Where Should You Place Your Hands In Hands Only CPR?

Where Should You Place Your Hands in Hands-Only CPR? Proper Technique for Effective Chest Compressions

Hands-Only CPR, also known as compression-only CPR, is a simplified form of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) that focuses solely on chest compressions without the need for rescue breaths. Knowing where to place your hands during Hands-Only CPR is crucial for delivering effective chest compressions and increasing the chances of survival for someone experiencing cardiac arrest. In this comprehensive guide, we will explain the proper technique for Hands-Only CPR, including hand placement, compression depth, and important tips for performing high-quality chest compressions.

The Importance of Hands-Only CPR

Hands-Only CPR is a technique recommended by organizations for bystanders who may be untrained or uncomfortable with providing rescue breaths. It simplifies the process of CPR, making it more accessible to the general public and increasing the likelihood that bystanders will take action in an emergency.

The key element of Hands-Only CPR is chest compressions, which help maintain blood circulation and oxygen delivery to vital organs. When performed correctly and promptly, Hands-Only CPR can significantly improve the chances of survival for someone experiencing sudden cardiac arrest.

Where to Place Your Hands for Hands-Only CPR

The correct hand placement for Hands-Only CPR is essential for effective chest compressions. Follow these steps to properly position your hands:

  1. Check for Responsiveness: Before starting CPR, ensure that the victim is unresponsive and not breathing normally. Tap the victim and shout loudly to assess their responsiveness. If there is no response, proceed immediately to Hands-Only CPR.
  2. Position the Victim: Lay the victim flat on their back on a firm surface.
  3. Locate the Compression Point: Identify the center of the victim's chest. To do this, find the notch at the top of the sternum (where the ribs meet), and then move your fingers down the sternum until you reach the point where the lower ribs come together.
  4. Position Your Hands: Place the heel of one hand (the lower part of your palm) on the center of the victim's chest, just above the point where the lower ribs meet the sternum.
  5. Position the Other Hand: Place your other hand on top of the first hand. Your fingers should be interlocked, and your hands should remain off the victim's chest to allow for effective chest compressions.
  6. Keep Your Arms Straight: Ensure that your arms are straight, your shoulders are directly above your hands, and your elbows are locked. This position allows you to apply even and adequate pressure during chest compressions.

Compression Depth for Hands-Only CPR

Achieving the proper compression depth is crucial during Hands-Only CPR. The recommended compression depth for adults is at least 2 inches (approximately 5 centimeters). Adequate compression depth ensures that the heart is effectively compressed, helping to circulate blood and oxygen.

Compression Rate for Hands-Only CPR

Maintaining an appropriate compression rate is equally important. For Hands-Only CPR, the recommended compression rate for all age groups (adults, children, and infants) is between 100 and 120 compressions per minute. This rhythmic pace is vital for maintaining blood flow and oxygen delivery to the body's vital organs.

Tips for Effective Hands-Only CPR

Performing Hands-Only CPR effectively requires not only the proper technique but also some important considerations:

  • Minimize Interruptions: To maintain blood flow, minimize interruptions in chest compressions. If someone else is available, take turns performing compressions to avoid fatigue.
  • Allow Full Chest Recoil: After each compression, allow the chest to fully recoil before starting the next compression. Full chest recoil enables the heart to refill with blood, enhancing circulation.
  • Stay on Beat: You can maintain the recommended compression rate by following the beat of the song "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees. The rhythm of this song closely matches the desired compression rate.
  • Use an AED: If an automated external defibrillator (AED) is available, follow the device's prompts and use it as soon as possible. Most AEDs have built-in guidance on proper hand placement and will analyze the victim's heart rhythm.

Hands-Only CPR for Children and Infants

While Hands-Only CPR is primarily recommended for adults, it may also be appropriate for older children and adolescents. For infants and younger children, traditional CPR with both chest compressions and rescue breaths is still recommended.

For Hands-Only CPR on a child, follow the same hand placement guidelines described above, but adjust the compression depth to approximately 1.5 inches (about 4 centimeters).


Hands-Only CPR simplifies the process of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and focuses solely on chest compressions. Proper hand placement, compression depth, and rate are essential for effective Hands-Only CPR, which can significantly improve the chances of survival for someone experiencing cardiac arrest.

By learning and practicing the correct technique for Hands-Only CPR, you can be better prepared to respond confidently and competently in emergency situations. Remember that Hands-Only CPR is a valuable skill that can make a difference in saving lives, and it is an approach that can be used by bystanders of all backgrounds and levels of training.

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