By choosing to learn CPR, you could gain a skill that will allow you to save someone’s life. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a technique that can revive someone who is choking or having a heart attack. You don’t have to have a background in nursing to apply this emergency response: Anyone can learn to do it. The procedure is performed on someone who isn’t breathing or who has no pulse. It combines mouth-to-mouth breathing with chest compressions to help blood circulate until the heart starts pumping again.

When someone collapses due to cardiac arrest, a few things have been proven to save lives: a bystander dialing 911 immediately, use of an automated external defibrillator, and the application of CPR. CPR can not only save lives but decrease the risk of neurological damage, too.

If someone is in need of CPR, it’s better to take action than do nothing. Whether you are untrained or an expert, you should attempt first aid. The American Heart Association recommends that if you are untrained, you should only apply hands-only CPR and give 100 to 120 uninterrupted chest compressions per minute until the paramedics arrive. The same is true if you have been trained but your skills are rusty. If you are trained and confident, give 30 chest compressions and then two rescue breaths. Remember that taking action can literally be a matter of life or death.

CPR is associated with rescuing cardiac arrest victims, but it may also be needed if a person is unconscious due to choking or drowning. If a person has choked and lost consciousness, you’ll have to clear the obstruction, if possible. The Heimlich maneuver can be used to dislodge the blockage while a person is conscious, but if the person becomes unconscious, it’s time to move on to CPR. The chest compressions may free the obstruction that choked them. Keep checking the mouth to see if the blockage has moved to a point where it can be cleared. CPR can also save the life of someone who inhaled too much water and lost consciousness: The chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth breathing can clear the water from their lungs and airways.

If you are performing CPR on an infant or child, the technique will be a little different. You should apply less force to children and avoid their fragile rib area. Do 100 compressions a minute, and wait for the chest to rise completely between each push. You should place one hand on the center of the chest with the other hand on top. If you are performing CPR on an infant, use two fingers at the breastbone.

CPR can be applied to animals, too. The certification for animal CPR is different from human CPR, though the idea and technique is similar. Breaths are administered through the noses of cats and dogs. The person giving CPR should hold the mouth shut while they breath gently for small animals and more strongly for large ones. Chest compressions are administered over the heart while the animal is laid on their side.

There are many benefits to getting a CPR certification. The more you learn about the ways CPR can save lives, the clearer the benefits will become. If you’re ready to take the steps toward certification, the first thing you’ll need to do is find a CPR and first aid course. These courses can be taken online or in person. Your local hospital or community center can probably help you find a CPR class near you. You can also check the websites of organizations like the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, nursing training programs, and the National Safety Council.

CPR Information

First Aid and Choking Information

CPR Demonstrations

CPR Certification

Study Guides and Fun Facts