When should I use a tourniquet to treat a wound?

Because of the potential for adverse effects, a tourniquet should be used only as a last resort in cases of delayed care or situations where response from emergency medical services (EMS) is delayed, when direct pressure does not stop the bleeding, or you are not able to apply direct pressure.

A tourniquet may be appropriate if you cannot reach the wound because of entrapment, there are multiple injuries, or the size of the wound prohibits application of direct pressure.

In most areas, application of a tourniquet is considered to be a skill at the emergency medical technician (EMT) level or higher and requires proper training. There are several types of manufactured tourniquets available and are preferred over makeshift (improvised) devices.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.