Triangle bandages are compact and lightweight. Their most common and well known propose is for a basic arm sling. For review, we added the basic arm sling as #1 on our list and a video. But they can be used for so much more. Here are 10 different ways to use a triangle bandage:
1. Basic Arm Sling:
With any type of sling, the goal is to create a supportive, adjustable, and comfortable sling for the patient. At the apex of the bandage, tie a small knot. This creates a nice pocket for the elbow to rest in and a more secure sling. Next, position the knot at the elbow, and rest the arm in the triangle bandage. The usual angle is just below 90 degrees but may be decided by the patient and what position feels best. Take the two long ends of the bandage and tie the together around the neck on the other side of the injury. Keep in mind that this knot may create a painful pressure point. For maximum patient comfort try to position the knot just below the collarbone as opposed to right over the shoulder. If this can not be avoided, pad the underside of the knot with extra clothing or bundled gauze.
Lastly, we want to secure the sling for increased stability. This is called the swath and it can be improvised with a variety of items like gauze, ace bandage, another triangle bandage, or some other soft and adjustable material. Do not use tape.
A large amount of body heat is lost through the head. A triangle bandage can be fashioned to act as a hat replacement or on hypothermic patients if a hat is not available. This is very important for hypothermia victims. To learn more about how the body loses heat and becomes hypothermic read this blog post.
3. Pressure Dressing
A pressure dressing can be used from minor to major cuts and bleeds. A gauze roll, pad, or folded triangle bandage should be firmly applied against the bleeding wound for at least 5 to 10 minutes. Secure the dressing in place with another triangle bandage to maintain pressure.
This bandage is not yummy like a doughnut, but it does look like one. Doughnut bandages are used to stabilize impaled objects like tree branches, ice axes, etc. Never remove an impaled object unless it interferes with breathing or CPR. Doughnut bandages are ideal for the rare globe luxation injury, or a.k.a. when the eye is pulled out of its socket. While rare, it is possible...pro basketball player, Allan Ray, is an example.
5. Improvised tourniquet
A triangle bandage is ideal as an improvised tourniquet to stop life-threatening bleeds. You can learn about how to make this life saving tourniquet and other bleed control treatments in our Outdoor Safety Online course.
6. Pelvic Sling
Pelvis fractures commonly cause heavy internal bleeding, leading to death. Pelvis fractures are often the result of falls or high speed impacts like during rock climbing, mountaineering, or skiing. The best treatment is to stabilize the pelvis by wrapping a wide cloth around the hips and twisting the ends together. A triangle bandage is perfect for this job!
Triangle bandages can also be used as binding for splints. As always, after any kind of splinting or stabilizing, check for decreased circulation, movement, and sensation (or CMS). To learn more about how to check for CMS, see this blog post. It is really useful to know because it will help you determine how bad a wound or fracture is.
8. Replacement Mitten
If you love winter adventures then you are very aware that a missing or lost glove can cause major discomfort. Or worse, it could lead to frostnip or frostbite. Once again, triangle bandage to the rescue! Simply drape the center body of the triangle over the hand. Then use the longer ends to wrap around the wrist and tie. Be sure to run one strand between the thumb and fingers. And do not wrap so tightly that it cuts off circulation! Decreased blood flow makes for a colder hand. For increased warmth, add insulation like a t-shirt, gauze, or spare hat before wrapping everything up in the bandage. Learn how to treat and how to thaw frost bite here.
9. Cooling Cloth
When’s hot there is nothing more refreshing than a cold towel or scarf wrapped around your neck. A triangle bandage can be dipped in water and be placed around the head or neck to cool off. In cases of heat stroke, the best way to cool someone is through cold water submersion. But most people will not have this treatment option available. The next best treatment is to wet clothing, or to drape a bare patient in a thin wet cloth, and fan. This allows for evaporation and rapid heat loss from the body. Yep, you guessed it. The triangle bandage can be used here as well. Heat stroke and other heat illness treatment is thought in our online Outdoor Safety Course.
While it will not filter out microorganisms, a triangle bandage can still filter out larger debis item floating in water. Fold the bandage over the top of the water bottle mouth a few times. The more layers, the finer the filtering. Secure with a rubber band or hair tie or paracord. Finally, just add water!
Now, where can you get a triangle bandage? They can be purchased from stores like REI or you can easily make your own out of the material of your choice. Just take a 3ft by 3 ft square piece of material and cut it diagonally.
Did you learn a new use for a triangle bandage? You can find more information like this in our online courses. We offer the first and only Outdoor Safety Online course, as well as 100% online WFA , WFR, and WEMT recertification.