This is the low down and dirty basic information you need for anyone who has not been trained to use a tourniquet but is interested or motivated to save a life, even if it’s just your own. You should not be ashamed to take responsibility for your own life. You should also not be timid about being prepared to save the lives of those you serve with and those you love.
Human Anatomy Basics You Must First Understand to Stop Bleeding
Veins and arteries run the entire length of arms and legs.
Major bleeding can be caused by either an artery or a vein. You don’t need to be able to tell which it is to put a tourniquet on. Major bleeding is reason enough.
Propper tourniquets use mechanical advantage to squeeze the blood vessels shut.
If in a hurry or unable to completely assess the entire limb for injury, apply a tourniquet high and tight on the injured limb to stop all blood flow to that limb.
If you able to properly and completely assess an injured limb, place the tourniquet 2-3 inches above the injury closest to the body but not over one of the joints such as the knee or elbow.
Tourniquets can be effectively placed on a lower leg, such as as calf, or on the forearm. It’s actually easier and more effective if it’s on this part of the limb due to the smaller circumference.
Apply the tourniquet tightly and then twist the windlass until bleeding has stopped.
If you have time, and know how, check to ensure that the tourniquet has completely stopped blood flow to the limb by feeling for a pulse. If a tourniquet is only half-way tightened it can lead to compartment syndrome later.
If one tourniquet is not effective in stopping blood flow due to the size or musculature of the limb, you can use 2 or even 3 right next to each other. Try not to leave a gap between them.
The tourniquet can be safely converted or removed later by trained personnel.
Parts of a Tourniquet
The Only 2 CoTCCC Approved Tourniquets: SOFTT-W or the CAT
Manufacturer and Industry Videos
Beware of Counterfeit and Non-Approved or Non-Tested Tourniquets
Tourniquets are medical devices that should go through rigorous testing to ensure that they do what they are supposed to safely. Knock offs sold by unreliable, no-name online shops have been known to fail at the worst times. Be sure that you buy from a reputable source. We can mention some in the comments.
If you don’t have it with you it won’t do any good when you need it:
Improvising a Tourniquet on the Spot
Improvised tourniquets have failed time and time again. Belts and thin elastic straps are in this catergory. Your Plan-A should not be to improvise what you may or may not find on the street in an emergency. If you find yourself in a situation where you must put something together you should remember to secure it tightly and be sure to reassess that it hasn’t stopped working often. Be sure that it is working in the first place and that it can apply the amount of force necessary with some kind of mechanical advantage such as the windlass. The mechanical advantage is one of the main differences between a pressure dressing and a real tourniquet.
You must practice using a tourniquet on yourself. You have to be able to put one on, under pressure while exhausted and covered in blood, in an uncomfortable position in pitch darkness using your both your dominant and, more importantly, non-dominant hand. If you cannot you are a liability to yourself and to your partner and community. You can do this right now.
Get Equipped. Get Educated. Get Trained. Save Lives.