Health Precautions & Guidelines During First Aid Training

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The American Red Cross has trained millions of people in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) using manikins as training aids.
The Red Cross follows widely accepted guidelines for cleaning and decontaminating training manikins.
If these guidelines are adhered to, the risk of any kind of disease transmission during training is extremely low.

To help minimize the risk of disease transmission, you should follow some basic health precautions and guidelines while participating in training. You should take precautions if you have a condition that would increase your risk or other participants’ risk of exposure to infections. Request a separate training manikin if you—

  • Have an acute condition, such as a cold, a sore throat, or cuts or sores on the hands or around your mouth.
  • Know you are seropositive (have had a positive blood test) for hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), indicating that you are currently infected with the hepatitis B virus.*
  • Know you have a chronic infection indicated by long-term seropositivity (long-term positive blood tests) for the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)* or a positive blood test for anti-HIV (that is, a positive test for antibodies to HIV, the virus that causes many severe infections including AIDS).
  • Have had a positive blood test for hepatitis C (HCV).
  • Have a type of condition that makes you unusually likely to get an infection

To obtain information about testing for individual health status, visit the CDC Web site at:

After a person has had an acute hepatitis B infection, he or she will no longer test positive for the surface antigen but will test positive for the hepatitis B antibody (anti-HBs). Persons who have been vaccinated for hepatitis B will also test positive for the hepatitis antibody. A positive test for the hepatitis B antibody (antiHBs) should not be confused with a positive test for the hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg).

If you decide you should have your own manikin, ask your instructor if he or she can provide one for you to use. You will not be asked to explain why in your request. The manikin will not be used by anyone else until it has been cleaned according to the recommended end-of class decontamination procedures. Because the number of manikins available for class use is limited, the more advance notice you give, the more likely it is that you can be provided a separate manikin.

Some people are sensitive to certain allergens and may have an allergic reaction. If you start experiencing skin redness, rash, hives, itching, runny nose, sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throat or signs of asthma, wash your hands immediately. If conditions persist or you experience a severe reaction, stop training and seek medical attention right away.


In addition to taking the precautions regarding manikins, you can further protect yourself and other participants from infection by following these guidelines:

Wash your hands thoroughly before participating in class activities.
Do not eat, drink, use tobacco products or chew gum during class when manikins are used.
Clean the manikin properly before use.
For some manikins, this means vigorously wiping the manikin’s face and the inside of its mouth with a clean gauze pad soaked with either a fresh solution of liquid chlorine bleach and water (1 ⁄ 4 cup sodium hypochlorite per gallon of tap water) or rubbing alcohol. The surfaces should remain wet for at least 1 minute before they are wiped dry with a second piece of clean, absorbent material.
For other manikins, it means changing the manikin’s face. Your instructor will provide you with instructions for cleaning the type of manikin used in your class.
Follow the guidelines provided by your instructor when practicing skills such as clearing a blocked airway with your finger.


Successful course completion requires full participation in classroom and skill sessions, as well as successful performance in skill and knowledge evaluations. Due to the nature of the skills in this course, you will be participating in strenuous activities, such as performing CPR on the floor. If you have a medical condition or disability that will prevent you from taking part in the skills practice sessions, please let your instructor know so that accommodations can be made. If you are unable to participate fully in the course, participate as much as you can or desire. Be aware that you will not be eligible to receive a course completion certificate unless you participate fully and meet all course objectives and prerequisites.

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