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Stop Bleeding

Bleeding refers to the loss of blood from blood vessels anywhere in the body. If someone has been wounded and is bleeding, it's important to work quickly to control blood loss. In most cases, you should be able to keep the bleeding under control without much difficulty. In more severe cases, however, uncontrolled or severe bleeding can contribute to shock, circulatory disruption, or more serious health consequences such as damage to tissues and major organs, which can lead to death. Follow the steps below to control bleeding.


  • There are three types of external bleeding: arterial, venous and capillary:[9]
    • Arterial bleeding: Arterial blood is under more pressure and moves rapidly, making it hard for clots to form. It is a bright red color owing to the oxygen content. It is the hardest to deal with.
    • Venous bleeding: This is easier to control; it is bleeding from veins, and is usually under less pressure and flows more slowly than arterial blood. Being lower in oxygen, it will be darker in color, more like maroon or dark red. Note that bleeding from varicose veins (usually found on the legs) can be profuse and can lead to death and should be treated as for severe bleeding.
    • Capillary bleeding: This is the most common type of bleeding. Blood from capillaries tends to "ooze" slowly from a wound, as the blood is under low pressure. It's not as red as arterial blood.
  • For serious bleeding, call for help, or ask someone else to call for help, as soon as possible.
  • When applying pressure to a bleeding wound, do not move the dressing to determine if bleeding has stopped. Instead, continue to apply pressure.
  • If available, put on rubber or latex gloves before coming in contact with others' blood. You can even use clean plastic bags to protect your hands.
  • If a person has suffered severe abdominal injuries, do not reposition organs. Cover them with a dressing until the person can be moved by people with emergency medical training.[4]
  • Venous bleeding can be stopped with a general pressure over the bleeding area or a "pressure" type dressing (not circumferential!) As stated, do NOT look under dressing to see if bleeding stopped. If the dressing is soaked with blood then it probably hasn't stopped. Reapply dressing with pressure in a different location. Get medical help
  • Arterial bleeding requires more specific pressure on the bleeding vessel than generalized pressure on venous-type bleeding. This may require finger-tip pressure at the point where the bleeding is coming from - NOT a generalized pressure. This is due to the higher pressure of the arterial system. ALL ARTERIAL INJURIES WILL ULTIMATELY REQUIRE PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ATTENTION.
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  • It is not generally recommended that you use a tourniquet. However, in the case of severe injuries or severed limbs, it is possible that you may need to use one to save a life. Understand that this may very well cost the person a limb.[10]
  • To prevent the transmission of disease between you and the victim, it is important to take specific precautions:[11]
    • Use a barrier between the bleeding and your skin. Wear gloves (preferably non-latex since some people may have an allergic reaction to latex), or use a clean, folded cloth.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after attending to a bleeding victim. Use a hand basin, not one usually used for food preparation.
    • Do not eat, drink, or touch your nose/mouth/eyes until you have thoroughly washed your hands after treating a bleeding victim.

Sources and Citations

  1. United Kingdom - National Health Service, at
  3. 3.0 3.1 U.S. NASD - Basic First Aid
  4. 4.0 4.1 - Severe Bleeding:First Aid
  5. Australian Red Cross, First Aid, Responding to Emergencies, p. 89, (2002), ISBN 9-780909-896744
  8. Australian Red Cross, First Aid, Responding to Emergencies, p. 89, (2002), ISBN 9-780909-896744
  9. Australian Red Cross, First Aid, Responding to Emergencies, p. 88, (2002), ISBN 9-780909-896744
  10. Survival, Evasion and Recovery - U.S. Military Field Manual FM 21-76-1 (1999)
  11. Australian Red Cross, First Aid, Responding to Emergencies, p. 90, (2002), ISBN 9-780909-896744