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How To Make A Tourniquet With Everyday Household Items

A tourniquet might save your life when you are out in the wild hunting, and an injury occurs. When your arm or your leg is injured, your first action should be to stop the bleeding, and this is where a tourniquet comes in. While there are commercial tourniquets, you can improvise one with ease at home or in the wild to save a life.

To improvise a tourniquet, you need three items:

  • A material that you wrap around the injury
  • A windlass which is a rigid material you will use to tighten the material, and
  • A securing mechanism such as a rubber band that holds the windlass to keep it from unwinding

The best way to improvise a tourniquet, you need to check what you have. A hunter for instance has a penknife which they can use. 

Tourniquet Material

The material you use to improvise a tourniquet should be at least one-and-a-half inches thick. However, when you are out in the wild hunting, you have no time or means to measure. Estimate the width. A material thinner than 1.5 inches may not stop blood flow, but instead, it will damage your nerves. If all you can find is a material less than 1.5 inches, wrap it around your limb, placing one pass close to the previous to occupy at least 1.5 inches of skin. Note that some of the largest arteries in your body are about the size of your thumb, and as such, they need enough compression.

Some of the materials you can use to make a tourniquet include:

  • Scarves
  • Bandanas
  • Neckerchiefs
  • Necktie
  • Nylon webbing
  • Ace bandage
  • Any other fabric long enough to wrap around your limb

However, avoid belts or zip ties unless they are the only options.


A windlass needs to be a sturdy material. If you are out in the wild hunting or hiking, a stick is the most accessible and ideal windlass. Find a smooth and sturdy stick to twist the material to stop bleeding. If you are at home, you can cut a piece of a broom handle and use it as a windlass.

Again, a penknife, which is easy to hold and use, can be used as a tourniquet in the wild. Penknives have smooth sides and are sturdy enough to twist the material. 

Unless you are out of options, do not use pens and pencils, and do not rely on your hands to twist the material. Again, a windlass should be belittled when you are improvising a tourniquet. The success of your first aid will depend on the amount of pressure you apply above the injury.

Securing Mechanism

Once you have placed a windlass vertically on your limb above the wound and wrapped the material, twist the windlass to compress the limb enough to stop bleeding. You will need something to hold the windlass down to ensure it does not unwind. If the windlass unravels, the tourniquet will be a failure.

You can use rubber bands or hair ties to secure the tourniquet and prevent unwinding.

Using a Tourniquet

All the material you choose for the tourniquet should be clean. If you are in a place where you cannot access clean materials, use the tourniquet at least two inches off the wound to ensure the injury is not contaminated. 

A tourniquet is not a cure; it is only a means to stop bleeding before medics arrive. After wrapping the tourniquet above the wound, ensure that you assess the injury and call for help. If you are using the tourniquet on yourself, ensure that you wrap it tight enough to stop blood flow. Since you may not use the injured limb, you might have to use a simple tourniquet with only material and your hand. 

If you are injured, a tourniquet is not your only option. The first option should be to try and stop the bleeding by applying pressure using your hands. If the wound is not so big, applying pressure using your hands will help. If you use an improvised tourniquet and you are far from the hospital, loosen it every 30 minutes to allow blood flow to your limb.

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