How to make a sling

Alternative names
Sling - instructions

A sling is a device used to support and immobilize an injured part of the body (in particular, an injured shoulder, arm, or collarbone).

If an injury needs a splint, apply the splint first, and then apply the sling.

Always check the victim’s circulation (skin color, pulse) after the injured body part has been immobilized.


Slings can be used for many different injuries, but most typically for arm or shoulder fractures, or dislocations. Any time there is a broken bone, stabilizing the area is important.


See the information about fractures and dislocations.

First Aid

  1. Care for all wounds first before applying a splint or sling.
  2. To make a triangular sling, cut a triangle out of a piece of cloth that measures approximately 5 feet wide at the base and at least 3 feet long on the sides. Alternatively, a large square piece of cloth can be folded diagonally into a triangle. If the sling is to be used by a child, the size can be reduced.
  3. To place the sling, put the victim’s elbow at the top point of the triangle, and the wrist midway along the triangle’s bottom edge. Bring the two free points up around the front and back of the same (or opposite) shoulder, and pin or tie together. Adjust the height of the knot so the the elbow is bent at a right angle.
  4. If no cloth is available from which to cut a triangular pattern, you can make a sling from a coat or a shirt. Apply the sling in much the same manner as shown in the pictures associated with this text. You can also fashion slings from belts, ropes, vines, or sheets.
  5. If the injured arm should be immobilized, tie the sling to the body with another piece of cloth wrapped around the chest and tied on the uninjured side.
  6. Occasionally check for tightness, and adjust the sling as necessary.

Do Not

Do not make any attempts to realign an injured body part unless it appears as though circulation is impaired (pale or blue skin, loss of pulse).

Call immediately for emergency medical assistance if

  • The victim has a dislocation, broken bone, or if there is severe bleeding.  
  • You cannot completely immobilize the injury at the scene by yourself.


Safety is the best way to avoid broken bones caused by falling. Some diseases make bones break more easily, so use caution when assisting a person with fragile bones.

Avoid activities that strain the muscles or bones for long periods of time as these can cause weakness and falls. Also, use appropriate caution when walking on slippery or uneven surfaces.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.