How to use the harness correctly


Harnesses are tight ribbons that are used to completely stop the flow of blood to a wound. To control bleeding after a limb injury, harnesses should ideally only be used by those who provide first aid trained to provide first aid. Knowing when (and when not to) use a tourniquet to control bleeding can be difficult to determine.

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Even with proper use, tourniquet complications can cause serious tissue damage. However, in case of heavy bleeding and emergencies involving life or death, proper use of the tourniquet is an effective way to stop bleeding and maintain the victim’s condition until he or she can receive proper medical care.

Emergency scenarios in which a civilian may need a harness include car accidents, gunshot wounds, deep cuts, or a broken limb related to work trauma. 

Most people will never find themselves in a situation that requires the use of a commercial harness. However, if you ever find yourself in one of those situations, knowing how to use the tourniquet correctly could save someone’s life.

Necessary Materials

If you are a specialist in first aid or emergency medical care, you will likely have access to commercial harness. However, if you are a civilian facing an emergency scenario, you are unlikely to have a tourniquet available and will have to improvise.

Remember-the most important priority is your own safety. Before providing first aid, make sure it is safe for you.

Studies have shown that improvised harnesses are effective up to 60% of the time. While this may not seem conclusive, as long as you have the materials and knowledge needed to properly use a makeshift harness in an emergency, any attempt to stop bleeding is probably better than doing nothing.

To assemble a makeshift harness, you’ll need two pieces: triangular bandage and something you can use as a winch, as a stick. Other items you may have on hand that you can use include belts, shirts, or towels.

In case of emergency, but especially when it comes to body fluids such as blood, be sure to comply universal precautions. If available personal protective equipment. use them before you start providing first aid.

Harness placement procedure

Anyone can impose a tourniquet. While you don’t need any formal or special medical certification or training, you need to understand how to use it correctly.

The first step you should take in any emergency is to call 911 to alert emergency services. If someone else is with you, give them the task of calling 911 while caring for the injured person.

Harnesses are designed for injuries to the extremities and not can be used for head or torso injuries. A head or torso injury requires applying pressure with a material that can absorb blood to slow or stop bleeding. 

The use of the harness is only intended to be a temporary measure to buy time while waiting for the arrival of medical personnel. If a person is bleeding a lot and there is no help nearby, they may bleed before the first rescuers arrive and receive the necessary medical care.

When placing a tourniquet, your goal is to limit blood flow to the injured limb to prevent life-threatening blood loss. While squeezing a limb to block its blood supply is a temporary measure, if done correctly, it will slow or stop the bleeding long enough for rescuers to have time to get to the scene.

Find the source

Before applying a tourniquet, it is necessary to determine the source of bleeding. In some cases, such as near or complete amputation of a limb, this may be obvious. Other injuries may be imperceptible at first, especially if there is debris, debris, broken clothing, or other items that interfere with your check-up.

If possible, ask the affected person to lie down so that he or she can be evaluated from head to toe. Try to stay calm and focused, as you will need to find the source of the bleeding as quickly as possible.


Once you have identified the source, start by pressing directly on the wound to stop the bleeding. If the bleeding does not decrease or stop when pressed, you will need to find (or secure) the tourniquet.

If the victim is conscious and awake, tell him or her that he or she will place a tourniquet on his or her wound. Unfortunately, the process of tourniquet placement can be extremely painful and a person is likely to already experience severe pain. Let the person know that imposing the tourniquet will cause pain, but it can save the limb, if not your life.

Then cut, tear, or remove any clothing near the wound. The tourniquet should be applied to bare skin.

Place the harness

Place a cloth, towel, or other material to be used for the harness on the limb a few inches from the injury. You will need to place a tourniquet on the part of the limb closest to the heart. For example, if the injury is below the knee or elbow, you will need to tie a tourniquet above the joint.

Use a regular square knot (such as tying shoelaces, but without a loop) to tie the harness around the limb.

The Red Cross recommends applying the turnstile on 2 inches above the wound and never put directly into the joint.

Add a winch

You will need a stick or other object strong enough to act as a winch. A winch is a lever with which the harness can be tightened. Anything can be used as a winch as long as it is strong enough to hold the harness and can be secured in place. Consider using pens or pencils, sticks, or spoons.

Place your winch in the knot you made, then tie the loose ends of the harness around it with another square knot.

Rotate to tighten

Start turning the winch to increase the pressure. Watch for bleeding and watch when it starts to decrease. Continue to turn the winch until the bleeding stops or decreases significantly.  

Once the bleeding subsides or stops, secure the winch by tying one or both ends to the victim’s arm or leg.

Mark the time

Harnesses can only be applied at specific intervals, no more than two hours. Therefore, for those who provide first aid and the medical staff treating the injury, it will be very important to know when a tourniquet has been placed.

If possible, mark with the letter “T” the date and time you placed the tourniquet on the person’s forehead or other area that is clearly visible to emergency personnel.


Compressor never it should not be weakened or removed by someone other than a doctor in the emergency room.

Common Harness overlay errors

Even if you know how to use the harness correctly, it is possible to make mistakes. In an emergency, you may not have enough help or resources, and you are likely to encounter many distractions.

Listed below are possible errors to consider when applying the harness:

  • Waiting too long: You must immediately remove heavy bleeding for tourniquet application to be successful. When an injured person loses too much blood, it can fall into shock.
  • Free use: Loose harnesses are ineffective as they do not reduce arterial blood flow enough.
  • Do not put a second harness: A tourniquet is usually enough to stop heavy bleeding, however a person with large hands may need a second tourniquet. 
  • Weakening– Tightening and loosening the tourniquet, rather than constantly tightening it, allows blood to re-enter the wound. If the blood returns to the wound, it can damage the blood vessels. 
  • Too long abandonment: the Tourniquet should not be left for longer than in two hours. When applied longer, harnesses can cause permanent damage to muscles, nerves, and blood vessels.
  • Use of incorrect materials: Unsuitable materials, such as wire, can be cut into the skin. Not only does this make the tourniquet ineffective, but it can also cause even more pain or lead to more injuries.

The best way to prevent errors is to be informed about how to use the tourniquet and practice the correct technique of overlapping it.

Harnesses in first aid kits

A 2018 study published in journal of the American college of surgeons, he confirmed that turnstiles can and do save lives, even if they are used by civilians. In the study, the researchers sought to determine the impact of civilian use of harnesses on mortality.

When civilians performed a pre-hospital tourniquet application, the risk of mortality was six times lower in patients with peripheral vascular lesions (blunt injury to the extremities). 

Although they work in emergency situations, commercial harnesses are not available in first aid kits. This is mainly because harnesses should only be used in the worst case when there are no other options, as there are usually other ways to properly control bleeding in most injuries.

However, in an emergency, a commercial turnstile would be preferable to a makeshift one. Commercial use turnstiles are made of recommended materials and specifications, making them more efficient and easy to use. Commercial turnstiles are also more suitable to minimize risk when used.

You can add a tourniquet to your home first aid kit, as items normally included in these kits may not be enough to help in case of heavy bleeding. If you are working with those who are at the highest risk of bleeding injuries or complications from heavy bleeding, or caring for them, such as young children and the elderly, you should have an affordable tourniquet and the knowledge of how to use it correctly.

Whether you’re a healthcare professional, a first aid specialist, a student, or a parent, knowing how to use a tourniquet can be a vital skill.

Frequently asked questions

  • It’s not perfect. The straps are too stiff to be tightened with a winch. Other items that are not suitable for use as a harness are ties, as they are too thin and zip ties, which can also cause severe pain. nerve damage.

  • About two hours. At this point, a lot of damage can occur, including nerve damage, blood vessel damage, and necrosis skin (skin cell death). After six hours, there is likely to be enough muscle tissue damage to be needed amputate affected limb.

  • It is best not to apply the tourniquet immediately. First apply direct pressure to the wound with absorbent material for at least 10 minutes. That’s the amount of time it will take for the blood to clot and stop the bleeding. If this does not happen, then a tourniquet should be used.

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