CPR is a crucial skill that everyone should know how to perform – not just medical professionals. You never know when disaster might strike and how long it may take first responders to arrive and, often, the chances of a successful rescue depend on a knowledgeable bystander knowing when and how to take action.

Some people have a difficult time remembering how to perform CPR and those who do may need help recalling the order in which they should go about doing the procedure. If you are one of those people, don’t worry! There is a useful way to remember what you should do and how you should do it when it comes to CPR.

Let’s get into the ABCs of CPR so you have the tools you need to be a hero in a life or death situation.

What is CPR?

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation or CPR is a technique used to keep blood circulating through the body as the heart isn’t pumping effectively, getting oxygen to the body and brain. Learning CPR is recommended for everyone, not just those with training in the medical field.

How do you prepare to perform CPR?

Before you begin performing CPR, there are some steps you should take to make sure the person really needs it and to make sure they have the best chance of survival. They are:

  • Tapping the person on the shoulder, verbally and physically trying to get their attention. Ask if they are okay. If the person does not respond, prepare to begin CPR.
  • Quickly examining the person for signs of normal breathing and a heartbeat. If the person is responsive, breathing normally, and has a heartbeat, they don’t need CPR. You should still call emergency services in case they have sustained some other type of injury.
  • Calling emergency services. CPR is meant to be a short-term solution to keep a person alive until they can get more extensive medical help. Call 911 before you begin CPR or have someone else do so before you start so emergency responders make it to the scene and take over as quickly as possible.

What are the ABCs of CPR?

After you have determined that you need to perform CPR, it’s time to follow the procedure and follow it as closely as possible. Enter the ABCs of CPR. Okay, it’s actually CAB: Compressions, Airway, Breathing. Let’s look at each one more closely.

Compressions: Restore circulation

Chest compressions allow you to manually pump blood through the heart to the rest of the body. Blood circulation is vital to keep all organs from dying, including the brain. If the brain dies, a person does not recover.

  • Lay the person on their back on a flat, firm surface if possible.
  • Kneel next to them at the level of the shoulders and neck.
  • Put the heel of one hand in the center of the person’s chest at the nipple line. Place your other hand over the first and interlock your fingers.
  • Keep your elbows straight and your shoulders positioned over your hands and press down on the chest using your upper body and arm strength. You should compress the chest 100-120 compressions per minute to a depth of 2-2.4 inches. (If you need help gauging speed, think of the beat of the song “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.)
  • Continue chest compressions until emergency services arrive or the person is resuscitated. Those who have training should combine compressions and rescue breaths at a ratio of 30:2.

Airway: Open the person’s airway

Those who are properly trained in CPR should perform rescue breaths as well as chest compressions. You do this by opening the airway. Here’s how:

  • Place your palm down gently on the forehead, tilting the head back and lifting the chin forward to open the airway
  • Make sure that there are no obstructions. If there is a loose and easily reachable object in the mouth or throat, retrieve it carefully but only if you are certain you can remove it. If you are unsure or it looks too far back to reach, don’t touch it. You could do more harm if the object gets pushed farther into the airway.

Breathing: Perform rescue breaths

Rescue breaths are when you manually breathe for the person you are helping. Here’s how you do it:

  • When the airway is open, pinch the nose shut if performing mouth-to-mouth. Use a CPR barrier mask if you have one, then place your open mouth on theirs and make a seal.
  • Give one rescue breath, lasting for one second. If the person’s chest rises, give another breath. If it does not, reposition the head to open the airway and repeat the process.
  • Give 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths for every cycle. Repeat until the person becomes responsive, an AED becomes available, or first responders arrive.

Do the CPR ABCs work on children and infants?

For children between age one and puberty, follow almost the same protocol when performing CPR as you would for adults. The major difference is hand placement. If the child is very young or on the smaller side, only use the heel of one hand. Be gentle as children are more fragile than the average adult.

For infants, remember the ABCs but make a few changes. Instead of using a whole hand, use two or three fingers to compress the chest. Only compress down to about 1.5 inches instead of two because babies are smaller and more delicate.

Where can you get CPR certified?

Though anyone can attempt CPR, it’s always better to receive the proper training. Even people who have a very tight schedule can get CPR certified in no time! You can take CPR classes from the comfort of your home by enrolling in one of ProCPR’s programs. You don’t even have to pay unless you pass and need your certificate. There’s nothing to lose and, who knows, you might end up saving someone’s life one day.

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