Emergency advice


  1. Support the casualty.
  2. Start bandaging from the front and injured side.
  3. If triangular bandage used, tie the ends in a reef knot.
  4. Check their circulation.

What are the different types of bandages?

There are three main types of bandages:

  • Roller bandages: use these to support injured limbs, limit swelling, maintain pressure on wounds and hold dressings in place. They can be used particularly for ankles, knees, wrists or elbows.
  • Tubular bandages: use these to support injured joints and hold dressings on fingers or toes. You can use gauze tubular bandage to secure dressings on toes and fingers and is applied to the injury with a special applicator. You can use elasticated tubular bandages to support injured joints such as the elbow or knee.
  • Triangular bandages: use these as slings to support a wrist, arm or shoulder injury, and as a bandage and dressing when folded for large wounds. Find out how to make an arm sling.

For more information on how to bandage different areas of the body, please read our How to bandage a hand and How to put on elbow and knee bandages pages.

What to do

  1. Reassure them and explain what you’re going to do.

    • Help them to sit or lie in a comfortable position.
    • Support the limb or injured part of the body before applying the bandage.
  2. Start bandaging from the front and injured side of the casualty. Apply the bandage firmly, but not so tight that it’s restricting circulation.

    • Leave fingers and toes exposed to help you check their circulation.
  3. Use spiral turns when wrapping the bandage around the limb, working from the inside to the outside of the limb.

  4. Use pins or tape to fasten roller bandages. Otherwise you can tuck the bandage in securely.

  5. Use a reef knot to tie a triangular bandage: right over left and under, then left over right and under.

  6. Once you’ve finished tying the bandage, make sure you check for circulation by pressing on their finger or toe for five seconds until it goes pale.

    • If the colour doesn’t come back after two seconds, then the bandage is too tight, and you will need to reapply more loosely.
    • Check the circulation every 10 minutes.

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Injuries to the soft structure around the bones and joints are commonly called strains and sprains. They are often associated with sports activities.

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When bleeding is severe, it can be dramatic and distressing. Find out what to do.

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