Under House Bill 496, a Texas law that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, stop-the-bleed kits are required in public schools and teachers must have training.
But there are useful tools inside each kit that you may want to know how to use, whether you’re at home, exploring outdoors, or in another type of public setting.
Inside each kit, you’ll find gloves, trauma shears for cutting off clothes, tourniquets to stop that life-threatening bleeding, chest seals, which are for trauma to the chest and torso area, combat gauze, and an emergency blanket to help keep patients warm after they’ve lost blood.
It’s all relatively easy to use, but the tourniquet might require more practice.
That’s where you could get training from first responders, like at Community Volunteer Fire Department.
They offer an hourlong “Stop the Bleed” course that covers threatening and non-life-threatening bleeding situations.
A tourniquet would be used in a more serious incident.
Step 1: Open it up to a big loop, put your arm through the loop and go high and tight. The fire department teaches high and tight because they don’t want people to have to think about where to put the tourniquet. Place it high up toward the shoulder, grab the tab, pull it tight, and there’s a belt right, which works like a Velcro belt.
Step 2: Wrap the belt all the way around.
Step 3: Twist the windlass to cut off the blood flow. The windlass is important because it’s really what makes the tourniquet work. Continue to twist it until the bleeding stops. To be frank, it’ll hurt, but it’s necessary to tighten it to stop the bleeding. Do one more twist to lock it in place.
Step 4: You’ll wrap the remaining piece of belt around one last time. You can write the time on there, which is good for doctors or first responders to know so they’re aware of how long the tourniquet has been there. If it’s working, the bleeding should stop, and you should not feel any pulses down at the end of the arm. That means blood flow is cut off.
You can watch the full demonstration in the video player above.
Remember, tourniquets can be placed in two spots – arms and legs.
A person can bleed out in three to four minutes if an artery is hit, so tourniquets must be applied immediately. They can stay on for about six to eight hours before there’s any nerve damage or tissue loss.
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Obviously, the hope is that you never find yourself in a situation where you need to stop life-threatening bleeding, but something more common, like cutting yourself in the kitchen while cooking, could happen.
“Say that you’re in the kitchen, and you cut yourself with a kitchen knife, and you’re bleeding, but it’s not that serious. What you can do is direct pressure. So if you have any kind of gauze or a T-shirt or a towel, what we do is fold up our fabric into a nice little square, just to cover enough of the surface area, put it down onto the wound area, and press as hard as we can with direct pressure for several minutes until the bleeding stops,” Josh Taylor, Assistant Chief of EMS and Tactical Operations with Community VFD, said.
Watch the demonstration that Taylor described in the video below.