Learn first aid for someone who is bleeding heavily
1. Put pressure on the wound with whatever is available to stop or slow down the flow of blood.
You are acting as a “plug” to stop the blood escaping. The pressure you apply will help the blood clot and stop the bleeding.
2. Call 999 as soon as possible.
If you can’t call 999, get someone else to do it.
3. Keep pressure on the wound until help arrives.
Watch how to help someone who is bleeding heavily (1 minute 28 seconds)
Common questions about first aid for someone who is bleeding heavily
What do I do if the bleeding soaks through the item I've used to press on the wound?
Do not remove it but add more items (like T-shirts and tea towels) and maintain firm pressure.
Call 999 as soon as possible. If you can’t call 999, get someone else to do it.
What should I do if there is an embedded object in the wound?
Do not remove it – it's helping plug the hole and stop the blood flow. Instead, apply pressure around the object.
Removing the object from the wound can make the bleeding much worse.
Should I wash the wound?
Don't wash a wound that is bleeding heavily. You may make it bleed more.
For minor cuts and grazes, you can wash the wound to remove any dirt. You should also wash animal bites with soapy water if they are not bleeding heavily.
The person looks pale, feels cold and is dizzy. What does this mean?
This means there isn’t enough blood flowing through the body. It can be life-threatening because it can very quickly lead to other conditions, such as a lack of oxygen in the body’s tissues, potentially causing a heart attack or organ damage. This physical response to an injury or illness is called shock. It is different to the emotional response to an incident where you may feel “shocked”.
If you suspect someone is going into shock:
- continue to apply pressure to the wound to stop the blood coming out
- call 999 if you haven’t already done so
- lie them down and lift their feet higher than the rest of their body. This keeps their legs higher than their heart, which helps increase blood flow to their brain and heart
- reassure them and wrap them in coats or a blanket to keep them warm.
Should I worry about infection or catching something from their blood?
No, if you don’t have a cut yourself, you are very unlikely to get an infection, or infect them. If you are worried about infection, you can use a plastic bag or plastic gloves as a barrier, or you could get them to use their own hand to put pressure on the wound.
How do I help a child who has a nosebleed?
Find out how to help a child who has a nosebleed.
Email us if you have any other questions about first aid for someone who is bleeding heavily.