Are children too young to learn CPR? - In a Heartbeat

Are children too young to learn CPR?

As adults, we appreciate just how crucial CPR skills are for the safety of our families and others around us. But can, and should, we pass along those skills to our children?

In emergency situations, kids, like adults, will instinctively react with either flight or fight reflexes. And an emergency can be quite frightening, even for little fighters. However, the more familiar and comfortable they are with life-saving skills, the more likely they will be to jump in to help.

A study conducted in Austria on 147 children, found that kids as young as 9 years old are able to comprehend and retain the skills necessary to perform CPR. Depending on the body mass index of the individual child, they may not have the strength to complete adequate chest compressions, but at the very least, the child will learn an important life lesson and create the muscle memory for the life-saving skill.

Experts also report that third graders are able to learn to effectively operate an AED (automated external defibrillator) device, with proper training. So, if our kids are able to handle more complex emergency skills, what other skills should we be teaching them? We’ve listed a few below.

  1. On the most basic level, children should know how to access the emergency call option on a cell phone, as well as, how to use a landline to dial 911.
  2. As you treat their cuts and scrapes, explain how they could replicate the process on themselves or someone else.
  3. Show them how to apply pressure to a wound to help stop bleeding.
  4. Reinforce stop, drop and roll by practicing the process at home.
  5. Teach children as young as eight to perform the Heimlich maneuver with five blows to back, followed by five “abdominal thrusts” (pushing with the fist right above the belly button).
  6. In the event of drowning, children should know to look for a floatation device to throw to the victim, instead of entering the water themselves.

We hope that our children will never find themselves confronted with a victim in mortal peril. But teaching them how to help will empower them and just might save a life.

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