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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 lose a lot of blood, become unresponsive or develop shock. Shock does not mean emotional shock; it 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 monitor them in case they become unresponsive.

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's 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.

1. Press it: apply direct pressure to the wound

2. Call 999/112 for emergency help

3. Firmly secure dressing with a bandage

4. Treat for shock

5. Support the injured part

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