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How to do CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)

written by: Diana Cooper • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 6/6/2010

In this article you will learn how to do CPR on adults, infants and children. Learn when to call for help, how many breaths/compressions to give when doing one or two person CPR, what to do if the person vomits, and more.

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    CPR

    The following are basic instructions for adult, infant, and child CPR (according to the American Heart Association). This information can be beneficial but I highly recommend you learn how to do CPR from a certified instructor in a class near you. You will get hands-on experience, feel better prepared for a stressful situation, increase the person's chances of surviving, and help prevent complications. Click on images to enlarge.

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    How to Do Adult CPR (9 years old and up)

    Check for responsiveness

    Gently tap the person's shoulder and shout "Are you okay?". Repeat several times. Normally, people who fainted or are simply asleep or intoxicated will respond in some manner.

    If unresponsive, call 911

    CPR - tilt the head back Have someone call 911. Shout for help if you have to. If you have no help, then you need to call 911 (even if it means you have to leave the person alone).

    Position the person

    Place the person flat on his or her back and, if not too time consuming, slightly elevate their legs (with a coat, pillow, etc.) to improve blood flow to vital organs. The person needs to be on a firm surface to receive good chest compressions.

    If you suspect a spinal injury, try not to move the person unless someone can help you (to stabilize their head and neck while turning them - one person should be at their head and the other person should be along their side).

    CPR - look, listen, and feel Open the airway

    Tilt their head back slightly. Lift up the person's chin using your index and middle fingers while you push down on their forehead with your other hand.

    If you suspect a spinal injury, do not tilt their head back. Instead, use your fingers to gently lift the jaw forward. This will help keep their tongue from blocking their airway.

    Check for breathing

    Place your ear near the person's nose and mouth. Look, listen, and feel. Look for chest movement and listen and feel for the passage of air.

    CPR - breaths If no breathing, give mouth-to-mouth

    Take a deep breath and pinch the person's nostrils. Place your mouth outside of the person's mouth (making a tight seal) and slowly exhale (about 1 second) into the person's mouth. Make sure the chest rises. If it does not rise, try repositioning the person's head.

    Give a total of 2 breaths (allowing air to escape from their mouth after giving a breath).

    Start chest compressions

    CPR - chest compressions If the person is moving, breathing normally, or coughing, do not begin chest compressions.

    Place the heel of one hand on the person's breastbone (between their nipples). Place your other hand on top of that hand and interlace your fingers. Move your torso directly over the person so your arms point straight down towards his or her chest. Lock your elbows and press down on the breastbone about 2 inches.

    Give 30 compressions. Count quickly (1,2,3,4...30) but make sure the chest rises after each compression.

    Repeat

    Continue adult CPR (2 breaths, 30 compressions) until help arrives or the person recovers.

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    Continued...

    Now that you know how to do adult CPR, continue on to the next page to learn how to do CPR on infants and children.

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    Learn how to do infant CPR. Know how to properly position them, what to do if you suspect a spinal injury, when to not give compressions, and so much more.
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    How to do Infant CPR (less than 12 months old)

    Check for responsiveness

    Tap gently and shout "Are you okay?".

    If unresponsive, call for help

    Have someone call 911. If no one is around, do not leave the infant to call. First, perform CPR for about 2 minutes then find a phone to call 911 (you may carry the infant with you if you don't suspect a spinal injury).

    Position the infant

    Place the infant on their back on a firm surface. If you think the infant suffered a spinal injury (such as evidence of a head injury), you should have someone help you move him or her to prevent the head and neck from twisting. If moved incorrectly, a person with spinal injury can suffer from serious complications like permanent paralysis.

    CPR - look, listen, and feel Open the airway

    Carefully tilt the infant's head by lifting up their chin with one hand and pushing down on his or her forehead with your other hand. If there is a possibility of a spinal injury, pull the infant's jaw forward without moving the neck or head.

    Check for breathing

    Place your ear near the infant's nose and mouth. Look, listen, and feel for chest movement and passage of air.

    CPR - breaths If no breathing, give mouth-to-mouth

    Place your mouth tightly over the infant's mouth and nose (or hold the mouth shut and cover just the nose).

    Give 2 breaths and make sure the chest rises with each breath. If it does not rise, reposition the infant's head.

    Start chest compressions

    If the infant is moving, breathing normally, or coughing, do not begin chest compressions.

    CPR - chest compressions Place two fingers on the infant's breastbone (just below the nipples) and press down (about 1/3 to 1/2 the depth of the chest). With small babies, you can use your hand as a back support.

    Give 30 fast compressions (1,2,3,4...30), making sure the chest rises after each compression.

    Repeat

    Continue infant CPR (2 breaths, 30 compressions) until help arrives or the infant recovers. Don't forget to call 911 after 2 minutes if needed.

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    Continued...

    Now that you know how to do infant CPR, continue on to the next page to learn how to do CPR on a child.

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    Learn how to do CPR on a child. Know what you have to do to open their airway, how to position your hands, when to do chest compressions, and so much more.
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    How to do CPR on a Child (1 - 8 years old)

    Check for responsiveness

    Gently tap the child and ask "Are you okay?". Speak loudly and say their name if you know it.

    If unresponsive, call for help

    Just as with the infant, you do not want to leave a child alone until you attempt CPR. If no one else is around to call 911, you need to perform about 2 minutes of CPR before seeking a phone to call 911. If you are able, you can carry the child with you unless you suspect a spinal injury.

    CPR - look, listen, and feel Position the child

    Position the child on their back. If a spinal injury is suspected, move them only if you have to (and with the help of a second person if possible). The child should be lying on a firm surface.

    Open the airway

    Tilt the child's head back by carefully lifting up their chin with one hand and pushing down on their forehead with your other hand. If a spinal injury is possible, pull the child's jaw forward without moving the neck or head.

    Check for breathing

    CPR - breaths Look, listen, and feel. With your ear over their face, look for chest movement, listen for breathing sounds, and feel for air against your cheek.

    If no breathing, give mouth-to-mouth

    Place your mouth tightly over the child's mouth and pinch their nostrils.

    Give 2 breaths. If you do not see their chest rise while giving a breath, try repositioning their head.

    Start chest compressions

    Do not give chest compressions if the child is moving, breathing normally, or coughing.

    CPR - chest compressions Place the heel of one hand on the child's breastbone (just below the nipples). Place your other hand on their forehead. Press down about 1/3 to 1/2 inch.

    Give 30 fast compressions (1,2,3,4...30), making sure the chest rises after each compression.

    Repeat

    Continue doing CPR on a child (2 breaths, 30 compressions) until help arrives or the child recovers. Don't forget to call 911 after 2 minutes if needed.

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    Conclusion

    2 person CPR is the same as 1 person CPR. One person gives the two breaths then the other person gives the 30 chest compressions.

    If the person wears dentures, try to leave them in place. This will make it easier for you to get a good seal around their mouth.

    If the person vomits while giving CPR, turn their head to the side and wipe the vomit out of their mouth with your finger.

    Share this information with friends and family so they will know how to do CPR.

    Visit the American Heart Association to find a CPR class near you.

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    References

    • CPR - adult: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000013.htm
    • CPR - infant: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000011.htm
    • CPR - child: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000012.htm
    • Learn CPR: http://depts.washington.edu/learncpr/askdoctor.html
    • Spinal injury: First aid: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/first-aid-spinal-injury/FA00010
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    Photo Credit

    All images courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (NLM).

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