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First Aid & Emergencies

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Bleeding Cuts or Wounds

Call 911 if:

  • Bleeding is severe
  • You suspect internal bleeding
  • There is an abdominal or chest wound
  • Bleeding can't be stopped after 10 minutes of firm and steady pressure
  • Blood spurts out of wound

1. Stop Bleeding

  • Apply direct pressure on the cut or wound with a clean cloth, tissue, or piece of gauze until bleeding stops.
  • If blood soaks through the material, don’t remove it. Put more cloth or gauze on top of it and continue to apply pressure.
  • If the wound is on the arm or leg, raise limb above the heart to help slow bleeding.
  • Wash your hands again after giving first aid and before cleaning and dressing the wound.
  • Do not apply a tourniquet unless the bleeding is severe and not stopped with direct pressure.

2. Clean Cut or Wound

  • Gently clean with soap and warm water. Try to rinse soap out of wound to prevent irritation.
  • Don’t use hydrogen peroxide or iodine, which can damage tissue.

3. Protect the Wound

  • Apply antibiotic cream to reduce risk of infection and cover with a sterile bandage.
  • Change the bandage daily to keep the wound clean and dry.

4. When to Call a Doctor

  • The wound is deep or the edges are jagged or gaping open.
  • The wound is on the person’s face.
  • The wound has dirt or debris that won’t come out.
  • The wound shows signs of infection, such as redness, tenderness, or a thick discharge, or if the person runs a temperature over 100º F.
  • The area around the wound feels numb.
  • Red streaks form around the wound.
  • The person has a puncture wound or deep cut and hasn’t had a tetanus shot in the past five years, or anyone who hasn’t had a tetanus shot in the past 10 years.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood, MD on December 05, 2013

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