What would you do if the person standing next to you suffered a heart attack? What if a family member suddenly became ill or was injured? Many of us freeze or panic when confronted by the unexpected, but there are times when we may need to be the first responder before the professionals arrive on the scene. Learning First Aid and CPR can be incredibly helpful – it could help you save a life.

First Aid

First aid is exactly what it sounds like: the initial assistance provided to anyone who is sick or has been injured until qualified medical treatment is available. Many of us have some sort of first aid kit in our homes. There are commercial first aid kits available in all shapes and sizes, and some are designed for specific uses or locations (like a kitchen, vehicle or workshop). Or instead of purchasing a first aid kit, you can make your own to suit your specific needs. The American Red Cross provides a list of recommended items for a standard first aid kit. Either way, be sure that your first aid kit has all of the items you need. If you or someone in your family requires medication, make sure to include it. And it’s a good idea to keep a list of emergency numbers inside, too.

First aid itself can be used to describe a wide range knowledge of and skills. From handling bee stings to administering the Heimlich maneuver, being in the right place at the right time and knowing what to do can make the difference between life and death.

CPR

One of the most essential first aid skills is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This lifesaving technique is useful in any situation where someone’s heartbeat or breathing has stopped – a heart attack or drowning, for example. Even if you’re untrained, it’s better to do something than nothing. If you’re administering CPR to an adult, the American Heart Association recommends beginning with uninterrupted chest compressions, doing about 100 a minute until paramedics can get there. The idea is to pump blood manually through the heart and into the body to create artificial circulation, preserving intact brain function. If you have CPR training, you can move on to checking the airway and doing rescue breathing – just remember the acronym C-A-B – circulation, airway, breathing. If you aren’t trained, simply perform chest compressions and wait for the professionals to arrive.

First Aid Training

Where first aid is concerned, a little knowledge goes a long way. There are several places you can look for first aid training. Both the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association offer multiple levels of in-person and online classes. No matter where you take the classes, first aid and CPR training is a great idea for you and your family.

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