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Using Splints in First Aid Situations

Splints are a crucial component of any first aid kit, as they provide crucial support and stability in emergency situations.

What is the purpose of a splint in first aid and how should it be used?

Short Answer: The purpose of a splint is to immobilize and support injured bones, joints, or soft tissues by carefully securing it alongside the injured area

  • Splints help prevent further movement of injured body parts, reducing the risk of additional damage and complications
  • By stabilizing the injured area, splints help alleviate pain and discomfort.
  • A splint should be applied by gently immobilizing and securing it alongside the injured area to minimize the risk of exacerbating the injury.
  • Splints are temporary measures to stabilize injuries until the injured person can receive professional medical care.

The Importance of Splints in First Aid

Splints play a pivotal role in the world of first aid, offering a simple yet crucial solution to stabilize and support injuries. Their importance cannot be overstated, as they serve vital functions that are essential for the well-being of the injured person.

 One of the primary purposes of a splint is to immobilize the injured area, whether it's a fractured bone, a dislocated joint, or a sprained limb. Immobilization helps prevent further movement, which is crucial to reduce pain, prevent additional damage, and minimize the risk of complications.

Splints also offer immediate pain relief by stabilizing the injured area and reducing movement-induced discomfort. By minimizing motion, they create a more comfortable environment for the injured individual.

Uncontrolled movement of injured bones or joints can lead to complications such as further fractures, nerve damage, or muscle strain. Splints effectively reduce the chances of these complications.

In cases where it's necessary to move the injured person, splints provide invaluable support during transportation. For fractures that involve sharp bone ends, splints can help minimize the risk of internal bleeding and tissue damage by keeping the fractured ends in place.

Splints can also be used to support soft tissue injuries like sprains or strains by immobilizing the affected area and reducing swelling. Beyond their physical benefits, splints offer psychological comfort to the injured person by alleviating anxiety and providing reassurance.

Types of Splints to Consider for Your First Aid Kit

When assembling a first aid kit, it's essential to include various types of splints to address a range of potential injuries. Here are some types to consider:

Sam Splint (Aluminum/Foam Splint)

Sam splints are versatile, malleable, and easy to shape to the contours of an injured limb. Sam splints are suitable for stabilizing fractures, sprains, and dislocations.


While not a traditional splint, tourniquets are essential for controlling severe bleeding in limb injuries. Include a commercial tourniquet or a makeshift one (such as a belt) in your kit.

Finger Splints

These small, preformed splints are designed specifically for finger injuries, such as fractures or dislocations. They provide support while allowing limited movement.

Ankle Splint

Ankle splints are typically semi-rigid and designed to immobilize and support ankle injuries, including sprains and fractures. They often have adjustable straps for a secure fit.

Wrist/Forearm Splint

These splints are designed to immobilize and support the wrist and forearm in case of injuries like wrist fractures, sprains, or repetitive strain injuries. They come in various styles, including wrap-around and pre-formed options.

Leg and Arm Splints

Long, padded splints are suitable for stabilizing fractures or dislocations in the arms or legs. They can be custom-shaped to fit the injured limb properly.

Air Splints

These inflatable splints are lightweight and easy to transport. They can be inflated to provide support and immobilization for various limb injuries. Ensure you have an air source included in your kit.

Rigid Splints

These include wooden boards, metal rods, or any rigid material that can be used for immobilizing larger bones, such as the femur or humerus. Ensure they are padded to prevent pressure sores.

Neck Collar

While not technically a splint, neck collars are essential for immobilizing the cervical spine in cases of head or neck injuries. Include an adjustable cervical collar to stabilize the neck and reduce the risk of further damage.

Malleable Splint Material

In addition to pre-made splints, consider including malleable materials like padded cardboard, rolled newspapers, or inflatable splint kits that can be shaped and secured in place using bandages or tape.

Click here to view a compact, moldable splint that can be included in your first aid essentials.


How to Apply a Splint Safely and Effectively in Emergency Situations

In order to apply a splint safely and effectively padding material, bandages or cloth strips, scissors and gloves are necessary. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

1. Assess the Injury

Before applying a splint, carefully assess the injured limb to determine the nature and severity of the injury. Look for signs of swelling, deformity, or an abnormal range of motion.

2. Prepare the Splint

Select an appropriate splint based on the type and location of the injury. If using a rigid splint, pad it with soft material to prevent pressure sores and discomfort.

3. Position the Limb

Gently support the injured limb in the position it was found or in the most comfortable and natural position, considering the type of injury.

4. Apply Padding

Place the padding material around the injured area. Ensure that it covers bony prominences and areas where the splint might apply pressure.

5. Place the Splint

Position the splint alongside the injured limb, providing support along the entire length of the injury (extend beyond the joints both above and below the injury). The splint should not be too tight but snug enough to hold the limb securely.

6. Secure the Splint

Use bandages, tape, or cloth strips to secure the splint in place. Start at the far end of the splint and work your way toward the body, wrapping in a crisscross pattern.

7. Check Circulation

After securing the splint, assess the injured limb's circulation. Look for signs of numbness, tingling, or color changes in the fingers or toes.

8. Reassess and Comfort

Reevaluate the limb to ensure it remains immobilized and stable. Confirm that the injured person is comfortable and that the splint is not causing any undue pain.

9. Elevate and Support

If possible and appropriate, elevate the injured limb to help reduce swelling. Provide additional support, such as using a sling for arm injuries, to minimize movement.

10. Seek Professional Medical Help

While a splint provides essential initial stabilization, it's not a substitute for professional medical care. Ensure the injured person receives prompt medical attention.

Remember that proper splint application requires practice and knowledge.

Tips for Choosing and Storing a Splint in Your First Aid Kit

Selecting the right splint and storing it properly in your first aid kit are essential steps to ensure you're well-prepared for emergencies. Here are some tips:

Choosing the Right Splint

  • Consider the Injury Type

    Different injuries require different types of splints. Understand the most common injuries and choose splints that are suitable for a range of situations.
  • Versatility

    Opt for splints that are adjustable or moldable, like Sam splints or inflatable splints. These can be adapted to various injuries and body shapes.
  • Size Matters

    Ensure your splints are of sufficient length to immobilize the injured area properly.
  • Comfort and Padding

    Look for splints with padded surfaces or include padding material in your kit. Padding increases the comfort of the injured person.
  • Durability

    Choose splints made of durable materials, like aluminum or plastic, that can withstand the rigors of emergency situations.

Storing Your Splint

  • Keep it Clean

    Ensure your splint is stored in a sanitary condition. Place it in a plastic bag or protective cover to prevent contamination from other items in your first aid kit.
  • Regular Inspection

    Periodically check your splint for signs of damage, wear, or deterioration.
  • Prevent Bending

    Store your splint in a way that prevents it from bending or warping. Avoid placing heavy items on top of it that could deform its shape.
  • Organize Your First Aid Kit

    Designate a specific compartment within your first aid kit for your splints. This makes them easily accessible
  • Label and Instructions

    If your splint has specific guidelines for use, keep them with the splint in your first aid kit for future reference.
  • Regular Kit Maintenance

    Regularly review and update your first aid kit by replacing expired or damaged splints.
  • Climate Considerations

    Extreme temperatures can affect the durability of some splint materials. If you live in an area with extreme heat or cold, consider storing your splints in a temperature-controlled environment.
  • Training

    Ensure that you and anyone likely to use the first aid kit are trained in proper splint application.

Click here for a brief description of a first aid kit checklist.


Related Questions

Are there any situations where splinting is not recommended?

Splinting is generally not recommended for neck or back injuries due to the risk of exacerbating spinal cord damage. It should also be avoided if there is any suspicion of a compound fracture where the bone has penetrated the skin, as these injuries require immediate surgical intervention.

Can I make an improvised splint if I don't have one in my first aid kit?

Yes, improvised splints can be made using materials like cardboard, rolled-up newspapers, or clothing. However, it's important to ensure they are padded and provide sufficient support. Improvised splints should be considered a temporary measure until professional medical care can be obtained.


The use of splints in first aid situations is an indispensable skill that can make a significant difference in the outcomes of injuries. Splints are a symbol of preparedness and unwavering commitment to providing aid when it's needed most.


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