11) Learn CPR

According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), heart attacks are the leading cause of death for adults in the United States. There are nearly 300,000 cardiac arrests a year in the United States that take place outside of a hospital, with about 80 percent occurring in the victim’s home. The AHA reports that only about 27 percent of people that have cardiac arrests outside of a hospital receive cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and nearly 94 percent of heart attack victims die before reaching the hospital.

While the majority of people who suffer sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital do not survive, even if CPR is administered, providing CPR immediately following cardiac arrest can double or triple the chances that the person will survive, according to the AHA. CPR and defibrillation are vital immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, as the chance of survival drops seven to 10 percent for each minute after cardiac arrest that CPR is not given.

CPR can add precious minutes of life to a heart attack victim while help is on the way, and it’s surprisingly not difficult to perform. What is primarily shown in the movies, however, is not correct, and would not do much to save anyone.

While it is usually best to take proper lessons or receive instruction in person, the following guidelines may just help in an emergency:

CPR for adults:

  1. Check to see if the person is breathing and has a pulse. If not, promptly call 911.
  2. Lay the victim down, place one palm in the middle of the chest on the nipple line (with the other resting atop), and press down about two inches into the chest, 30 times. It should be at a rate of 100 presses per minute, which can easily be remembered by singing the Bee Gee’s song Stayin’ Alive. Count out loud in case someone needs to take over.
  3. Gently tilt the victim’s head back and lift the chin, hold the victim’s nose closed, place your mouth over the victim’s, and exhale two breaths into the victim’s mouth.
  4. Repeat until help arrives, or until the victim starts breathing and maintaining a steady pulse.

CPR for infants (<1 year):

  1. Check to see if the infant is breathing and has a pulse.
  2. Lay the victim down, place two fingers in the middle of the chest on the nipple line, and press down gently, about an inch and a half, 30 times. It should be at a rate of 100 presses per minute, and the Bee Gee’s song Stayin’ Alive can be used as a guide. Count out loud in case someone needs to take over.
  3. Cover the victim’s nose and mouth with your mouth and gently exhale two breaths into the victim’s mouth. Be mindful to not exert your breath too forcefully, as you risk damaging the victim’s lungs and internal organs.
  4. Repeat until help arrives, or until the victim starts breathing and maintaining a steady pulse.