Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, often shortened to CPR, is a life-saving procedure that doctors, nurses, and care workers everywhere use to help revive people experiencing cardiac or breathing emergencies. You can perform CPR on anyone at any age as a form of emergency resuscitation, as long as you know the steps. When teaching children CPR at a medical training camp, babysitters’ training, or health class,finding fun ways to help the techniques stick is key. Here are a few tips for teaching CPR for kids:
Why Learn CPR?
You may be thinking, “why teach children CPR? Will they ever use it?” And in short, the answer is the same as why we learn multiplication at such a young age: children’s brains are sponges. CPR training is more likely to stick when you teach it to children, and by teaching as many kids as possible via health classes, training camps, or workshops, you’ll increase the number of people who know CPR over time.
Although you must always call 911 (or your emergency services number) when someone enters cardiac arrest or you are involved in an emergency, those few minutes before the ambulance comes are essential. Unfortunately, many people today do not know CPR or are CPR certified, which is why it’s so important to learn this essential skill. Additionally, workplaces may require CPR as a known skill. Having multiple people on-site who know CPR in a public emergency can help keep the process going for longer periods if a practitioner gets tired.
The Basic Steps to CPR
There aren’t too many different ways to perform CPR, and the age of your patient is what differentiates these steps. To prep for CPR,
- Check the area to make sure it is safe, and ask the person if they need help with a tap on the shoulder. If the person doesn’t respond, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
- Have someone look for a defibrillator if you are in a public place. Public access defibrillators are always in glass cases labeled “AED.”
The Red Cross’ basic steps for CPR include:
- Open the airway. You can do so by laying the person on their back and tilting their head slightly to lift the chin.
- Check for breathing. Listen for breathing for no more than ten seconds. If the person is occasionally gasping for breath, they aren’t considered safely breathing. After ten seconds, begin CPR if you have no signs of stable breathing.
- Place your hands on top of each other in the middle of the person’s chest. Pushing hard and fast, press down on the chest in repetitions at 100 compressions per minute. Compressions must be at least two inches deep. To help with compression force, use your body weight while pressing down.
- Deliver rescue breaths with mouth-to-mouth. Tilt the person’s head back, lift their chin to keep the airway open, and pinch their nose shut while breathing to eliminate any potential gaps. Blow into the person’s mouth to make their chest rise. Repeat twice, then continue compressions.
- Continue repeating the compressions and administer rescue breaths every 30 compressions. You can stop once the person begins showing signs of life, returns with an AED, or when emergency medical services arrive.
CPR For Children
The steps for performing CPR with children are about the same, but too much force can damage their smaller bodies. To avoid causing any damage, use one and a half-inch compressions. Depending on the size of the child, you may also only need one hand for compressions. When performing rescue breaths, be sure to tilt the child’s head just a little bit-- tilting too far can block the airway-- and use gentler breaths than you would an adult.
CPR For Infants
For infants, tilt the head back into the “sniffer’s position” (just enough so it looks like the baby is sniffing the air) before performing rescue breaths. Make sure your breaths are very gentle. Using your cheeks instead of the full force of your lungs is best when performing CPR on infants. You can also cover the baby’s entire nose and mouth with your own while performing rescue breaths.
When doing compressions, use only two fingers and press only one or one and a half inches deep.
Interactive Activity Ideas
Teaching CPR to children can certainly be challenging if you don’t have any engaging ways to present your content. Here are some quick, interactive ideas for teaching kids CPR, the anatomy of the human heart, and how to make sure an area is safe for practicing CPR:
To help show children where precisely the heart and lungs are, quizzes using a human body map can help enforce memorization. By showing where each vital organ is located and how they’re connected, you create a visual map that children can use as a reference for learning where to perform chest compressions and rescue breaths.
Using a large sheet of paper, trace the outline of your body (or the kids’) and create a life-size anatomical drawing-- then you can trace handprints to indicate where to press down for chest compressions.
Blood Flow Map
Like the anatomical diagram, mapping out how blood flows through the heart helps further kids’ understanding of how the heart works. Although knowing all the ins and outs of the heart isn’t required for CPR, knowing what exactly makes our most important muscle tick is essential information. Remember, when creating a blood map, be sure to mark the difference between oxygenated blood and non-oxygenated blood!
Alongside a blood flow map, diagrams of the heart’s anatomy may also help show just how this muscle works.
CPR Rhythm Practice
By far, the most popular method for teaching CPR is through rhythm. Since reaching that sweet spot of 100 to 120 compressions per minute is vital, educators use rhythm to show trainees how to match that pace. Popular songs with 100-120 beats per minute (or bpm) are best to work with, but any song with a tempo in that range works well. To help students get the rhythm down, have them practice chest compressions to the beat of a song.
A safe environment is key to performing effective CPR. The Red Cross has a series of interactive games that teach children to watch for potential environmental dangers, prepare for emergencies, and clear an area if someone gets severely injured. You’ll find these games for free on their website, as well as links to any apps or free downloadable content for playing.
To learn more about CPR, resuscitation, and other cardiology-related topics, check out the Medical Supply Depot blog.