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Severe Bleeding

When bleeding is severe, it can be dramatic and distressing. If someone’s bleeding isn’t controlled quickly, they may develop shock and lose consciousness. Shock does not mean emotional shock, but is a life-threatening condition, often caused by loss of blood.

If someone’s bleeding from their mouth or nose, they may find it hard to breathe, so you should keep a close eye on them in case they become unresponsive.

If there’s an object in their wound, don't press directly onto it, as it will hurt, but leave it in there and bandage around it.

With all open wounds, there’s a risk of infection, so wash your hands and use gloves (if you have any) to help prevent any infection passing between you both.

Poster download: What to do if an adult is bleeding

Watch our video - severe bleeding

What you need to do - severe bleeding

Your priority is to stop the bleeding. Protect yourself by wearing gloves.

If the wound is covered by the casualty's clothing, remove or cut the clothes to uncover the wound.

If there an object in the wound

If there’s an object in there, don’t pull it out, because it may be acting as a plug to reduce the bleeding. Instead, leave it in and apply pressure either side of it with a pad (such as a clean cloth) or fingers, until a sterile dressing is available.

If there's no object in the wound

Follow the steps below for treating severe bleeding.

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