woman examining injured man’s leg

How to Make an Improvised Splint

When you’re hiking or exploring the outdoors, it’s all too common for someone to slip and sprain their ankle or fall and break their wrist. In wilderness first aid training, you learn that one of the most important things to do for a leg or arm injury on-site is to splint the limb. However, what do you do if there are no medical supplies? Good news: you can easily improvise a splint with materials you’re likely to have on hand.

A good split should both immobilize and support the injured limb while also allowing access to the hand or foot to check circulation. To start your splint, find something you can use to pad the limb, such as clothing or even a camping mattress. You’ll also need something straight and stiff to provide rigidity, like a trekking pole or even a sturdy branch.

Before you apply the splint, attend to any bleeding. Wilderness first aid training will teach you that one of the most dangerous things you can do outdoors is let a wound bleed freely. Apply pressure until the bleeding stops and then apply your improvised padding. Next, place the rigid part of your splint so that it rests on the joint both above and below the injury, sandwiching the limb. Finally, fasten the splint using rope, torn clothing, or something similar. Avoid tying your fasteners directly on the injury.