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Summer Safety Tips

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Learn the ins and outs of hands-only CPR.

By Rosalyn Mandola of the American Heart Association 

Imagine it’s a hot Saturday afternoon and your crew is at Lake Travis enjoying the water. You came prepared with sunscreen, a hat, a first-aid kit in case of scrapes or stings, snacks and extra water to stay hydrated. You’re leaning back onto your beach towel and adjusting your sunglasses when a scream pierces the sultry calm. Someone has collapsed and isn’t breathing. When there is a cardiac emergency, do you know what to do?

Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 350,000 out-of-hospital incidents occurring annually. Unfortunately, many people don’t know what steps to take in the instance of a cardiac emergency. They report feeling helpless to act because they aren’t trained in CPR, they are afraid they will hurt the victim or they are worried about contracting germs from mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Only one in two people who need CPR receive it, and according to the American Heart Association, recent studies show women are somewhat less likely to receive bystander CPR than men. Researchers are trying to find out why so we can overcome this gap. One theory is that people are hesitant to touch a woman’s chest to perform CPR or use an automatic external defibrillator, but that squeamishness and hesitation could cost a life. So, consider this your call to action. Learning CPR is quick and easy, and if you ever find yourself in an emergency, you’ll be prepared.

Hands-only CPR

The American Heart Association endorses hands-only CPR, a way to save a life in two simple steps. If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, first call 911 and then push hard and fast in the center of the chest. And if you’ve seen or heard the TV and radio PSAs circulating for the last few years, you know the AHA recommends you push to the beat of the Bee Gees’ classic disco song “Stayin’ Alive,” a song that has 100 to 120 beats per minute, the rate you should perform chest compressions during CPR. But if disco isn’t your summer jam, other songs with 100 beats per minute include “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé, “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira and “Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash.

Hands-only CPR has been proven to be as effective as conventional CPR for sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting. If performed immediately, effective bystander CPR can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. You can learn hands-only CPR online for free or learn about a range of other CPR training options at heart.org/cpr.

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