How to Give Chest Compressions (Hands-only CPR)

One of the most important parts of CPR is giving chest compressions. Keeping the blood moving around to all the major organs helps prevent negative effects of cardiac arrest. The faster that chest compressions are initiated, the better the odds of survival for the victim.

Where to give chest compressions

For adults and children, you want to locate the lower half of the breastbone. Using the hard part of your palm, place one hand with your fingers pointing towards the person’s side. Cover that hand with your other hand. Keeping your elbows straight, apply pressure downwards on the chest.

File:Chest-compression-hand-placement.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

How deep to do chest compressions

For children, you want chest compressions to be about 2 inches deep. 2-2.2 inches for adults is ideal. When performing chest compressions on a child, one hand is typically used, but you can use two hands if needed. If the child is larger, or you begin to tire, you can always switch to two hands.

Don’t be afraid to push too hard, oftentimes chest compressions done by non-healthcare providers are too shallow. It is okay if bones or ribs are broken because the individual will not survive without chest compressions.

File:CPR-heart-compression.png - Wikimedia Commons

How fast to compress

Chest compressions for all ages should be performed at a rate of 100-120 beats per minute. The song “Stayin’ Alive” is a commonly recommended tune to follow. A Spotify playlist including a variety of songs with the correct rate is here

Compression-only CPR does not include any breaks for rescue breaths. Continuous chest 

compressions are performed until EMS arrives. When first responders arrive at the scene, allow them to take over the rescue attempt. Giving them details such as how the victim appeared when you first found them, and how long you have performed CPR are important.

American Heart Association (AHA) is the main organization that researches and determines best practices for CPR. To sign up for an AHA CPR course, click here.

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