Performing CPR on Children: Yes, It’s Different

No matter the generation, American kids have always greeted the long summer days with excitement. From the time the final bell rings on the last day of school to the time it rings again signaling back-to-school time, kids from all walks of life will enjoy free time, doing what they want to do when they want to do it.

As a child, I spent many of my summer days swimming. My parents put me in classes when I was just three years old and I grew up exposed to both swimming pools and the ocean since my family had a vacation cottage on the Jersey shore, my grandparents lived in Miami and I spent eight years of my childhood in southern California.

But even knowing how to swim from an early age, there were times when the water overwhelmed both me and my brother. I remember swimming in our grandparents’ backyard pool with my brother and one minute, he was laughing and playing and the next, he was sinking to the bottom.

Fortunately, my father was right there to pull him out. He was breathing again in no time and today he is a grown man and continues to enjoy the water with his own children.

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With a growing awareness of the importance of learning and knowing CPR, many people believe there will be help available for a child in the case of a possible drowning or other summer accident, such as lightning strikes or choking.

But did you know there is a difference in the way adults and children are treated with CPR in an emergency?

Performing CPR on Children

A recent American Heart Association study revealed that children who have cardiac arrests are more likely to survive if emergency dispatchers talk bystanders through the steps of CPR.

The study found that a month after cardiac arrest, survival with good brain function increased 81 percent for children who received dispatcher-guided CPR, and 68 percent for children who received non-dispatcher CPR when compared to those who received no bystander CPR.

Adults, children, and infants have different needs when it comes to CPR. Children’s physiologies, bone structures and makeup, and the types of dangers they face are different than adults; so the techniques you used on adults could cause more harm than good if used on children or infants.

Because children are much more resilient than adults, experts recommend starting CPR immediately BEFORE calling 9-1-1.

Because children are much more resilient than adults, experts recommend starting CPR immediately BEFORE calling 9-1-1. This is because their chances of survival are much higher if they receive CPR immediately. It is also important to remember that children often have blocked airways because of foreign objects they may ingest. After the airways are clear, you may give rescue breaths but should use caution since children are more fragile than adults.

As always, hands only compressions may be used but often on infants and very small children, one hand is enough and often, only two fingers. And the depth of the compression should be only about 1 ½ inches on a small child.

Knowing how to perform CPR on both adults and small children is a skill that will help all family members have a more enjoyable and safer summer!

For more information about CPR for children and infants, log on to www.heart.org/CPR

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