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Can Kids Do CPR?

Some common questions that I frequently receive from clients inquiring about CPR classes are "how old does a person need to be to take a CPR class?" Or "can my child take a CPR class?"

The answer is: it depends. Most CPR certification entities do not have a minimum age requirement for students. However, that doesn't mean that every child is ready to take a CPR class. In my opinion, there are 3 main factors in determining whether or not your child is ready:

  1. Are they mature enough to focus for 3-4 hours? This is going to vary from child to child and in my experience, isn't always going to correlate with age. Some 10 year olds have a longer attention span than some 16 year olds.

  2. How well can they retain the information? This factor holds less weight with me because even adult students struggle with knowledge retention during and after a CPR class. The child does, however, need to retain the knowledge long enough to pass the class performance assessment.

  3. Can they compress deeply enough? This factor, much like maturity, is also going to vary from child to child but is likely the most important factor to take into consideration when determining whether or not a child is ready to take a CPR class. They may have the maturity and focus, but if they aren't strong enough to compress at least 2 inches on the chest of an adult, they aren't going to be able to effectively perform CPR.

That being said, a good CPR instructor can go a long way with helping address any inadequacies mentioned above by:

  1. Simplifying class material so it is easier to understand.

  2. Helping the child adjust their form to make up for any strength deficiencies. For example, the instructor may emphasize that the student use the weight of their torso to assist in chest compressions instead of relying on their arms to do the work. There is a lot of energy leakage when CPR is performed incorrectly and a few minor adjustments can make a significant difference in efficiency.

Alternatively, if you determine that your child isn't quite ready for a CPR class, a basic first aid class may be a good option for them if you have a local training center that offers a class. Basic bleeding control, choking, and first aid techniques are great skills for a child to learn that may be baby-sitting, doing volunteer work, or going on a weekend camping trip.

Regardless of if your child is ready to take a CPR class, it's a good idea to at least have a basic plan in place to address emergencies that may happen at home. Children should know what do in case of a fire or medical emergency, how and where to evacuate, and which number to call for specific emergencies. Spending a few minutes to discuss these things with the members of your family and periodically rehearsing your plan are big steps to ensuring that your family is prepared when an emergency happens at home.

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