Should Parents Learn CPR and First Aid?

by | Jan 8, 2024

Parenthood is a journey marked by joy, love, and the unexpected. Every year, around 7,000 children encounter out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. Surprisingly, only 32% of parents are confident in performing CPR on their child. This underlines the urgent need for widespread CPR education, ensuring parents and caregivers possess the skills crucial for responding to life-threatening situations involving children. While the milestones of your child’s growth are anticipated with excitement, being prepared for unforeseen emergencies is equally crucial. Learning CPR and First Aid might not be a mandatory parenting class, but it’s a substantial investment in your family’s safety and well-being. A quick note that CPR and First Aid is required for foster care parents.

Learn about our CPR and First Aid classes for parents and sign up for an online or in person class across Georgia or South Carolina here.

Emergency Preparedness Beyond Expectation

Parenthood introduces a world of firsts — the first smile, the first step, the first word. But it also brings the unexpected, and being prepared for those moments is the essence of responsible parenting. While the majority of parenting classes focus on diapers and sleep schedules, CPR and First Aid training arms you with the knowledge and skills to handle emergencies confidently. From minor mishaps to critical situations, your ability to respond swiftly and effectively can make a significant difference. For new parents, the learning curve is steep, filled with moments of awe and occasional sleepless nights. Amidst the whirlwind of baby-proofing and nursery decorating, learning CPR and First Aid offers a practical skill set tailored to parenthood’s unique challenges. Knowing how to respond to a choking incident or recognizing the signs of common childhood illnesses becomes part of the parental toolkit, empowering you to provide immediate care when it matters most.

First Aid Essentials: Choking, Every Parents’ Nightmare

To give you an idea of the importance of having first aid knowledge as a parent, we would like to provide you with one of the most essential lessons in our class. Choking is a significant threat to child safety, contributing to approximately 3,000 fatalities annually in the United States according to the National Safety Council. This alarming figure underscores the importance of understanding and implementing preventive measures. Attentiveness in managing small objects, appropriate food sizes, and swift action when a child shows signs of choking is paramount to reducing these statistics and ensuring the well-being of our children.

Choking and drowning are the leading causes of cardiac arrest in children, so knowing how to respond to choking is essential to preventing cardiac arrest in the first place. Learn how to respond to drowning here.

Detecting Choking:

Choking in children is a frightening experience, and quick identification is crucial. Watch for signs like difficulty breathing, inability to speak, or a bluish tint to the lips and face. If a child is clutching their throat or struggling to breathe, they might be choking.

Preventing Choking:

Prevention is key. Keep small objects, toys, and foods that pose a choking hazard out of reach. Encourage kids to sit while eating, cut food into small, manageable pieces, and discourage talking or laughing with a mouthful.

Responding to Choking for Infants, Children, and Adults

Back Maneuver for Infants:

  1. Assess the Situation: Quickly determine if the infant is truly choking. Look for signs of difficulty breathing, inability to cry or cough, and a change in skin color.
  2. Support the Infant: Hold the infant face down on your forearm, ensuring the head is lower than the chest. Use your thigh or lap for support.
  3. Deliver Back Blows: With the heel of your hand, give up to five forceful back blows between the infant’s shoulder blades.
  4. Perform Chest Thrusts: Turn the infant face up on your forearm, supporting the head. Use two or three fingers to deliver up to five quick, downward chest thrusts.
  5. Repeat if Necessary: Continue alternating back blows and chest thrusts until the object is expelled, and the infant can breathe, or emergency help arrives.
  6. Seek Medical Attention: Even if the infant appears fine, seek medical attention to ensure there are no underlying issues or injuries from the choking incident.

Heimlich Maneuver for Children and Adults:

  1. Assess the Situation: If a child is coughing forcefully, it’s a good sign. If not, act quickly.
  2. Position Yourself: Stand or kneel behind the child, wrap your arms around their waist.
  3. Make a Fist: Place the thumb side against the child’s upper abdomen, above the navel.
  4. Perform Abdominal Thrusts: Give quick, upward thrusts until the object is expelled.
  5. If Unsuccessful: If the child becomes unconscious, start CPR immediately.

I you would like a poster for these steps you can order one here, or when you take a class with us you can get one for free.

How to Perform CPR on a Child

If a child does go into cardiac arrest, then it is important to respond quickly with CPR and the use of an AED. In the playlist of videos below, you will learn how to perform CPR for an adult, child, and infant.

  1. Check for responsiveness by taping and shouting
  2. If no response, then tell someone to call 911 and get the AED if it is available.
  3. Check for normal breathing for 5 – 10 seconds.
  4. If no breathing, then start 30 compressions.
  5. Then perform 2 rescue breaths.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the AED or EMTs arrive.

Heart Defects from Birth

Emergencies often strike when least expected, and their outcomes can be influenced by timely intervention. Do you have a child with heart defects from birth? If so, you’re not alone. Congenital heart disease (CHD) affects approximately 1 in 100 newborns in the United States. Conditions like atrial septal defect (ASD), ventricular septal defect (VSD), and tetralogy of Fallot are among the most common forms of CHD that can be daunting for parents navigating the challenges of raising a child. Children with CHD face a significantly increased likelihood of cardiac events, including cardiac arrest. 

The prevalence of such emergencies underscores the importance of CPR training for parents, equipping them with life-saving skills for critical moments until professional help arrives. CPR and First Aid training can transform uncertainty into empowerment for both you and your child’s babysitters. It equips everyone with the ability to assess a situation, initiate lifesaving measures, and buy crucial time until healthcare professional help arrives. The confidence gained from this knowledge not only benefits your child, but instills a sense of security within your entire family.

Community and Parenting Networks

Enrolling in a CPR and First Aid course also connects you with other parents and child care workers sharing a similar journey. These courses often foster a sense of community, providing a platform for parents to exchange experiences, tips, and support. Especially if you host a CPR class for you and your fellow parents. We can even come to your home or secondary location like your Church. 

Being part of a network that values safety reinforces the commitment to creating a secure environment for every child. Parenting is a constant balancing act of joy and responsibility. While you can’t foresee every challenge, being prepared for emergencies is a tangible way to actively protect your family. Learning CPR and First Aid is not just a skill; it’s an investment in peace of mind. It ensures that, as a parent, you are ready for whatever surprises parenthood may bring, embracing the journey with confidence and preparedness.

How to Get CPR and First Aid Certified

The perception that learning CPR and First Aid is time-consuming and expensive is a common misconception. At First Response, we offer affordable and accessible courses designed to fit into your busy schedule of parenting. Our courses start at only $25 a person. If you want to join an in person CPR course you can view our current available classes here, or if you would like an online blended option where you do the instruction online and then do an in person skills check, you can sign up here.

We also teach Fire Safety, which is also valuable for parents to learn about. We have in-person and online fire safety training options. Visit our calendar page to find in-person and online classes to join.

If you have any questions, contact us here.

About First Response

First Response provides CPR, First Aid, and Fire Safety training to clients across Georgia and South Carolina for over 23 years. We believe training should be relevant, informative, and fun! Feedback from our clients consistently shows that they not only enjoy our classes, they learn something new–even for folks that have taken the class many times before.

Contact us to book a class for your facility, or sign up for a class here.

About the Author

<a href="" target="_self">Calvin Go</a>

Calvin Go

CPR, First Aid, and Fire Safety Instructor

Calvin has taught CPR, First Aid, and Fire Safety for First Response since June 2023. He is also medical student working towards his PHD. His experience as a medical student and safety instructor brings a unique perspective into his articles.

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