Ouch! You’re bleeding! What should you do?

First Aid for bleeding

Ouch! You’re bleeding! What should you do?


  • You’re in the kitchen chopping vegetables for dinner. As you begin picking up speed, you suddenly feel a searing pain on your hand and notice a red spray of blood pouring onto the counter. You look at your hand and realize you’ve cut yourself deeply. It looks really bad.

What should you do?main-qimg-2bd9ee8c5b9015f513448f99364d13f3

Bleeding from an open wound is a common injury that most people experience at least once during their lifetime. Bleeding can range from minor to severe. It can be divided into three types:

  1. Capillary bleeds = Usually a minor wound that doesn’t breech a large blood vessel. This type of wound slowly “oozes” blood. This wound pattern can include scrapes (abrasions) and small cuts.
  2. Veinous bleeds = A wound breeches a vein and heavy bleeding can occur. In some cases this can be life-threatening.
  3. Arterial bleeds = A high-pressure artery is cut, sending blood spurting out of the wound under significant pressure each time the heart beats. This is a life-threatening injury.

To treat a wound, follow these steps:

    • For major bleeding, send someone to call 9-1-1
    • Take gauze from a first aid kit and apply hard, consistent pressure directly on top of the wound.
      • If you don’t have gauze, use any clean piece of cloth instead.
    • If blood soaks through the first piece of gauze, do not remove it. Taking off old gauze might tear out clots and cause bleeding to worsen. Instead, place additional pieces of gauze on top of the original.
    • Maintain hard pressure on top of the wound, until bleeding slows down. This may take several minutes.
  • Once bleeding stops or slows down, use a roller bandage to secure the gauze in place.
    • If the bleeding does not stop -> continue to maintain hard pressure on the wound, and consider the use of a tourniquet, if you are trained to use one.

After taking steps to stop bleeding, check your victim for signs of “shock” – a life-threatening condition that can be caused by significant blood loss. Signs of shock may include:

  • Pale, cool, moist skin
  • Excessive thirst
  • Rapid breathing and/or pulse
  • Dizziness / weakness
  • Nausea / vomiting
  • Anxiety / disorientation

If any of these signs are present after someone has lost a lot of blood:

  • Ensure 9-1-1 is on the way
  • Help the patient lay down flat on the ground
  • Cover him with a blanket
  • Ensure external bleeding remains controlled.

To learn more about these and other skills, sign up for a CPR and First Aid class today!

Visit www.frontlinehealth.com or call 212-983-5389


Note: The outline above is not a substitute for formal  instruction. Please visit www.frontlinehealth.com for more information on taking a full CPR First Aid class.