

Twist the object until the bleeding stops. Once the bleeding stops, do not apply additional pressure. Tie the object in place on the injured limb so that it can't unwind. Get medical attention immediately.

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