Why Hands-Only CPR Isn’t Enough


Don’t get me wrong, knowing CPR is awesome. If hands-only is what you have learned, that is amazing because many do not even know this. Yet, hands-only CPR isn’t enough.

With summer upon us, outdoor picnics, sports, and pool parties all are in your future. This means finger foods, moving kids and water. From a hyper-paranoid standpoint, this also means choking, asthma and drowning.

Hands-Only CPR and Drowning

So assume the worst and a kiddo is pulled out of the water with no heartbeat. Their heart has stopped because their body has run out of air, causing their heart to stop. This is what is referred to as secondary cardiac arrest, meaning their heart has stopped due to something else, which in this case, is drowning.

By doing chest compressions alone, you circulate the blood through the body, but they will continue to drown. Yes, you can drown outside of the water. It is not until air is given that the child will stop drowning. No air to the brain = brain damage if survival happens.

What About Choking?

Let’s assume you have the stuck food (looking at you, uncut grapes and hot dogs) out but the child has already collapsed and lost their heartbeat. Their heart has likely stopped because of lack of oxygen. Now their body has run out of air. 

Hands-only CPR will move the blood throughout his body. We need to get this child air so the compressions in CPR will move oxygenated blood around. If they have no oxygen in their blood, their brain could suffer some damage if they survive. 

Is Hands-Only CPR Okay with Adults?

Most adults know their limits in the water and stay away from the deep end if they cannot swim. They are the ones saying “chew your food” and “don’t run with a jolly rancher,” but of course, that does not mean they are immune to choking, drowning or other breathing emergencies. When looking at breathing versus heart issues, most adults will usually collapse due to a heart issue. 

Hands-only CPR is a great thing for an adult. If the adult’s heart fails them due to a reason other than a breathing emergency, they are likely to still have oxygen in their bodies. This being the case, you have time to start compressions with no breath because you are moving oxygenated blood through their body. This is where hands-only CPR is great because the majority of the people walking around are adults. Make sure you call 9-1-1 or have another person call so EMS can get there asap.

How do I do CPR with Breaths?

This is a great question and one I will not answer on Cincinnati Moms Blog because you need proper training and that’s not from a web page. What I will tell you is where to go to find classes. Search the Red Cross, YMCA or call your local lifeguarded pool to find out where their guards are trained. Ask them, “Do you know where a person can get their Professional Rescuer CPR card?” And if they push for layman’s CPR, tell them, “I am looking for the class where you learn CPR with rescue breathing.” 

Do not attempt any compressions or breathing techniques if you have not been properly trained. It is easy to get trained and only takes a few hours. Assuming you have kids or grandkids, a few hours of your time is a good investment to rest assured you know what to do if this situation should arise.


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