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How to Cut Off Your Arm to Save Your Life

Hopefully, you’ll never have to cut off your own arm in order to survive. But if you ever find yourself in that predicament, here’s what you need to know to save your life.


  • Step 1: Break the bones Find a way to break the bones in your arms. It’s not easy to cut through bone, unless you happen to have a power tool on you.
  • Step 2: Put on a tourniquet Before you attempt to cut off your arm, tie a tourniquet several inches above the amputation site with whatever you have on hand, like a piece of cloth or a belt. Without it, you could bleed to death when you sever an artery.
  • Step 3: Start sawing Start sawing through your skin and muscles, trying to avoid major arteries until the end. The tendons will be the hardest parts to cut through; if you have a pair of pliers, use them to twist and snap the tougher ones.
  • TIP: Be prepared for an excruciating burning sensation.
  • Step 4: Brace yourself Brace yourself for the worst part of your ordeal: snipping through the nerves. This will be the most painful part of cutting off your arm.
  • Step 5: Bandage the stump Once you’ve completely cut off your arm, undo the tourniquet and wrap the stump in whatever material you have on hand. Get medical attention as soon as possible.
  • FACT: The movie 127 Hours is based on the story of Aron Ralston, an experienced hiker and climber who cut off his own arm with a pocketknife in 2003 after it had been trapped beneath a boulder for 5 days.

You Will Need

  • Tourniquet
  • Cutting instrument
  • Swathing material
  • Courage
  • Pliers (optional)

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