The best tourniquet for self-application is the tactical/one-hand tourniquet.
The SOFTT-W Tourniquet is my favorite for self-application.
I happened to practice them on myself a lot as a seller of survival gear and as a soldier and I will give you my top 3 recommended tourniquets that are self-applied here.
Back in the days when I was a soldier in the Israeli army, the way that we were taught to perform an arterial blocker was by using an improvisation of a triangular bandage with a small rod that we could find on the nearest point on the ground.
Some of us were lucky and got more “advanced” tourniquets in the shape of a silicone band.
Needless to say that stopping a massive wound from bleeding was a hard task to perform and often required 2 or even 3 people.
Thank god, those days are over and with the help of technology, we now can own a much better solution in the shape of the tactical tourniquet.
These tourniquets are so effective that they will do a much better job in blood stopping and can be applied by anyone(a bit of practice is required), in fact, they are so effective and easy to use that they can be used for self-application even with one hand, this is why sometimes they referred to as one-handed tourniquets.
The tactical tourniquets come with a built-in rod which is referred to as windlass(no need to look for a rod around you anymore), they are made of materials that prevent slack(slack is known as a big problem when applying a tourniquet in a bloody organ), and are easy to release.
They also come with a time stamp where you can write the time you applied the tourniquet instead of writing it on the injured person’s body.
You can read here on my site this relevant and important post regarding Wound Dressing Procedure Steps.
Best tourniquets for self-application
Like I have mentioned, while I was selling survival gear I was lucky to have the chance to “play” and experiment on myself with lots of kinds of tourniquets from the most popular brands.
I tried to apply the different tourniquets on myself, using 2 hands and one hand only, I tried it on my legs and arm.
I didn’t read any guides or instructions before using the different tourniquets, I admit that I do have a bit of experience with applying a tourniquet, I felt that these 3 tourniquets were very easy to understand and I managed to apply them intuitively without any problems.
I really think that those 3 tourniquets were above the rest and any person without any medical experience can learn how to use them correctly quite fast with a bit of training of course.
Those 3 tactical tourniquets might be a bit pricier than others but they are worth every penny, I strongly recommend buying 2 of the same type and use 1 of them for practicing purposes.
Please pay attention, there are a lot of fake tourniquets that look exactly like the popular brands but are made of poor quality, it is important to buy a tourniquet for a trusted and known place.
1.CAT Combat Application Tourniquet – GEN 7
The CAT is maybe the most popular tourniquet in the world and it is the official choice of the US Army and other armies around the world.
The CAT in its new version, the GEN7 has a heavier and stronger windlass and buckle and it is extremely easy to apply even with one hand.
You can check it here on Amazon.
A video example of self-application with the Cat Gen 7
2.SOFTT-W Tourniquet 1.5″
The SOFTT-W 1.5” is the big brother of the previous version which was only 1″ wide.
This version is absolutely great, not only that it is wider and will provide better arterial blockage, it is very strong and durable, built from durable steel and nylon and has an amazing new buckle design, in my opinion, the
A video example of self-application with the SOFTT-W
3. Recon Medical Gen 4
I admit that I was surprised when I first saw the Pretty cheap Recon medical Gen 4 tourniquet.
Although it comes with a much cheaper price than the other 2 on this list, it is not a joke at all, in fact, it is an amazing tourniquet, made of kevlar and metal windlass which makes it very durable and reliable.
It is basically working with the same principle as the first 2 which is by applying pressure on the wounded limb by turning of the windlass and it comes also with a built-in time stamp.
I can be quite confident to recommend this tourniquet for people without the fear that it will fail someone in a life-threatening situation.
The tactical tourniquet, the next generation: dealing with bleeding wounds
Studies conducted about a decade ago by the us army regarding fatal injuries among soldiers in combat units found that most of them died of blood loss.
Once they managed to put their finger on the cause, the Americans have begun to work on a solution and an advanced tourniquet has been created – a new generation of arterial blockers that creates more pressure per area, much easier to apply and much more effective than the standard tourniquets(a silicon band) that were in use up to that point.
A second product that the Americans created to cope with bleeding injuries was the Hemostatic bandage, a bandage that helps blood clots in a bleeding area, thus helping to save lives on the battlefield(You can read about Hemostatic bandages here).
The use of the tourniquet is not possible in any injury, thus, the combination of the tactical tourniquet with the hemostatic bandages provided an amazing solution for blood Clotting on the battlefield and has helped to save lives in armies around the world.
Both, the tactical tourniquet and the hemostatic bandages are no longer in the use of the military only, in fact, almost any paramedic is equipped with them and in recent years they are an integral part of any quality first aid home kits.
Every person must be equipped with a tourniquet or at least have one available in his home.
I really recommend having a good tactical tourniquet and not just a silicone band as I know how stressful and hard it could be to perform an arterial blocker in real-time.
The tactical tourniquet is not so pricey, and it is recommended to buy at least 2, one will be used for training and the other will remain closed and ready for a real emergency.
Another reason for having at least 2 tourniquets in hand is that sometimes one tourniquet will not be enough to stop bleeding from a major wound, in this case, another tourniquet can be applied.
There is no reason to own a tourniquet if you don’t know how to use it, practicing is essential!
The tactical tourniquets leave A little room for mistakes and are the best tourniquets for self-application so if something bad happens to you can treat yourself immediately without being dependent on someone else’s availability.
When to use a tourniquet
First, we need to understand what the definition of hemorrhage is:
Hemorrhage: Exhaustion of blood from its vessels.
There are 2 kinds of hemorrhage:
- Controlled hemorrhage: a bleeding wound that can be stopped.
- Uncontrolled hemorrhage: Uncontrolled exit of blood from the body.
It is important to understand that hemorrhage can come in many different ways, from accidental bleeding in the eye, which is mostly absorbed over time, to massive bleeding caused by trauma, which is difficult to control and requires surgical intervention.
Large bleeding can cause hypovolemic shock due to blood loss of more than 750 ml, As first aid providers our goal in the field is to stop the bleeding, any visible hemorrhage should be stopped by one of the following techniques:
1 – Direct pressure
2 – Indirect pressure, with priority, always going in the direction of direct pressure, because this method will cause less damage to the organs of the body.
The idea of this method is quite simple and its goal is to apply as much pressure as possible to the bleeding area with the aid of bandaging materials such as the triangular bandage or the Israeli pressure bandage.
Pressure on the blood vessels leading to the source of the bleeding is more effective but damages the blood supply from the blockage and beyond.
Because we usually block major blood vessels, we stop blood supply not only to the bleeding area but also to adjacent areas, thereby damaging the rest of the tissue.
The longer the pressure lasts, the greater the damage to the organ
Indirect pressure is created by means of a tourniquet when it can be done using different methods.
Different types of tourniquets:
Like I have mentioned earlier there are few types of tourniquets, the most common one is the rubber/silicone band, but you can use also the method that I have mentioned in the beginning(triangular bandage and an improvize rod), but, since this article is regarding the best tourniquet for self-application than the tactical tourniquet is the best option by far.
The other tourniquet’s methods cannot be self-applied, especially not by unprofessional paramedics in very stressful situations.
Guidelines for using indirect pressure with tourniquet:
Because indirect pressure is less favored, there are specific guidelines for its use, which are intended to guide and assist the provider of the first aid.
- Full or partial amputation: In the amputation, there is damage to the central blood vessels which can not usually be stopped by direct pressure
- Breathing problem: When there is a problem with breathing, there is no time to handle the direct pressure
- Multiple Injuries: It is necessary to treat a number of casualties quickly and you must handle indirect pressure (even if direct pressure can be treated)
- Shrapnel: If there is shrapnel that is stuck, do not try to remove it! Direct pressure is not effective in this case
- Darkness: In the dark, it is more difficult to estimate the extent of the blood flow, so the most severe form of indirect pressure must be treated
- Direct pressure fails: If we fail to stop the bleeding through direct pressure, try to continue by applying indirect pressure.
Principles for placing a tourniquet:
- Disrobing: Do not apply a tourniquet on a garment. The tourniquet must be applied directly to the body.
- Speed: The tourniquet should be placed quickly, reducing the amount of blood loss.
- Location: The position of the barrier will be 5 cm (about 4 fingers) above the injury location.
- Joints: If possible, the tourniquet should be placed under the joints to maintain the blood supply to them, thus preventing their removal.
- Tying: At the end of placing the tourniquet, tying must be done to prevent accidental loosening(very simple with my recommended tactical tourniquets in this article)
- Registration: The time of placing the tourniquet should be written so that the next attending physician (MDA / hospital) will know when it was placed(The recommended tourniquets in this article contain time stamp for an easy and viewable registration) for further treatment.
The best Tourniquet For Self Application is without a doubt the tactical tourniquet.
A tourniquet is the most important item to have in your first aid kit and I recommend carrying one with you at any time.
Applying a tourniquet on yourself or on somebody else in a life or death situation is a very hard task to perform, thus, requires the best equipment that will be easy to use and will be strong enough and slack-free, this is exactly why you should have in hand at least 2 tourniquets from the list in this article.
Practicing is crucial!! so use one of your tourniquets for practicing until you will become confident enough to know you know how to use it when it is required.