There are a lot of reasons why you might need to give CPR. Overdose, drowning, or heart attack – these are just a few of the many reasons why someone’s heart might stop beating. Most of the time, the person who needs help is sick – and some of the time, they have an illness that can spread to others. CPR saves lives, so how do we help others survive while keeping ourselves safe? Below are some tips on how to protect yourself when giving CPR to someone who is ill.
Putting Yourself First
When EMTs and paramedics show up to an emergency, one of the first things they do is put on gloves. That’s because they know that they might need to get their hands dirty – and that they might be exposed to an illness from someone else. They protect themselves so that, instead of getting sick, they can go on saving lives the next day.
Professional health care workers know that if you don’t take care of yourself first, you can’t take care of anyone else. That’s why they use tools like gloves to keep themselves healthy and protected. Whether you’re a professional or a lay person, it’s important to keep yourself safe, too. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to give life-saving CPR while protecting yourself from unwanted germs.
How to Stay Healthy
Cardiac arrest can happen in hospitals, at home, or in public. Whether you’re a health care worker, family member, coworker, or bystander, there are always options to keep yourself healthy.
Tip #1: Hand Hygiene
One of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of illness is simply good hand hygiene. If gloves are available, use them! Make sure to take them off and dispose of them properly, and always wash your hands afterwards. If there are no gloves around, make sure to wash your hands after performing CPR. Use soap and warm water and scrub for at least 20 seconds to ensure that they’re clean.
Tip #2: CPR Masks
Another good way to keep yourself safe is to use a barrier. We’ve all seen the ‘mouth-to-mouth’ method on TV and in movies (Sandlot, anyone?), but unfortunately this approach can leave you open to unwelcome germs. Using a CPR mask puts a physical barrier between you and the person you’re assisting. Emergency personnel carry masks and other tools to help breathe for patients once they arrive on the scene, if you continue to help with CPR. If you don’t work in health care (or if you’re off duty) you can buy your own portable CPR mask! There are lots of types available, like standard masks that fit in a glove compartment – or even folding masks that fit on your keychain!
Tip #3: Hands-Only
If remembering to carry around a mask seems like a daunting task, don’t worry! Another simple way to protect yourself when giving CPR to someone who is ill is to skip the rescue breaths altogether. “Hands-only” CPR, as it’s called, means giving only chest compressions with your hands – no breaths, no mask. Cutting out the breaths means cutting out the face-to-face contact and reduces the chance of spreading an illness from person to person. And the good news is, it’s effective! When all else fails, hands-only CPR can keep the circulation going long enough to keep someone alive until they can get more advanced care.
CPR is one of the most important ways that human beings can help each other – but you can’t help others if you put yourself in harm’s way. It’s important to keep yourself protected whenever you give CPR, no matter what setting you’re in or who you’re helping. Follow these tips to reduce your risk and stay healthy – so you can keep saving lives.
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