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How to Treat Wounds and Stop Bleeding
1/15/2011 10:31:59 AM

How to Treat Wounds and Stop Bleeding


Bleeding doesn't always signal an emergency situation. A minor cut doesn't have the same priority as an injury that creates profuse bleeding. No matter what the situation may be, there is one important rule to remember when it comes to treating wounds:

Bleeding doesn't always signal an emergency situation. A minor cut doesn't have the same priority as an injury that creates profuse bleeding. No matter what the situation may be, there is one important rule to remember when it comes to treating wounds:

First Things First
You don't have to step on a rusty nail to get a tetanus (lock-jaw) infection. Any wound is susceptible. The best preventative medicine is a tetanus injection every 10 years for everyone in the family. This is expecially important if you enjoy outdoor vacations or do extensive traveling abroad.
Always wash your hands before performing first aid to prevent infection. If soap and water aren't handy, make sure you have “wet naps” in your first aid kit.


Although you don't have to take extreme precautions when it comes to your immediate family, remember that with friends, colleagues, and strangers, it's always best to follow universal safety guidelines to prevent transmission of the HIV virus and other infections via blood. Always wear two pairs of latex gloves, a mask, goggles, and an apron, if possible.
As an extra precaution, make sure any open wounds or cuts on your skin are completely covered before performing first aid.
Where the bleeding is coming from is more important than the amount of blood you see. A minor cut can create profuse bleeding—as anyone who has cut him- or herself shaving knows.


When you check an injured person's vital signs, don't forget to check for signs of bleeding. After you've washed your hands, attend to the wound. Is it near a major artery or vein, such as in the inside of the wrist, along the neck, on the torso area, at the inner thigh, or on the back of the calf? Is it serious enough for stitches? Does the cut appear to be close to the surface? After you've determined where the cut is located, you can take appropriate steps to stop the bleeding, as described in the following paragraphs. And, as always, don't forget your universal safety measures!

Minor Scrapes
Treating minor cuts is relatively simple. If you have a child, you've most likely been doing it for years! You can tell a cut is minor if it's near the surface and is not close to any important veins or arteries.
Minor cuts can look a lot worse than they are. Here are some simple steps to follow when treating a minor cut:

Ouch!

Don't use cotton balls to clean wounds. The tiny fibers might add to the injury. They can pull on scabs that might be forming, which can contaminate the wound below the surface.

Ouch!
Never remove impaled objects from a cut or puncture wound. Wait for help to arrive.

1. Wash your hands to avoid introducing infection into the wound.
2. Wash the wound with an antibacterial antiseptic and a clean sterile cloth. In an emergency where help or a first aid kit are nowhere in sight, a clean ripped T-shirt will do! Only use an article of clothing in absolute emergencies because they are not always clean and may induce infection.
3. Once you've applied a sterile cloth to cover the wound, apply direct pressure to the wound to slow the bleeding. Press firmly on the cut with your fingers and hand for several minutes without letting up. If the bleeding doesn't stop, you may have a deeper wound than you first thought. Get help as soon as possible. In the worst possible instance, you might have to apply a tourniquet.
4. After the wound stops bleeding, remove the pressure. Gently apply an antibiotic cream.
5. Cover the wound to avoid infection. Use adhesive bandages for small cuts and scrapes. Use non-stick gauze pads (taped down with adhesive tape) for large scrapes, surface area wounds, and wounds that are beginning to heal. Be careful when changing dressings because adhesives can pull on developing scabs

Deep Wounds

Treating and cleaning deep wounds must be left to medical professionals only, but while waiting for help to arrive, you can still work to reduce bleeding. Apply pressure as described in the preceding section about minor scrapes. If the bleeding shows no sign of subsiding and continues to “gush” profusely, you might have to make a tourniquet. Tourniquets should be used only in life-or-death emergencies. Never use a tourniquet on the head, neck, or chest. Its unrelenting heavy pressure can stop the flow of oxygen to your heart, lungs, and brain—and cause permanent nerve and muscle damage. Tourniquets should only be used as a last resort for pulsing, spraying bleeding that cannot be controlled by direct pressure or elevating the limb. If you take a tourniquet off once you've put it on, bleeding could begin to flow twice as heavily as before. Always write down the time you applied the tourniquet and let the emergency squad know.
As a last resort, follow these steps to make a tourniquet.

1. Find a scarf, a piece of cloth, or a sheet that is at least two inches wide. Wrap the material just above the wound three times.
2. Tie the ends in a tight half-knot.
3. Place a stick, a piece of wood, a pen, a utensil, or anything that is between five and ten inches long directly on the knot.
4. Tie the ends of the cloth around the stick item to the tourniquet with a double knot.
5. Twist the stick until the bleeding stops or at least decreases to a minor “trickle.” Do not twist any further, as you might do more damage.
6. Keep the stick secure with another tourniquet knot or with another piece of cloth. 

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