Do I Need A Mouth Barrier For CPR?
Do I need a mouth barrier for CPR is another popular question in my CPR classes. The short answer is No. But, are you crazy? I think performing mouth to mouth on an injured, ill and dying victim without a CPR mouth barrier really puts you at risk. The risks being Hepatitis B & C, HIV, Tuberculosis, Herpes Simplex to name the big ones. Some say the risk is low, but I grew up in a world of protective equipment in the fire service. We always used gloves, masks and antimicrobial wipes to clean ourselves afterwards. As a former professional rescuer and current CPR and first aid instructor, I would never encourage someone to be reckless with their health or safety.
Of course when I teach CPR, I still teach breathing skills. Breathing is especially important in drownings, child or infant CPR and the number one cause of accidental deaths in 2015- Drug overdoses. Not breathing is still a big deal, and just pushing on the chest doesn’t fix everything. I know everyone is talking about Hands-Only CPR (really isn’t CPR) or compressions only, which is a great solution for folks with no training. But a 15-30 minute Hands-Only class doesn’t begin to cover all the other aspects of real CPR and emergency care. I don’t want to get into that topic in this post, you can read all about Hands-Only CPR here.
A New England Journal of Medicine showed that only 22 percent of people suffering a cardiac arrest live long enough to be discharged from the hospital, and nearly 30 percent of those survivors have serious neurological disabilities, probably because of a lack of oxygen during the arrest. This fact alone tells me breathing is still important for victims.
The problem is, people know the risk, that’s why most people trained or untrained in CPR are hesitant to do mouth to mouth resuscitation to victims. I want to eliminate the fear and give you the confidence to do CPR without the risk. The 6-10 minutes that you will spend performing CPR while waiting for help to arrive, will probably be the most valuable 10 minutes of your life. To save a life, and you only have to spend 10 minutes or less of your time. What could be more valuable? Only 1 thing I can think of, your safety.
Even though some claim mouth to mouth is low risk, the truth is if you are performing mouth to mouth on a victim, then they are either ill, injured or dying or all three. If a victim is on the ground it is very likely they collapsed and fell. The head is almost always the last body part to hit the ground. They usually hit the ground with such force that there is usually blood involved. If not from the face injury upon impact then usually in the mouth. They may have bit their tongue or cheek as they landed.
You put yourself at risk when you seal their mouth with yours and blow. This pressure causes fluids in the mouth to become airborne, and without a barrier, you get to share in the love. Remember the underside of your tongue is very vascular, which could easily absorb things you don’t want in your body.
If you know how to do real CPR (with breathing), then you should always protect yourself.
- It will protect you from any direct contact with body fluids on their face
- It provides a barrier in the event the victims bites down, they don’t bite you!
- If the Mouth Barrier has a bite piece and the victims bites down, you will still be able to administer breathing
- With a one-way valve any fluids in the mouth stay on the victims side.
However, there’s something you should know about these CPR mouth barriers, are you ready?
Over 90% of these CPR mouth barriers that are sold in the United States are imported from China. These CPR mouth barriers are cheap and only use paper filters as a barrier. We know paper filters are great for dusts masks, but do little to protect you from body fluids carrying viruses.
We did a lot of research before selecting the Rondex Mouth Barrier as our mask to carry and sale. I knew when I began my research that it was going to be more expensive to go with quality, but I wanted to be able to sleep at night. Seriously, the idea of someone actually using the barrier and not being protected was unacceptable to me. The Rondex brand mouth barrier is more expensive than those paper filter CPR mouth barriers, but it has been flow tested, so we know it works. This is the only CPR face shield that I know of that is actually made in America. It is also the only CPR mouth barrier with 2 one-way valves for superior protection.
BUT, if you buy this CPR mouth barrier, I have one important tip for you – you have to take it with you. Do not leave it in the first aid kit in the kitchen, or in your car, or in your desk. You need to have it with you for this to work. I suggest you bring it along with your keys or purse, we have a CPR Keychain Kit which includes the mask, gloves and an antimicrobial wipe for your protection that you can also use for other first aid emergencies. I carry one on my keychain and my wife carries one in her purse.
Captain Wayne Bennett (Ret.) is the founder of Disaster Survival Skills, LLC. and is also a retired professional firefighter and disaster preparedness coordinator who recognized a need for a one-day training on how everyone should respond to a disaster. From that moment forward the commitment has been to develop, refine and perfect techniques and strategies that everyone can use. In addition to training, Disaster Survival Skills, LLC. provides practical and realistic supplies that support their training. There is no fluff or waste in their kits, but rather items that can and will be used by your employees in an emergency.