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Health and Safety FAQs

How old do you have to be to babysit?

Can I get Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for my Red Cross courses?

Is it safe to use an AED in the rain, snow or on ice?

Stories about "Cough CPR" or "How to Survive a Heart Attack When Alone" have been circulating on the Internet. What is the American Red Cross' position on this issue?

How can I take an HIV/AIDS education course?

Does your Web site provide information about HIV transmission and prevention?

I'm concerned that I could contract a disease during CPR training. Do you take any special precautions to prevent this?

I lost (washed) my certificate. How do I get another one?

How can a company arrange for first aid training for its employees?

How old do you have to be to take a Red Cross Lifeguarding course?

I've seen the African Proverb Posters that are part of your African American HIV/AIDS Program. How can I obtain a set of these posters?


How old do you have to be to babysit?
Participants must be 11 years of age by the last scheduled course date to receive a certificate for American Red Cross Babysitter's Training. This age was selected as most states require children to be 11 before they can be left alone for short periods without adult supervision. However, local or state regulating agencies may have different age requirements to be able to babysit. Check with your local child welfare, child protective services, health department and/or police. You may receive different answers, so ask for a written copy of the statutes and or regulations that pertain to your location.

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Can I get Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for my Red Cross courses?
The American Red Cross national headquarters does not issue Continuing Education Units. However, some participants have been able to obtain CEUs for completing Health and Safety Services courses by contacting the appropriate state certifying agency for their profession. Your local Red Cross may have more information.
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Is it safe to use an AED in the rain, snow or on ice?
AEDs can be used in a variety of environments including rain, snow and ice. Always use common sense when using an AED and follow the manufacturer's recommendations. Generally, the victim should not be in a puddle of water, nor should the rescuer be kneeling in a puddle of water when operating the AED. If it is raining, steps should be taken to ensure that the victim is as dry as possible and sheltered from the rain. Ensure the victim's chest is wiped dry. Minimize delaying defibrillation though when taking steps to provide for a dry environment. The electrical current of an AED is very directional between the electrode pads. Manufacturers state that AEDs are very safe when all precautions and manufacturer's operating instructions are followed.
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Stories about "Cough CPR" or "How to Survive a Heart Attack When Alone" have been circulating on the Internet. What is the American Red Cross' position on this issue?
The American Red Cross does not endorse the "How to Survive A Heart Attack When Alone" coughing technique that is being publicized on the Internet. The American Red Cross develops materials from the consensus of medical opinion such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Heart Association's Emergency Cardiac Care Committee, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American College of Emergency Physicians.

The 1992 Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiac Care and the Guidelines 2000 for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care - International Consensus on Science briefly discuss the technique called Cough CPR ¹. Cough CPR is a self-administered form of cardiopulmonary resuscitation described by CM Criley in 1976 ². According to Criley, self-initiated CPR is possible; however, its use is limited to clinical situations in which the patient has a cardiac monitor, the arrest is recognized before loss of consciousness, and the patient can cough forcefully. To date, there is insufficient scientific research concerning the efficacy of Cough CPR. Therefore, American Red Cross cannot advocate teaching the technique until it has been thoroughly tested in national studies and found to be effective.

As a training organization, the American Red Cross encourages the public to recognize the signals of a heart attack:

  • Persistent chest pain or discomfort (which can range from discomfort to an unbearable crushing sensation in the chest) that lasts longer than 3 to 5 minutes or is not relieved by resting, changing position, oral medication, or goes away and then comes back.
  • Discomfort, pain or pressure in either arm; discomfort, pain or pressure that spreads to the shoulder, arm, neck or jaw.
  • Breathing difficulty, which may cause dizziness.
  • Nausea.
  • Skin appearance, which may be pale or bluish in color. The face may be moist or may sweat profusely.
  • Unconsciousness.

To care for a heart attack victim:

  • Recognize the signals of a heart attack.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number for help.
  • Convince and help the victim to stop activity and rest comfortably.
  • Try to obtain additional information about the victim's condition.
  • Assist with medication, if prescribed.
  • Monitor the victim's condition.
  • Be prepared to give CPR and use an AED if the victim's heart stops beating.

Often a heart attack victim experiences chest pain that does not go away; the pain may spread to the shoulder, arm, neck, jaw or back. It is usually not relieved by resting, changing position or taking medicine. If the pain is severe or does not go away in 3-5 minutes, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number at once. A heart attack victim may deny that any signal is serious. If it appears as though the victim is having a heart attack, stay calm, reassure the victim, and call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number!

  1. American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiac Care. JAMA. 1992; 268(16): 2135-2302.
  2. Criley JM, Blaufuss AH, Kissel GL. Cough-induced cardiac compression. JAMA, 1976; 236:1246-1250.
  3. Guidelines 2000 for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care - International Consensus on Science.

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How can I take an HIV/AIDS education course?
Contact your local American Red Cross chapter. The Red Cross offers nationally standardized HIV/AIDS education programs for the community and the workplace. In particular, we serve diverse communities with our African American HIV/AIDS Program and Hispanic HIV/AIDS Program. These courses use culturally specific materials and activities to help people adopt prevention behaviors to protect themselves and others from HIV. We also have multimedia materials expressly for youth.
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Does your Web site provide information about HIV transmission and prevention?
Our Web site provides information about American Red Cross HIV/AIDS education programs that are offered on-site through many Red Cross chapters nationwide. Through these programs, we teach people the facts about HIV and AIDS, how to apply the facts to their own behavior, and how to develop real-life skills to prevent the spread of HIV. Red Cross-trained instructors use a variety of interactive learning techniques that are customized to the needs of participants. Visit the HIV/AIDS portion of our Web site or contact your local Red Cross to find out more about the program that's right for you. In addition, check out This Month's HIV/AIDS Facts for some important points about HIV and AIDS, or our HIV/AIDS Facts Book for a comprehensive resource that includes transmission and prevention information. We also link to a variety of other Web sites that provide the latest information about HIV and AIDS. Check the Related Sites section for each of our HIV/AIDS education pages for more information.
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I'm concerned that I could contract a disease during CPR training. Do you take any special precautions to prevent this?
The risk of disease transmission during CPR training is extremely low according to the Guidelines 2000 for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care published in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation on August 22, 2000. In addition, the use of CPR manikins has never been shown to be responsible for an outbreak of infection, and a literature search through March 2000 revealed no reports of infection associated with CPR training.

The American Red Cross minimizes the risk of disease transmission during CPR training through the following process:

  • The American Red Cross develops and delivers courses and trains instructors to provide for the safety of all participants. This includes minimizing the risk of disease transmission. To the best of our knowledge, use of manikins has never been documented as being responsible for transmitting a case of bacterial, fungal or viral disease.
  • The American Red Cross develops standards and guidelines for decontaminating manikins based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These standards and guidelines are consistent with the current American Heart Association Emergency Cardiovascular Care Guidelines. Red Cross instructors are given specific manikin-cleaning procedures to follow before, during and after class.
  • American Red Cross chapters and trained instructors follow rigorous manikin-cleaning procedures.

As the leader in providing lifesaving training to the American public, the American Red Cross is committed to ensuring the health and safety of participants in all Red Cross courses. Preventing transmission of disease during CPR training is an essential element in the development and delivery of American Red Cross courses.
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I lost (washed) my certificate. How do I get another one?
If you took an American Red Cross course and you need a replacement certificate, contact the chapter where the training was conducted. To find the chapter, use the zip code or website locator. You can help the chapter process your request, by providing information about the training (location, date, instructor’s name, and your name).

CPR certificates are valid for one year from the course completion date. First aid and Lifeguard Training certificates are valid for 3 years. If more time has passed than the certificate is valid for or if the chapter cannot locate your record of training, take another class to get recertified. Challenge the course (just skills and written exam) if you remember everything. Take a full course if you need time to relearn or practice the skills before testing.

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How can a company arrange for first aid training for its employees?
Contact your local American Red Cross to arrange first aid training for your employees. The Red Cross offers a variety of training programs for your workplace. Select from our core courses including Workplace Training: Standard First Aid and Adult CPR/AED. Then choose from our supplemental modules: Ergonomics; Slips, Trips, and Falls; Back Injury Prevention; Workplace Violence Awareness; Managing Stress; and Your Heart Matters. We also have a Workplace HIV/AIDS Program that includes Spanish language materials with facts about HIV transmission and prevention that are written specifically for the workplace.
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How old do you have to be to take a Red Cross Lifeguarding course?
You need to be at least 15 years old by the last scheduled class date to take the Red Cross Lifeguarding course. If you're 11- to 14-years old and interested in future work as a lifeguard, you can take GuardStart: Lifeguarding Tomorrow. We also offer other programs of interest to lifeguards, such as Waterfront Lifeguarding, Waterpark Lifeguarding, Automated External Defibrillation, and Oxygen Administration.
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I've seen the African Proverb Posters that are part of your African American HIV/AIDS Program. How can I obtain a set of these posters?
Contact your local Red Cross and ask for Stock No. 329595.
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