Most of us have heard of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and understand that it can save lives. Yet, as with so many safety tasks, we somehow fail to act on that knowledge and arm ourselves with this simple and effective life-saving skill.
Without oxygen, the brain will begin to die within four to six minutes. Therefore, if a person loses heart function, known as cardiac arrest, it is critical that the brain continue to receive oxygen by some other means. This is where CPR comes in. A cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival are reduced by seven to ten percent with every minute that passes without CPR. After 10 minutes pass, resuscitation is unlikely. A care-giver or bystander’s ability to react immediately is often the victim’s only chance at survival. (American Heart Association)
While most of the hundreds of thousands of cases of cardiac arrest that occur in the US each year are caused by coronary heart disease, other causes exist, many of which can occur at any age.
Causes of heart failure (not an exhaustive list):
Coronary heart disease
By knowing CPR, you may be able to save a person suffering from one of the above injuries or conditions. Even if you have already been through CPR training at some point in your life, if it has been more than five years, you are due for a refresher course. Not only do memories fade, but new research over the years has led to changes in recommended techniques for administering CPR. In an emergency, it will be difficult to remain calm if you doubt your recollection of the steps or worry that there is something more you could be doing.
Furthermore, there are differences in how CPR is administered to children, especially infants, versus adults. If you are expecting a baby or have young children at home, it is crucial that you and your child’s other caregiver(s) are caught up on CPR training.
Hence, this week’s safety To-Do is to identify and sign up for a CPR class. Though you likely won’t have the opportunity to actually complete the course this week, your goal should be to get it on the calendar. If you have children who are old enough to pay attention, be sure to look for a family class. In fact, think about inviting another family or two to join you for the outing. Planning to make a day of it will help fight the temptation to reschedule as the date arrives.
Many fire departments offer free CPR classes, often coupled with first aid training, so you may want to start there. Here is a directory to help you locate contact information for your local fire department:
This link also provides CPR class information by zipcode:
Most of us will never find occasion to use our new life-saving skills, but how much better to know and not need than to need and not know.