What if you could master a simple skill that would make your whole family safer? In fact, what if as little as 20 minutes of your time could equip you to save the lives of the people you love most?
If you think that sounds too good to be true, think again; CPR or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation is a skill that anyone can learn, and your ability to do it could mean the difference between life and death for your spouse, your parent, or your child. A full course takes only a few hours, and core skills can be mastered in as little as 20 minutes through the American Heart Association’s CPR Anytime Program. And there’s even a simplified version that you can learn entirely on your own.
CPR is far more than a skill it would be nice to have – it’s an ability that no woman can afford to be without. Here are five reasons why.
- The most important reason of all: you could save a life.
CPR is designed to provide immediate assistance to someone who is in a state of cardiac arrest, which means the electrical signals in the heart become chaotic or disrupted, the heart stops beating, blood stops pumping throughout the body, and breathing stops. CPR keeps the blood circulating until help arrives, and statistics show that effective CPR provided immediately after cardiac arrest can double or even triple a victim’s chance of survival.
Every year more than 300,000 people in the US experience sudden cardiac arrest, which can be triggered by a wide variety of causes ranging from heart attack and stroke to injuries, head trauma, poisoning, drug overdose, near drowning, electric shock, and many other conditions. It’s one of the nation’s leading causes of death, taking the lives of more than 200,000 people each year. It’s estimated that as many as 50,000 of those deaths could be prevented if the victim received CPR immediately, but unfortunately as few as 15% to 30% of people who have cardiac arrest outside of a hospital actually get CPR from a bystander.
Most bystanders say they’re reluctant to even attempt CPR because they aren’t sure what to do or because they fear they’ll inadvertently harm the victim. Every woman needs up-to-date CPR training to eliminate those fears and acquire the skills and confidence they need to offer potentially lifesaving assistance.
- Odds are, the life you save will be that of someone you love.
88% of all cardiac arrests happen in the home, so statistically speaking, it’s much more probable that you will need to perform CPR on a family member than on a stranger. The victim you save could be your spouse, your parent, or even your child; CPR is effective on people of all ages.
Though cardiac arrest is seldom associated with infants or small children, it’s crucial for parents and caregivers to learn CPR because there are many situations and emergencies that can cause a baby’s heartbeat or breathing to stop. Suffocation, choking, poisoning, severe asthma, head trauma, and SIDS are just a few of the conditions that can cause an infant to stop breathing or experience cardiac arrest. As a mother, grandmother, aunt, or babysitter, your ability to administer CPR before the ambulance arrives can be the deciding factor in whether the baby lives or dies.
The most common cause of cardiac arrest in adults over 35 is ventricular fibrillation, a condition in which rapid, erratic electrical impulses in the heart cause the ventricles to stop pumping blood. The older we get, the greater the risk of cardiac arrest, so anyone who is caring for aging parents has an immediate need for CPR training.
- Rapid Response is crucial.
The ability to perform CPR during the interval between the time when the victim is discovered, and the arrival of the ambulance or other emergency assistance is absolutely critical. This is a case where the speed of action really is important. Even a few minutes without oxygen can result in permanent brain damage, and it’s estimated that every minute that passes in a state of cardiac arrest reduces the chance of survival by 20 percent. The victim may die as soon as 4 to 6 minutes after the cardiac arrest occurs, and even if the victim does survive, they may suffer permanent neurological impairment.
Being able and willing to perform CPR on someone before emergency help arrives can literally be the difference between life and death.
- It’s easier than you think.
If CPR seems like it would be hard to learn or you’re uncomfortable with the idea of doing rescue breathing, there’s a simple, easy-to-learn CPR alternative that completely dispenses with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and relies on chest compression only. The new Hands-Only CPR Technique introduced by the American Heart Association in 2008 requires no special training, is simple enough for any bystander to do, and is just as effective as conventional CPR for cardiac arrests that occur at home, at work, or in any non-hospital setting.
AHA describes The Hands-Only method as a two-step procedure that starts with calling 911 to report the emergency. The second step is to kneel beside the victim and push hard and fast in the center of the victim’s chest at a rate of 100 compressions per minute, which happens to coincide perfectly with the beat of the Bee Gee’s disco hit “Stayin’ Alive.” Matching the beat of the song will ensure that you do the recommended 100 compressions per minute, and you need to continue with this step until help arrives. Click here for a brief video illustrating the Hands-Only method.
- It’s good for your family, your community, and your own peace of mind.
Women who know how to perform CPR are invaluable no matter where they are. Someone in the US suffers cardiac arrest every 38 minutes, and it can happen anywhere. You could save someone’s life at your workplace, on an outing with your kids, at the mall, or even in your own backyard. Being able to handle an emergency makes you an asset to everyone around you, and knowing you have the tools to literally keep someone alive until help arrives is the best possible source of confidence and peace of mind.
If you would like to become truly proficient in CPR, you should consider getting your American Heart Association CPR certification to learn the skills you need to save a life.