Survival Skills: How to Stop Bleeding from a Severe Wound
I know, I know---I've been reading too many survival books. I'm addicted, I admit. I'll have a great list of my favorite books for you in just a second...but for right now, I've been thinking a lot about what I would do if something happened to Mr. V. For example, what if he was wounded, bleeding severely, and we couldn't get to a hospital right away?
Also, on the homestead, stuff just happens. Fairly often, one of us will end up with some type of minor wound that bleeds profusely. It's a little unnerving sometimes, especially for me because I have thinner blood than Mr. V. It's taken over an hour for a little cut to stop bleeding before.
I've been doing some research on what to do in the event of a severe wound because I believe in being as prepared and knowledgeable as possible. First, I do recommend you have a great First Aid book in your medical kit--just in case.
And if you are able to take a first aid course, that would be a big plus. Even though I have a pretty decent background because of studying herbs for many years, taking an actual first aid course is on my bucket list of things to do in the near future.
I will say right here: I am NOT a doctor or medical professional, and this article is for informational purposes only--mostly for myself. If you are in any kind of doubt about an injury or wound you should immediately seek professional help from an EMT, doctor, hospital or other trained person.
The Resources I list at the end of this article have a great deal of excellent information, too!
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links throughout this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Heidi (Full Disclosure Here)
What to Do in Case of a Severe Bleeding Wound
First of all---you want to call 9-1-1 if the wound has any of these characteristics (and if you are in doubt---CALL):
You think there may be internal bleeding
The wound is in the chest wall or the abdomen (organs may be affected)
Blood is spurting---very dangerous, as this may be from an artery and the danger of bleeding out is real
If the bleeding can't be stopped after 10 minutes of constant pressure
If bleeding is very fast, and there is a lot of blood
Steps to Take in Case of a Bleeding Wound:
Depending on the kind of trauma and how badly the person is affected, different measures will need to be taken. Here, I am giving the basic first aid for a bleeding wound. Again, if you suspect it's very bad, please call a doctor, but these are steps you can take right away.
1) Determine what kind of wound it is and how bad it is.
Here is a list of some of the different types of bleeding wounds. I'm sure you've seen some of these yourself! I know I have!
Abrasion: Minor scrape
Cut: Skin is sliced, perhaps by glass, knife, or scissors, etc.
Laceration: A deep cut or tear. A laceration may also have dirt in the wound and is generally a jagged wound.
Puncture: An entry hole from an object. These can be dangerous because of the risk of infection, even if bleeding is minimal.
Stab: A stab wound is deeper than it is wide, such as a knife wound.
Gunshot: Gunshot wounds are obviously caused by some type of bullet entering the body, probably with a great deal of force. A gunshot wound may have multiple points of entry and exit.
2) If Needed, Determine the Type of Bleeding
Capillary: Capillary bleeding is generally on the surface layers of the skin---from the small vessels throughout the body. Capillaries range from tiny little vessels to larger ones.
Vein: If bleeding is coming from a vein, it's darker in color. This is slower moving blood, and these are the main vessels going back to the heart under lower pressure. You should call a doctor/ambulance/hospital if you suspect the bleeding is coming from a vein.
Artery: Blood coming from an artery will be bright red and may spurt. This blood is being carried away from the heart under higher pressure. You should call a doctor/ambulance/hospital immediately if you think the bleeding is arterial.
** Bleeding from an artery and often a vein may become life-threatening very quickly if the bleeding is not controlled. If you suspect either of these types of bleeding, you should call an ambulance right away. Follow the steps below as best you can until help arrives.
You could potentially use a tourniquet to help stop the bleeding if it is from an artery or vein, but with an arterial wound, the part of the body that is having the blood cut off may sustain serious injury that may be unrepairable. Just be aware of this, even though using a tourniquet may be the best or only choice.
3) P.E.E.P. !
Ask the wounded to sit or lay down.
Expose & Examine:
Remove clothing from the wounded area and take a look. If there is any object embedded in the body, do not remove it! That's best for the doctor to do. If you are near a doctor or hospital, your job is to get the bleeding to stop as quickly as possible until you can get help.
If you are not able to get to a doctor or hospital, then clean it up with a mild soap and water solution or even better, a mild saline solution. You may have to use sterilized tweezers to gently pick debris out of the wound.
If you can, raise the body part above the level of the heart to help slow bleeding. This works best with an extremity such as an arm or leg.
If the wounded person is able to apply pressure, have them do this to avoid contact with their blood. Otherwise, if they can't, you'll have to apply the pressure. Applying pressure to the wound slows and may stop the bleeding completely.
Other Things to Consider and Keep in Mind When Dealing with a Bleeding Wound:
Quikclot: I'd like to mention Quikclot here. It wasn't mentioned in any of the articles I found online, but this is a hemostatic bandage that can be applied to the wound when applying pressure and can help with clotting (and therefore stopping bleeding).
If you are in a situation where an ambulance can't be called or you are far away from the hospital and the bleeding is very severe, you may want to try this method. You can find Quikclot online to keep in your emergency kit or your Get Home Bag (you have one, right?).
1) For Puncture Wounds:
These are a bit different than your typical bleeding wound because there may actually be very little bleeding, yet they can be dangerous due to risk of infection from bacteria or dirt.
Clean the wound
Rinse with water if you can for 10 minutes
Apply an antibiotic tincture or ointment, such as Neosporin (I'll have an article soon about how to make your own antibiotic ointment.)
Cover the wound.
Clean and repeat the steps at least once a day and watch for infection.
A person can go into shock if too much blood is lost. This is because the body is trying to keep the organs alive, so circulation to the skin is the first thing to be shut down. You can tell if a person is in shock by looking for these signs:
Cold and clammy
Lips turn blue
Nausea or vomiting
Shallow, rapid breathing.
Things get even worse if the brain starts shutting down---death may be near.
If you suspect the hurt person is going into shock, you'll want to raise his legs. This helps keep blood in the torso area and helps protect the organs from damage. You'll also want to keep the person warm by using blankets or some kind of heat source if you can.
It's a good idea to reassure the person, too. When a person is cold, afraid, and very anxious, shock can be made a great deal worse.
Final Thoughts on How to Take Care of a Bleeding Wound
Most wounds we are likely to come across are not going to be life-threatening, but having a basic understanding of first aid, how a body reacts to a wound, and what to look for with blood loss can really help you know how to handle each individual incidence.
Fortunately, most of us have access to fast medical treatment if needed. But if you don't, these are the basic things to think about when dealing with a bleeding wound. The most important thing is to get it to stop bleeding quickly.
I really wish basic first aid was taught as a requirement in our high schools. I'm so old, maybe it already is, although I haven't heard of this. I just think it would be a great thing for people entering adulthood to have some knowledge and skills....just in case. I guess that's the prepper/survivalist in me emerging.
The bottom line is to know what to do, have supplies ready to go, and do your best. And hopefully, none of us will have to deal with anything very traumatic!
Oh, yes! And that list of great preparedness books I promised you? Here they are....Keep in mind, they are fiction, but are based on what "could" happen in a variety of different events:
One Second After as well as the other books in the series, Locker Nine, and anything by Mark Goodwin. The Borrowed World series is also great! There are many more, too! If you start reading these, you'll be addicted like me! :-)
You may also enjoy these survival-related articles:
Have you had to tend to a bleeding wound? If you have experience, please share your thoughts! And if you have questions or comments, please make a comment in the comments section!
Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,
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As I said earlier in this article, I am not a doctor or medical professional. This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat, prescribe, cure, or diagnose any illness or medical problem. Please seek advice from a medical professional before using any herbs or essential oils and also if you feel there is a medical emergency.