When administering the important skill of CPR, there’s a chance that the person you are helping may have blood, mucus, vomit, or other fluids exit through the mouth during the process. Additionally, performing CPR exposes both parties involved to an exchange of germs. CPR masks have been created in order to avoid these risks. A pocket CPR mask, which is compact and can be carried in a bag or first-aid kit, is a viable solution for the risk of unwantedly transferring germs or fluids.
Pocket CPR masks allow air to flow into the lungs of the person receiving CPR, while preventing transfer of any liquid or air in the opposite direction by means of a one-way valve. These masks should only be used if you have been properly trained in an approved CPR course that follows the BLS (Basic Life Saving) guidelines sanctioned by the American Heart Association (AHA).
There are a wide variety of CPR pocket masks available for purchase. They range in quality and price, from one-time disposable units to reusable units with replaceable valves and filters. When purchasing one of these masks, there are many important factors to consider. The first step is to decide the purpose of the mask. Will it be something you want to carry with you at all times? Will you be storing it in a first aid kit or in a vehicle? If you will be carrying it on your person, there are masks available that will fit on a keychain and consist of a one-way valve and a thin sheet of plastic to protect the user from contamination. These are not the most effective masks nor are they the easiest to use, but having one in your pocket will still help you possibly save a life while protecting yours.
The more common masks, the ones used by trained First Responders, are made of a molded plastic and are shaped to cover both the mouth and the nose of the victim you are resuscitating. These types of masks come in a variety of models with different options. Some are made of harder plastics and have an “air bladder” to secure the seal with the victim’s face, while others have a solid seal. Some masks come with a head strap to hold it in place. Almost all brands of this type of mask come with replaceable valves that are to be used once and then thrown away. The mask itself can then be disinfected.
Most of the design features of these masks are in place to protect the rescuer, but there are things to consider that help protect the person receiving CPR as well. For instance, some people are allergic to latex, so purchasing a latex-free mask is an important and easy protective measure to take. Many pocket CPR masks are available to purchase in kits that also include gloves and antiseptic wipes. Usually people consider these items as protection for the rescuer only, but you as the rescuer have your own germs, and protecting your already health-compromised victim from being contaminated and potentially infected by germs you transmit should be a priority.
Another accessory that can be purchased for many of these pocket CPR masks are training valves. These are less expensive valves that can be used during training classes with CPR mannequins to ensure that you are using the best breathing techniques and understand how the valve operates.
One of the top brands is Laerdal. Consumer reviews use Laerdal brand pocket masks as the benchmark to measure the quality of other masks. Another high quality brand is Ambu. You can get the most popular mask in a kit from both of these brands for less than $15. A worthwhile investment for any trained first responder. If having a highly compact is your priority, you can also pick up a keychain pocket mask for under $5.
Reviews of these different options (found on sites such as RedCrossStore.org, Amazon.com, and Walgreens.com) can be useful information to help you decide which is the best mask for you. When you’ve decided which mask to purchase for your specific situation, you may be able to find them at your local medical supply store or pharmacy. Another good place to purchase your mask is online. There are a variety of options to choose from; as a consumer it would be wise to shop around and find. They can be found on large sites such as Amazon, Ebay and you will also find them on sites that specialize exclusively in selling medical products. Even the American Red Cross has a site where you can purchase a variety of pocket CPR masks.