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How to Apply a Tourniquet


Applying a tourniquet correctly when someone has suffered severe bleeding is essential for saving their life, even in emergency situations where medical help may not be nearby.

Prior to applying a tourniquet, it is essential to identify the source of bleeding. This is especially true for limb injuries that cannot be easily seen or located.

A tourniquet is an inexpensive tool that can help stop severe bleeding. While they may not be suitable for all injuries, when applied correctly, they have the potential to save lives.

  • Establish the Source of the Bleeding

First responders must identify the source of bleeding before applying a single use tourniquet. This is especially critical if there has been either close to or total limb amputation; otherwise, you may not notice the wound at first glance if there’s debris, wreckage, shredded clothing, or other things in your path.

Ideally, your injured person should lie down so you can assess them from head to toe and identify the injury as soon as possible. Doing this will enable you to focus and remain calm while the bleeding continues.

  • Apply Direct Pressure

Once you’ve identified the source of the bleeding, direct pressure can be used to attempt to control it. This is typically the first-line treatment for external bleeding and is usually successful in most cases.

A tourniquet is most effective when it’s wide enough to cover the entire limb and exert sufficient pressure around it. Ideally, it should be two to four inches across.

Additionally, it should rest flat against the skin to help prevent neurovascular damage.

If it is a large limb, the tourniquet may need to be adjusted periodically in order to guarantee complete arterial blood stoppage.

This type of tourniquet severely restricts circulation to an area, which can result in permanent nerve and tissue damage. However, when other methods have failed, this can be an essential tool for stopping bleeding.

  • Wrap the Tourniquet

Tourniquets can be an effective tool in stopping bleeding and saving lives when someone is suffering from severe bleeding. They work by applying circumferential pressure around a limb, compressing soft tissue against its central long bone, and collapsing large blood vessels – ultimately stopping forward bleeding.

Tourniquets are often employed by emergency medical services along with other bleeding control techniques. They’ve commonly applied after farm or industrial accidents, car or motorcycle crashes, and ‘household misadventures’ where patients have been injured due to broken plate glass windows or similar incidents.

Wrap a tourniquet around the affected limb about 2-3 inches above where there is bleeding. Make sure it rests on a single bone rather than a joint (if the wound is on your lower limb, place the tourniquet above that bone).

  • Secure the Tourniquet

A tourniquet is a device that can stop bleeding from an acute wound. It’s included in critical injury first response and bleed trauma kits as it can potentially save lives by preventing hemorrhagic shock if applied promptly.

A polyurethane tourniquet can also be used to reduce muscular atrophy or stimulate bone growth by restricting blood flow. However, if applied incorrectly or left on for too long, it could cause nerve and tissue damage.

When applying a tourniquet, it is essential to first identify the source of bleeding and apply direct pressure. After that, wrap the tourniquet around a limb several inches above the wound and tie it securely.


Caretek tourniquets have become an indispensable tool for emergency medical personnel (EMS personnel, EMTs, doctors’ offices, and more), to slow blood flow and apply pressure to trauma patients for various purposes like cannulation, IV access, and hemorrhage control. If you wish to know what tourniquet is in detail, then click here.

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