This page may contain compensated links via Amazon and other sources. Learn more here.

First Aid for Severe Bleeding

Learn first aid for severe bleeding. Severe bleeding is a critical situation which, if not taken care of, can lead to volume shock and death. This post explains the best methods for the control of bleeding.

IMPORTANT: No amount of reading can compare to a medical course with a professional trainer. A standard first aid course is good. A Remote Area First Aid Course or higher is best.

First Aid For Severe Bleeding Video

Here’s an abridged version of this post in video format for those of you that prefer to watch than read. The complete article continues below the video.

Well-Aimed, Direct Pressure

This is the go-to method for controlling severe bleeding in first aid. Apply well-aimed, direct pressure to the wound.

  • Elevate the wounded area above the patient’s heart (if possible).
  • Wait 10 minutes then check if bleeding has stopped.
  • If it is spurting, stick your finger down on the wound and hold it there.

Pressure Point Constriction

If bleeding doesn’t subside after 20 minutes, use pressure point constriction. Choose an arterial pressure point between the injury and the heart. The closer to the bleeding site the better.

Do not perform pressure point constriction for more than 10 minutes. Doing so can result in necrosis (death of body tissue). Be extra careful of the carotid artery, as it hinders oxygen to the brain.

Pressure Point Constriction for First Aid
Arterial pressure points.


If the patient is still bleeding, consider appling a tourniquet.

Note: This is a last resort. Only use a tourniquet if it is severe, uncontrolled bleeding that will cause loss of life.

Long-term use of a tourniquet may cause loss of limb.

How to Tie a Tourniquet

To make an improvised tourniquet, find a length of strong, pliable cloth. It is best if it is no less than 5cm wide (2 inches), e.g., backpack strap, clothing, long sock.

Apply it on the limb. Use padding underneath if possible, e.g., rolled up clothing. Place it between the wound and the heart, approximately 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) from the wound.

If possible, wrap it around the limb several times keeping the material as flat as possible. Tie a simple overhand knot to hold it in place.

Place a torsion device, e.g., a strong stick, on top of the knot. Secure it in place with 2 overhand knots.

Only twist the torsion device enough to stop arterial bleeding (bright red bleeding). Do not over-tighten. Continued dark bleeding for a short while is normal in cases of amputation.

Once tightened, secure the torsion device in place. One way to do this is to loop the ends of the tourniquet over the ends of the stick and tie them together under the limb.

Note what time you applied it. Do not cover it.

How to make a tourniquet in the field.
Improvised tourniquet.

Check it after 20 minutes. Ensure a pressure dressing is in place and bleeding has stopped.

Very slowly loosen the tourniquet to restore circulation. Leave the loosened tourniquet in position in case the bleeding resumes.

When you transfer the patient to other caregivers write the letters “TK” on the patient’s forehead. Also, write the time you applied the tourniquet.

How to Control Severe Nose Bleeding

First aid for a severe bleeding nose needs special attention since there is no visual would for you to work on.

First, you must know how to control nose bleeding in general. Try these methods first then escalate as needed.

As with any method of how to control bleeding, you want to reduce the blood flow. Reduce the blood pressure by sitting upright. Leaning forward a little will prevent you from swallowing blood.

To apply direct pressure, pinch your nostrils closed. Do this for 5 minutes and then check to see if the bleeding has stopped. If not, do it again for 10 minutes. If your nose continues to bleed after this 2nd attempt, try it one more time for another full 10 minutes.

If your nose still continues to bleed, it is time to find a doctor. If there isn’t one, pack gauze into your nose.

No matter where you go you need this book,
because the information inside it saves lives!

Wilderness and Travel Medicine Cover

First Aid For Severe Bleeding Conclusion

I hope the information in this post answers your question on what is the best way to stop severe bleeding.

In most cases, the well-aimed direct pressure will work. Always try that first since it is also the least likely to cause further complications.

If well-aimed direct pressure doesn’t work, you can try pressure point constriction. And finally, for dire situations, apply a tourniquet.

Did you find this article about how to stop severe bleeding useful? If so, please share it with your friends.

Leave a Comment