If you're going to be putting your emergency bug-out pack together, you'll probably be adding a tourniquet to the supply list. While tourniquets are one of the best ways to stop uncontrolled bleeding, they're not without their risks. In fact, mistakes made during the application and use of tourniquets can lead to life-threatening complications for the victim. If you're going to be keeping tourniquets in your emergency bug-out pack, you'll need to know how to use them properly. Here are four crucial tips that will help you avoid complications associated with tourniquet use.
Try Applying Direct Pressure First
If someone in your group suffers a serious injury that is bleeding uncontrollably, the first thing you should do is try applying direct pressure. Applying direct pressure is often the easiest and safest way to stop bleeding. Gather a generous supply of medical gauze and place it directly over the wound. Using your hand, apply direct pressure to the wound. If the bleeding stops, you'll need to dress the wound to prevent further bleeding. If the bleeding doesn't stop, you'll need to resort to the tourniquet.
Make Sure It's Applied in the Right Spot
When it comes to applying a tourniquet, you'll need to make sure it's applied to the right spot. Placing the tourniquet either too far above, or below the wound, will not stop the bleeding. In fact, it may lead to further complications. For maximum effectiveness, you'll want to place the tourniquet about 2" above the wound. Avoid placing the tourniquet on a joint though, or you'll cause serious problems for the victim.
Apply Just the Right Amount of Pressure
Once you've determined the right placement for the tourniquet, you'll need to make sure that you apply enough pressure to stop the blood flow, including the arterial flow. You might not realize this, but arterial blood is highly pressurized, which means even if you've stopped the flow of blood from the wound, you might not have stopped the flow of blood from the nearby arteries. Unfortunately, if that's the case, the victim may continue to bleed through the arteries. To avoid that risk, make sure you apply enough pressure to stop all blood flow to the wound.
Mark the Time When Tourniquet is Applied
If you're going to be using a tourniquet, you'll need to keep a close watch on the clock. Serious complications can arise if a tourniquet is in place for longer than a couple of hours. To help protect against those complications, be sure to mark the time when the tourniquet is applied. That way, when help arrives, you can let them know how long the tourniquet has been in place.