Severe bleeding can come from an artery (arterial bleeding) or from a vein (venous bleeding). In arterial bleeding, the blood pumps or spurts from the wound with each heartbeat. In major venous bleeding, the blood just runs out of the wound at a steady rate. The arterial bleeding is bright red compared to the dark red of venous bleeding. Minor bleeding (from capillaries), however, can also be bright red.
Remove any obvious loose debris or dirt from a wound. However, DO NOT remove an object such as a knife, stick, or arrow from the body. Doing so may cause more damage and increase the amount of bleeding. Place pads and bandages around the object and tape the object in place.
Immediately place several sterile dressings or the first clean cloth at hand (towels, sheets, shirts, or handkerchiefs) over the wound and apply direct pressure. The pressure must be forceful and continuous. You can often apply this pressure with the palm of your hand. Act quickly because the ongoing blood loss can cause shock. Continue the pressure until help arrives. DO NOT remove a dressing if it becomes soaked with blood. Instead, add a new one on top. DO NOT try to clean a large wound. This can cause heavier bleeding. DO NOT apply a tourniquet to control arterial bleeding, except as a last resort.
Have someone call a rescue squad immediately while you tend to the bleeding.
Have your child lie down with the feet elevated 10 to 12 inches to prevent symptoms of shock (low blood pressure). If your child is pale and the hands and feet are cold, shock is imminent.
Drive to the nearest emergency room. Call the rescue squad (911) for major bleeding or if your child is clearly in shock.
Have your child lie down with the feet elevated 10 to 12 inches to prevent symptoms of shock.