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CPR Masks: Types & How to Use Them [First Aid]

CPR masks and face shields help protect first responders and rescuers...but how? We talk about how these devices keep you safe and the different types!

What’s one skill that every person on the planet should know how to do efficiently?

CPR, of course!

CPR Mask
Can you guess what we’re talking about today???

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, CPR for short, is performed when the heart stops beating. It’s a lifesaving procedure that can double or even triple the chances that a person survives after cardiac arrest.

According to the American Heart Association, 475,000 people die per year from cardiac arrest in the U.S. So it’s totally possible you might encounter someone experiencing a cardiac episode in your life.

So easy a baby can do it!

Knowing what to do ensures you can deliver quick, lifesaving help to someone in need.

That said, one of the most common questions people have centers on germ swapping.

In short, if you give someone emergency breaths (a.k.a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation) is there a risk that you could get sick if they are?

CPR Mask Breathing
Delivering rescue breaths to this guy.

The answer is possibly, depending on what the person carries BUT that’s where some nifty little devices come in.

CPR face masks and shields work to keep you protected from germs while rendering aid.

And today, we’re going to talk about those CPR tools. We’ll go over why they’re used, what types exist in the market, and how to use one.

CPR Masks and Face Shields
CPR Masks and Face Shields

Before we get too far, though, let’s take a beat to offer a disclaimer.

While I, your humble writer, am a certified American Heart Association Basic Life Support Instructor, I am not a doctor. This article should not take the place of actual medical advice or medical training.

Do yourself a favor and when in doubt, consult a physician.

Hello Doctor

Also, sign up for an approved CPR and first aid course.

We have several stellar courses listed in our Best First Aid Classes for every skill level.

Table of Contents


What Are CPR Masks?

Before we dive much further, it’s probably good to cover what a CPR mask is?

Much different than the COVID masks some of us sported in 2020 and 2021, a CPR mask protects the wearer while giving CPR.

Gun COVID Masks
If I wear a mask, let it be one with AR butterflies and Glocks!

Communicable diseases like HIV and Hepatitis can be transmitted via body fluids. With an unresponsive person at your feet, it’s kinda hard to find out what illnesses they may have.

Not to mention, CPR isn’t always pretty. Sometimes, it causes the recipient to regurgitate their lunch. Yuck!

So, to keep things clean and yourself protected, use a CPR mask – officially known as a barrier device.

CPR Mask
Barrier devices protect you!

Types of CPR Masks

Now that I’ve convinced you to have a CPR mask on hand…which one should you buy?

If you’ve taken a look at Amazon, you probably notice a couple of styles. So, let’s talk about them.

Plastic Face Shield

The most common and probably most convenient is the plastic face shield. These often fold up very small (keychain size).

CPR Face Shield in Keyring
CPR face shield in the pouch.

When removed from their pouch, they unfold and can be laid across the face of the victim.

A good face shield will have a one-way valve which you place across the victim’s mouth. This allows air to travel into the mouth of the victim but does not allow transmission the other way keeping you safe.

CPR Face Shield
It lays across the face and if my guy had ears, it’s even got ear loops to help keep it in place.

As I mentioned, I carry one of these on my keyring with my car and house keys.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Face Mask

Another style you’ll commonly see is the face mask. If you’ve watched ER or Grey’s Anatomy and heard, “Bag ‘em,” you’ve seen this style.

CPR Mask
CPR Mask

Instead of a plastic film, this uses a full on mask that encompasses the nose and mouth.

A small nozzle allows you to blow into the mask and deliver air to the victim.

CPR Mask
A CPR mask on the manikin.

Like the face shield, it features a one-way valve to keep things flowing one direction.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Are Barriers Really Necessary?

Do you always have to have a barrier device? No, not always.

In reality, most CPR based training has moved away from rescue breaths and instead favors chest compressions.

Studies show that hands-only CPR is as effective as CPR with breaths in the first few minutes after a cardiac arrest.

Adult CPR Inforgraphic

On the other hand, if you happen to be further away from help, or must perform CPR on an infant/child, victims of drowning or drug overdose, or people who collapse due to breathing issues then rescue breaths come into play.

And that’s where barrier devices excel.

If a family member or close relative suffers cardiac arrest and you know they do not have an infectious disease, you’re probably okay to perform rescue breaths without the mask.

CPR Mask and Shield Air Vent
These valves keep you safe!

But where these come in handy is when you’re out and about. If someone you do not know undergoes cardiac arrest and you are trained to deliver rescue breaths, a mask is an essential component!

Again, we want everyone to stay safe and a barrier device is the best way to do so.

CPR Face Shield
CPR Face Shield

Not to mention, these things are super affordable! Like, under $10 for a pack of two, in most cases. So, there’s no excuse not to carry at least one on you or in your first aid bag.

Where Can I Keep a CPR Mask?

Of course, when someone suffers a cardiac incident, time is of the essence. The key is getting compressions going ASAP. If you know how to properly offer mouth-to-mouth, even better.

In order to speed things up, stow a CPR mask or two in your home and car first aid bags, bug-out bags, and even on your keyring or purse/briefcase/backpack.

CPR Masks First Aid Kit
I have one attached to the outside of my car first aid kit.

This way, it’s always at the ready.

Personally, I carry one on my keys at all times because I’m never without my house/car keyring. So, if someone has an incident, I am ready to respond and don’t have to dig in my purse.

CPR Masks Keyring Face Shield
I also keep one on my keys.

How to Use a CPR Face Shield

Remember before getting started, have someone call 911. If you’re alone, dial 911 and put your phone on speaker phone. Get help on the way!

To use a CPR face shield, first remove it from its pouch and unfold.

CPR Masks Keyring Face Shield
Pop the top or remove it from its pouch.

There should be some kind of instruction or indication on the shield as to the proper direction for the one-way valve. Follow these instructions, and lay the shield across the victim’s face so the valve is at the mouth.

From here, standard CPR kicks in – use two fingers under the chin to tilt the head, pinch the nose with your opposite hand, and give two rescue breaths.

CPR Face Shield Breathing
Deliver those breaths.

Continue CPR until help arrives.

How to Use a CPR Face Mask

Once more, before starting CPR, have someone call 911. If you’re alone, grab that phone and do it yourself. Speaker phone is a lifesaver!

Again, you must first remove the mask from its carrying case or pouch. Align the smaller portion over the nose and the bigger portion over the mouth.

CPR Mask
Gotta remove it from the pouch.

Apply firm pressure to the mask to create a seal. (Otherwise, air will leak out of the sides of the mask.)

Again, standard CPR applies – use two fingers under the chin to tilt the head and give two rescue breaths.

CPR Mask Breathing
Make sure you have a tight seal!

Continue CPR until help arrives.


CPR masks may seem like one extra thing you need in your first aid kit, but trust me, you’ll want it – especially if you ever intend to render aid to strangers.

CPR Masks and Face Shields
Always good to have!

Whether you opt for a face shield or a face mask these keep you and your victim safe.

At the end of the day, make sure you take an approved CPR course and get spun up on how to help.

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Which style do you carry? Let us know in the comments below. To see more essential first aid gear, check out our EDC Medical Kits.

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