Keeping Kids Healthy Advice
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, is a first-aid technique used to keep people who have stopped breathing and whose heart has stopped beating, alive while medical help is on the way.
CPR can be an extremely important skill for a parent to learn. If the brain goes without oxygen for more than 5 minutes, brain cells begin to die rapidly. Eight minutes without oxygen-rich blood can result in permanent brain damage or death. It may be necessary to administer CPR during many different emergencies, such as near drowning, choking, blood loss, electric shock, carbon monoxide poisoning, heart attack, stroke and drug overdose.
CPR has two main goals – to get blood flowing through the body so that it will reach the brain and to keep air flowing in and out of the lungs. CPR consists of two basic actions – blowing forcefully into the victim’s mouth to push air in to the lungs and pushing on the victim’s chest to get their blood flowing from their heart.
Reading about how to give CPR, as you are about to do, is helpful and will give you a basic understanding of it, but we strongly recommend that you take a CPR course. Call your local chapter of the American Heart Association, as they offer basic life support courses and have certified instructors that use videos, printed materials and demonstrations on mannequins to teach proper CPR techniques. CPR is a skill and must be practiced, so the course should be repeated every 2 years. This will also allow you to keep up with any new advances in CPR techniques.
CPR is most successful when administered as soon as possible. It should only be performed on someone that is not breathing and whose blood is not circulating adequately.
The following are basic steps of CPR:
In order for CPR to work, the person must be lying on his or her back on a flat surface.
If the victim is a child, it is important that you perform CPR for 1 minute BEFORE you call 911. If the victim is an adult, call 911 first.
Check to see if the victim is breathing and that there is nothing blocking his or her airway.
If the person is not breathing, breathe twice into the victim’s mouth. This is known as ‘rescue breathing’ and forces air into their lungs.
If rescue breathing alone does not work, you will have to begin chest compression. Position hands in the center of the chest.
Firmly push down on the chest 15 times.
Give two more breaths and pump 15 more times until help arrives.
Even though these steps may sound simple, they must be performed in a specific sequence to accurately mimic the body’s natural breathing pattern and the way that the heart pumps. Taking a course in CPR will not only teach you this sequence, but will teach you to be effective in an emergency and you overcome the panic that people sometimes feel when put in this type of situation. Call the American Heart Association at 1-800-242-8721 to find out where CPR courses are being held locally.