No one likes to think that an emergency could take the life of his or her child, and hopefully you’ll never be faced with that kind of frightening situation, but if you were – do you know how to perform CPR on your child?

Nothing takes the place of proper CPR training, and there are many places that offer classes. Signing up for one of these life-saving instruction classes will be time well spent. But, emergencies do happen and you could actually happen onto a situation where your child isn’t hurt- but someone else’s is. Here are some basic CPR rules that everyone should know.

If the child is unconscious – try to wake them up. Rub gently on the child’s shoulder and call out to them in a loud voice. Don’t be too aggressive in the shaking or touching – they could be suffering internal injuries. Be aggressive with your voice and attempt to get a response.

If the child does not wake up, have someone call 911 immediately. If no one is available to call for help, and the child does not appear to be breathing  – begin CPR for at least 2 minutes before calling 911.

CPR:

Begin Chest compressions. If the child is not breathing, put one hand on the breastbone directly between the child’s nipples. Push straight down about 2 inches, or about a third of the thickness of the child’s chest. Then let the chest all the way back up/ Do that 30 times, about twice per second.

Give the child two breaths:

After pushing on the chest 30 times, cover the child’s mouth with your mouth and pinch his or her nose closed with your fingers. Gently blow until you see his chest rise. Let the air escape, the chest will go back down, then give one more breath.

Return to chest compressions. Keep doing 30 compressions- about twice per second.

If rescuing a drowning child:

First, do not place yourself in a dangerous situation. You cannot help the child if you are hurt.

The first thing you want to do, after you pull the child out of the water, is call 911. Then, start the CPR. 30 chest compressions, then 2-breaths.

You'll repeat that until emergency responders arrive, or the child shows clear signs of life.

If you don't detect any breathing through the child's airway, you must attempt rescue breathing.  Pinch the child's nose shut and then seal your lips around his mouth.  (If the child is under 1 year of age there is no need to pinch the child's nose). Next breathe into the child's mouth twice gently and slowly.  If your technique is working, you should be able to see the child's chest rise.  If the chest does not rise, either the child's tongue may be blocking his airway or you may not have created a tight enough seal over the child's mouth.  In this case, tilt the child's head once more and try again.

CPR for Infants:

Shout and gently tap the child on the shoulder. If there is no response and not breathing or not breathing normally, position the infant on his or her back and begin CPR.

Use two or three fingers in the center of the chest just below the nipples. Press down approximately one-third the depth of the chest (about 1 and a half inches). Give 30 gentle chest compressions at the rate of at least 100 per minute. Open the airway using a head tilt lifting of chin. Do not tilt the head too far back

If the baby is not breathing or not breathing normally, cover the baby's mouth and nose with your mouth and give 2 gentle breaths. Each breath should be 1 second long. You should see the baby's chest rise with each breath. Return to compressions. Keep CPR going until help arrives.

Other tips to know:

When checking for breathing, if you're not sure then assume the child isn't breathing. It's much worse to assume a child is breathing and not do anything than to assume he or she isn't and start rescue breaths.

Put a book under the child's shoulders, if you have time, to help keep his or her head tilted back.

When calling 911 or having someone else call, make sure you tell the operator exactly why you are calling. If the dispatcher knows a child isn't breathing or responding, the dispatcher may be able to give you instructions to help. If you call 911 be calm and listen carefully.

The best way to be prepared for an emergency is to learn how to properly apply CPR. The American Red Cross offers classes. The American Heart Association also offers classes.