How Many Tourniquets Should You Carry?

Dietrich Easter


You've joined the guild of EDC medical gear. Now you're wondering about specifics. How many tourniquets should you carry? Where should you carry them? What types of tourniquets are easiest to carry? What if you don’t have the money for tons a tourniquets?


How many tourniquets you should carry can range from 1 to 10. The exact number will depend on three main points: the people you need to protect, the environment, and your carrying capacity.


For example, if you’re just carrying for yourself, one tourniquet may be sufficient. However, if you’re carrying tourniquets for several people (your family), you’ll need more.


As far as environment, if you’re in the military, law enforcement, or EMS/Fire, then you’re more likely to be in a situation that requires multiple tourniquets.


Finally, capacity. You can’t just duct tape tourniquets to your torso (I guess you could), you need the right system, so that you actually carry your tourniquets, instead of letting them hide in your closet.


I'll break this down in the sections below. As you read, you'll find relevant information about the types of tourniquets, how to carry them, and how to deploy them. 


Let's solve this. 

How Many Tourniquets to Carry: Different Groups 

Here's a general rule: at least one. 


If you aren’t carrying any tourniquets, don't overcomplicate things: buy a tourniquet, learn how to use it, and carry it everywhere. 


Here’s the groups we cover: 


  • Individuals

  • Police officers

  • EMS/Ambulance crews 

  • Parents/General First Aid Kits


At the end of this article, we'll cover some inexpensive ways to carry multiple tourniquets (and maximize versatility). 

How Many Tourniquets Should One Person Carry? 

For your individual first aid kit or IFAK, carrying one tourniquet should be sufficient. However, redundancy is always smart. 


With that said, when we're talking about an EDC medical kit, there's a fine line between redundancy and bulk. 


If your kit is too bulky, you're less likely to carry it - defeating the whole purpose. 


So, for an average civilian, carrying one tourniquet on your person is sufficient. If you want to carry more, go for it. 

How Many Tourniquets Should Police Officers Carry? 

All police officers should carry a tourniquet. If an officer sustains a wound to the leg, or sustains multiple wounds, then having multiple tourniquets could be lifesaving (sometimes you need two tourniquets).


Also, police officers are routinely in positions to apply tourniquets to civilians. Having two tourniquets ensures an officer can apply a tourniquet to a civilian while still having one ready for themselves. 


Note: You should always store tourniquets unpackaged and ready to go. A tourniquet is of no use if you can't find it! There are multiple carry options for the SOF Tourniquet or the CAT

How Many Tourniquets Should Ambulances Have? 

Paramedics and EMTs have state regulations around how many tourniquets need to be on their ambulance. However, this varies based on location. Some areas may not have specific requirements.


For example, this inventory document from Michigan only requires ambulances to have one arterial tourniquet. Whether this is sufficient is debatable, and most ambulances carry many more.


Note: If you’re a SWAT medic, or part of a tactical casualty care certified team, you may want to carry an active shooter kit. These kits have several tourniquets attached to the exterior of the bag – ready to go.

How Many Tourniquets Should Be in Family First Aid Kit? 

In a family first aid kit, you'll need to consider the situations you might encounter. 


If you'll be camping for an extended period, or you're going on a long road trip, you may want to carry more. 


Also, make sure everyone in your family knows how to use the tourniquet. Husband, wife, and kids if they're able. Why? 


If you're the only one who knows how to use the tourniquet, then who will help you if you go down? Also, does everyone know how to self-apply a tourniquet? 


Pro trick: On the ambulance, paramedics store tourniquets in multiple locations. Maybe one in their pocket, two in the trauma bag, one in the cabinet. Why? Because it always keeps a tourniquet within reach. You can do the same. Carry one on your person, one in the glovebox, one in the kitchen – keep them ready.

How to Carry Your Tourniquets 

So, once you've determined how many tourniquets to carry, it's time to answer the question: how do you carry them? 


Well, let's go over several ways to carry a tourniquet:  

  • On your belt 

  • On Your Ankle 

  • In a Pocket 

  • Bonus section: carrying multiple tourniquets on a budget


Below, we explore the pros and cons of each of these carry options. 

Carrying a Tourniquet on Your Belt 

Carrying a tourniquet on your belt would be practical for several people. 


Here they are:  

  1. Police officer 

  2. Paramedic/EMT

  3. Guides/Expedition


If you'd like, you can carry a tourniquet on your belt. However, for daily use, most people want to be more discreet. 

Carry the Tourniquet on Your Ankle 

An ankle medical kit is one of the most convenient ways to carry medical gear every day. 


A good ankle kit can carry multiple tourniquets. 


Some people feel worried about bulk. It's true; you won't easily fit tight jeans over an ankle medical kit. However, with normal straight-fit pants, it's pretty easy to conceal – and surprisingly comfortable. Once you get used to it, it’s like wearing a watch. 


Trick: You can carry two ankle medical kits. This might be too much for some people. However, others may prefer to carry two slim ankle kits instead of one super bulky kit. (Or you could dedicate one ankle kit to bleeding control and one ankle kit to airway management)

How to Carry a Tourniquet in Your Pocket 

You can also carry a tourniquet in your pocket; this is convenient during the hot summer when you might wear shorts. 


The best tourniquets for your pocket:  


If you're interested, you can get a pocket trauma kit tightly sealed for the best portability. If you wear cargo shorts/pants, a full kit will fit in your pocket nicely. 

How to Carry Multiple Tourniquets on a Budget 

If you can, it's wise to have at least two tourniquets of the same type. For example, if you choose to buy a SOF Tourniquet, you should get a second one for training. 


Note: In general, manufacturers don't advise you to use the same tourniquet for both training and daily carry. Why? Well, if someone doesn't know how to use the tourniquet, they could potentially damage it during training. This is unlikely, but you don't want to take risks with a life-saving piece of equipment. 


How to carry multiple tourniquets on a budget:  

  1. Learn how to improvise a tourniquet. You can improvise a tourniquet with a triangular bandage or even a T-shirt. 

  2. Carry a SWAT-T. These tourniquets are less expensive. Keep in mind, though these tourniquets are a great tool, they are not CoTCCC recommended for combat use.

  3. Carry a versatile trauma dressing. You can improvise bandages like the OLAES and the Israeli Bandage to work like tourniquets - good as a backup if needed. 


Let’s wrap things up.

Key Takeaway on How Many Tourniquets to Carry

Only you can decide how many tourniquets you need to carry. However, when you’re making the decision, factor in the people you need to protect, the environment you’re in, and your carrying capacity.


Take the time to practice tourniquet application. Really practice. Make sure you've mastered the tourniquet.