Knowing the right actions to take in case of a family health emergency is critical. During this winter season, the importance of home safety and being prepared is further underscored with so many of us are spending more time at home with our families due to the ongoing pandemic.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure that can help save a person’s life if their breathing or heart stops. About 350,000 cardiac arrests, when a person’s heart stops beating, happen outside of hospitals each year. Unfortunately, about half of the people who experience cardiac arrests at home do not get CPR before an ambulance arrives. If CPR is performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, it can double or triple a person’s chance of survival. CPR also keeps blood flowing and provides oxygen to the brain and other vital organs, giving the victim a better chance of a full recovery.
You do not need a special certification or formal training to perform CPR, but you do need education. See below to learn how you can be prepared at home to help save a loved one’s life:
- Call 9-1-1 immediately. If another bystander is nearby, save time by asking them to call 9-1-1 and, if available, look for an automated external defibrillator (AED) while you begin CPR. AEDs are portable machines that can electrically shock the heart and cause it to start beating again. If an AED is not readily accessible, continue with CPR.
- Begin CPR. Push down hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 pushes a minute. Let the chest come back up to its normal position after each push. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends timing your pushes to the beat of the song “Stayin’ Alive.” This method of CPR is called “hands-only” and does not involve breathing into the person’s mouth.
- Don’t stop. Continue giving hands-only CPR until medical professionals arrive or until a person with formal CPR training can take over.
To learn more about hands-only CPR and using an AED, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) CPR Blog page. If cardiac arrest happens to someone in your home, don’t be afraid—just be prepared. Together we can create a safer home environment for our loved ones.