In this article, we’re here to teach you how to use a tourniquet the way it should be done. So, keep on reading to learn more about the reasons to have it in your first aid kit and the tourniquets to get.
There are several movie scenes that involve the application of a tourniquet to stop the blood flow to a limb or a wound. For instance, you’ve probably seen this multiple times in movies where a cast member tears an electric cord to tie it around someone’s arm or leg to stop the bleeding. Unfortunately, however, this is one of the wrong myths that Hollywood has been teaching people for years.
How to Use a Tourniquet
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A tourniquet is a tight band that limits the blood flow to a wound to stop the bleeding or the spread of a toxin. The idea is to apply enough pressure to press the blood vessels and the muscles and prevent the blood from traveling from and to a particular limb.
Applying a thin material like an electric cord or a stretchy material like a t-shirt doesn’t work because the DIY tourniquet won’t be tight enough to stop the blood flow. This is why it’s crucial to know how to use one and how to pick the right one to include in your first aid kit.
Historical evidence shows that they were first used in the Middle Ages on the battlefield at the Battle of Flanders in 1674. During this period, it was used to decrease the blood flow to an injured limb before amputation.
However, they weren’t used to stop wounds from getting worse because the soldiers would be unable to fight if they were using one.
How They Are Used Today
- The SWAT-T Tourniquet, part of Safeguard Medical Systems’ MARCH Medical Gear, was designed specifically for military and civilian Special Weapons and Tactics Teams, but also has benefits in all...
- Its name states the description for use Stretch, Wrap, And Tuck.
- The SWAT-T is rugged and has been tested in and out of packaging. Extended shelf life due to new bagging that offers UV resistance.
In modern medicine, it is used to stop uncontrolled bleeding, which leads to the death of almost 60,000 Americans every year. So, if you see someone suffering from hemorrhage after a car accident or a gunshot, these are the right steps to apply a tourniquet.
- Make sure that the injured person understands that you’re applying a tourniquet if they’re conscious because it hurts. In most cases, excessive blood loss can lead to dizziness and loss of consciousness.
- Apply the tourniquet to clothing if there’s no time to remove clothes or they’re challenging to remove.
- Place the tourniquet tight. Make sure that it’s placed high on the extremity, near the armpit in case of an arm, and near the groin in case of a leg.
- Pull the tail of the tourniquet to keep it tight, and keep on twisting the windlass until the bleeding stops.
- Check the pulse at the extremity to make sure that the tourniquet is applied properly. If there’s still a pulse, then you need to reapply it or tighten it a little more.
- Secure the windlass to keep the tourniquet in place.
- Give the person some medicine for pain relief if the tourniquet is too painful.
- If the bleeding continues, you can apply another tourniquet, placed lower than the first one to stop the bleeding.
- Document when you’ve applied the tourniquet so the doctor or surgeon helping the injured person can determine the duration of time during which the extremity had no access to blood.
Reasons to Have Tourniquet in Your First Aid Kit
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Having a first aid kit allows you to respond promptly to injuries that you or someone else can be subject to. And a valuable item like a tourniquet can set the line between life and death in several situations. Here are some reasons why you should have it.
- A tourniquet is a useful tool to pack in a first aid kit for stopping bleeding that you take on survival missions or in situations where getting to the hospital is likely to take more time.
- It can be used in situations where there are big numbers of injuries or when there’s no accessibility of applying direct pressure to the wound.
- Tourniquets are used in industrial and other hazardous settings when applying direct pressure to an injured limb doesn’t stop the bleeding.
- In case of multiple injuries, applying a tourniquet will stop the bleeding while the breathing and other vitals are being checked and assessed.
How to Use a Tourniquet – Application Mistakes
Despite being highly valuable tools, many people commit mistakes while applying tourniquets, so they become useless or even dangerous to use. Here are some mistakes that people unknowingly commit.
- Applying a tourniquet too loose because the person is in pain. Unless it feels uncomfortable and restrictive, the tourniquet isn’t properly working.
- Using a DIY tourniquet doesn’t usually work because it can’t apply the needed pressure. This is why you should always keep a commercial tourniquet in your first aid kit.
- In severe wounds, applying one tourniquet won’t deliver the desired results. Therefore, applying two or even three tourniquets is always recommended to stop excessive bleeding in serious injuries, especially when the injury is in the leg or the person is overweight.
- Removing the tourniquet too soon is another mistake. It’s recommended to leave the tourniquet until a doctor is able to remove it.
- Applying the tourniquet for too long can lead to tissue damage.
- Using a tourniquet when someone has been bitten by a snake. There’s a misconception that restricting the blood flow can save the limb, but the truth is that when the venom is too concentrated in a single area, it causes more tissue damage. This is why it’s recommended to let the blood flow to the injured limb to allow the venom to get diluted.
Best Ones to Buy
Using a bandage or applying pressure by hand is never enough to stop serious bleeding. This is why you need to add a reliable tourniquet. Here are some of the tourniquets to get.
1. SOFTT-W Tourniquet 1.5
- SOF TOURNIQUET – Purposeful features of this tourniquet allow for smoother and faster one-handed and two-handed application to most effectively stop the bleeding during emergencies.
- COMPRESSION BAND WITH BUCKLE – The tourniquet easily slides over an arm or leg. You can also unclip the rugged buckle to fit around hard-to-reach areas, such as a trapped limb. The band...
- WINDLASS & CLIP – Designed with aircraft-grade aluminum and grip-friendly texture. The assistance clip holds the windlass in place until you can secure it to the tri-ring lock, which enhances...
This is one of the lightest and tightest tourniquets that you can apply in any situation. Even if you’re a beginner, you’ll be able to apply it in case of an injury, thanks to the anodized aluminum windlass and clip for easy application. Also, because it’s 1.5-inch wide, this band will increase pressure without being extremely painful.
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The band features the snap-lock design for rapid re-routing around trapped limbs and rethreading. It’s lightweight but provides the required strength and durability. In addition, it’s almost 15% lighter than other tourniquets for easy storage. One-hand application isn’t easy, but it might be possible with training.
What We Like
- Suitable for beginners.
- Features an anodized aluminum windlass and clip for easy application.
- Wide enough to apply increased pressure.
- A snap-lock design for re-routing.
What We Don’t Like
- One-hand application is difficult.
2. RATS GEN 2 Rapid Application Tourniquet System
- Easy to Use - The RATS (Rapid Application Tourniquet System) Tourniquet is easy to learn and us.
- Simple Design - The design of the tourniquet is very simple, allowing for one handed use in cases where no other assistance is available.
- Small & Compact - It can be rolled up into a compact size for putting in first aid kits, survival kits, or anywhere you see fit to carry it.
This reliable tourniquet is approved by the U.S. Army’s Institute of Surgical Research to stop hemorrhage from the lower and upper extremities. In addition, it’s big and long enough to accommodate larger limbs when someone is overweight.
It’s BERRY-compliant and has been tested to save lives. It has even been adapted for EDC and for use by animals, and it’s one of the easiest tourniquets to use.
It is made of high-quality rubber and is very fast to apply, and the small size allows you to adapt it for various applications. However, this band should be applied using both hands, although it can be applied using one hand. It’s more suitable for application on the upper arms because it’s not that strong.
What We Like
- The tourniquet is big and long.
- It accommodates larger limbs and works for overweight people.
- Adapted for EDC and animals.
- Made of high-quality rubber.
What We Don’t Like
- It should be applied using two hands.
- Not suitable for legs.
3. Recon Medical Tourniquet
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This affordable option is an excellent choice for survival missions with a finger hole design to be picked in muddy and wet situations. With larger patients, it features a no-curl tip to apply the desired pressure.
The no-slip teeth keep it in place, and the aluminum windlass keeps the tourniquet lightweight and durable. However, in most situations, you need to apply more than one to apply the needed pressure.
What We Like
- Affordable tourniquet.
- Finger-hole design to be chosen in muddy and wet situations.
- Suitable for larger limbs.
- Lightweight and durable.
What We Don’t Like
- You need to apply for more than one tourniquet.
A tourniquet is a useful tool to add to your first aid kit. It can stop the bleeding when applying pressure by hand doesn’t work. You should always make sure that it is tight enough to stop the blood flow, and you might need to apply more than one.