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How to make a tourniquet

A tourniquet is a last resort, to be used only when bleeding is life threatening or when the injury is a severed limb. Even with a severed finger, foot, or worse, if the bleeding can be stopped by less drastic pressure, a surgeon may be able to reattach the part.

To make a tourniquet, tear a long, wide strip of cloth (from a shirt or a skirt, if necessary) and find a stick, ball point pen, table knife, screwdriver-whatever is handy. Wind the cloth strip twice around the limb above the wound and as close to it as possible; tie a half-knot. Place the stick over the knot and tie two full knots.

Twist the stick until the bleeding stops. Secure the free end of the stick by tying it to the limb with a strip of cloth. Write down when and where the tourniquet was applied and attach the note to the person’s clothing in full view. Get medical help quickly.

Once a tourniquet is applied, do not loosen it, or you may throw the person into shock from sudden renewed bleeding. However, if medical help is several hours away and the injury is a deep laceration, release the tourniquet every hour to hour and a half while maintaining direct pressure at the site of the wound. After a few minutes retighten the tourniquet.