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Learning About Rescue Breathing and CPR for Children

Your Care Instructions

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is pushing down on a person's chest and breathing into his or her mouth. It's used in emergencies when someone's heart stops beating, or when he or she is not breathing normally (may be gasping for breath) or is not breathing at all.

Most children never need rescue breathing or CPR. But if they do, the best thing you can do is be prepared. Talk to your doctor or take a class to learn how to do rescue breathing and CPR, and then use these instructions as a reference.

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) are in many public places. Before you use an AED, follow all the steps for CPR.

To use an AED, place it next to the child and turn it on. The AED will tell you what to do next.

How to do rescue breathing and CPR

Step 1: Check to see if the child is conscious.

Tap or gently shake the child and shout, "Are you okay?" to see if the child responds. But do not shake a child who might have a neck or back injury. That could make it worse.

If the child does not respond, send someone to call 911 (if you are not alone). Then start CPR. But if you are alone, start CPR. Do CPR for 2 minutes. Then call 911.

Step 2: Start chest compressions.

  1. Kneel next to the child. Use your fingers to locate the end of the breastbone, where the ribs come together. Place two fingers at the tip of the breastbone.
  2. Put the heel of one hand just above your fingers on the centre of the child's chest between the nipples.
  3. Use the heel of one hand to give compressions. If you need more force for a larger child, use both hands as you would for an adult.
  4. Position your arms and body for doing chest compressions: Straighten your arm, lock your elbow, and centre your shoulders directly over your hand.
  5. Press down in a steady rhythm, using your body weight. The force from each thrust should go straight down onto the breastbone. Press the chest down at least one-third of its depth (about 5 centimetres).
  6. If you are not trained in rescue breathing, give at least 100 chest compressions a minute (between 1 and 2 times a second). If you are trained in rescue breathing, give 30 compressions, then 2 rescue breaths. Rescue breathing may be more important to do for children than adults.
  7. If you are not giving rescue breaths, keep giving at least 100 chest compressions a minute until help arrives or the child is breathing normally. If you are giving rescue breaths, keep repeating the cycle of 30 compressions and 2 rescue breaths until help arrives or the child is breathing normally.

Step 3: Rescue breaths.

  1. To do rescue breaths, put one hand on the child's forehead, push with your palm to tilt the child's head back, and then pinch the child's nostrils shut with your thumb and finger. Put the fingers of your other hand under the bony part of the child's lower jaw near the chin. Tilt the chin upward to keep the airway open.
  2. Take a normal breath (not a deep one), and place your mouth over the child's mouth, making a tight seal. Blow into the child's mouth for 1 second, and watch to see if the child's chest rises.
  3. If the chest does not rise, tilt the child's head again, and give another breath.
  4. Between rescue breaths, remove your mouth from the child's mouth and take a normal breath. Let the child's chest fall, and feel the air escape.

If the child is breathing, watch for any changes until emergency services arrive.

Talk with your doctor or nurse if you have questions about how to do rescue breathing and CPR.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.