Knowing how best to deal with bleeding in first aid situation is vital. Any form of blood loss can – of not addressed – lead to further complications (and even in the worst cases, death). That sounds intimidating but, in fact, there are some very simple procedures to follow to control bleeding.

It may seem beyond obvious, but the first thing to do with any bleed is stem the flow of blood. Obviously, the level of blood loss differs depending on how severe the accident is. But the principle remains the same: stop the flow and you will make it easier for the blood to start clotting and get the healing process underway. Here’s a rundown of the main ways you can do this.

Plug the wound using a simple gauze or other improvised material (ordinary towels work well but you may have to use an article of clothing if nothing of that nature is available)

Apply pressure to the wound – again, using some kind of sterile material is best, but you may have to improvise. Keep the pressure on until the bleeding subsides, but never pull off blood-soaked gauze (this can remove the coagulated blood and vital clotting agents, restarting the flow of blood). Be careful not stop the flow of blood to other unaffected areas in doing this – e.g fingers, toes etc – as it can cause tissue damage

Elevate the affected area – this particularly applies to bleeding limbs. By lifting the arm or leg you can redirect the flow of blood back into the body

In life-threatening cases, you may have to apply a tourniquet – a tight knot around the affected area designed to stop the flow of blood completely. This is an emergency measure (for example, in the case of amputations) and not recommended for less severe bleeds.

Of course, as well stopping the flow of blood and stabilising the victim, you may need to seek further medical attention – essential if the wound or bleeding is heavy to severe. Bear in mind too, that blood loss can lead to shock, so it’s important to act quickly and look out for possible signs of shock including: low pulse rate, feeling faint, weak or nauseous, dizziness and cold and clammy skin. So please remember that stopping bleeding can really help save lives and having the correct first aid kit is essential. Stay safe out there and take care!