How to Perform Hands-Only CPR


Introduction: How to Perform Hands-Only CPR

About: Working with the American Heart Association to teach YOU how easy it is to save a life :)

When a teenager or adult collapses suddenly, it can be a scary situation. While you can’t change what has already happened, you have the ability to act quickly and potentially save a life. Many people experience anxiety at the possibility of hurting the victim or doing something wrong, but CPR can save lives and the victim is better off with help than without.

In case you do see a teenager or adult suddenly collapse, these are the steps to follow:

Step 1: Call 911

Either call 911 if you are by yourself, or get someone else to call 911.

Step 2: Push Hard and Fast in the Center of the Chest

Make sure the victim is lying flat on the ground. Place the heel of one palm in the middle of their chest. Place your other hand on top, mimicking the first hand, and interlock your fingers.

Begin pushing on the center of the chest hard and fast until help arrives, keeping a rhythm of 100 compressions per minute. If you start to feel tired, someone else can take over. But whatever you do, don’t give up -- you might be the only chance this victim has.

Step 3: Don't Stop Until Help Arrives

Stay with the victim (while performing Hands-Only CPR, or while someone has taken over for you) until paramedics arrive.

Note: Hands-Only CPR can be used in place of conventional CPR (CPR with compressions and breaths) for victims over 8 years old. Conventional CPR should be used for anyone under the age of 8 years old, or for any aged victim of drowning, drug overdose, or a collapse resulting from breathing problems. Anyone over the 8 years old who you have not seen collapse should also be given conventional CPR. (Hands-Only CPR video from the site, available here),



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    Why is everyone so scared of breathing into someone elses mouth anyways?

    1 reply

    lots of bacteria that could be harmful thats why you use mouth barriers

    I took a CPR course many, many years ago before it was hands only.  I could never remember how many compressions interspersed with how many breaths, etc.  Still, shortly after I took the course some fairly young child saved the life of an adult by doing CPR after merely seeing it done on a TV drama. 

    I remember cautions against too much compression, lest the sternum be cracked.  Still, it almost sounds like any CPR done within limits is better than nothing.

    1 reply

    "Still, it almost sounds like any CPR done within limits is better than nothing."

    You're absolutely right. The AHA actually just released a statement about how CPR by an untrained bystander is better than not helping at all:

    He/she did not claim that it had useful links, only that he/she had quoted something from that site and had left the source for evidence.

    The link is to a kids area where you can do things like earning points (not sure what for). The main page will help a person find a course in which they can learn CPR, it'd be a better link for anyone who would like to do so. I didn't find any CPR instruction in the kids area, if I missed it would you point me in the right direction?


    Be the Beat is a site created by the American Heart Association aimed at teens to demonstrate how anyone can save a life. The source referenced for this Instructable is the Hands-Only CPR video from the site, available here. We’ve also added a link to more information on the AHA’s official Hands-Only CPR site,

    I didn't find that when I was looking. What you just said there would be helpful to have in the Instructable, maybe copy & paste it into the last step?


    I am glad some one posted this instuctable, BUT I DO NOT think anyone should be learning CPR hands only or otherwise from the internet. There are many community centers and places to learn CPR from professonals. 
    The American Heart Association(AHA), and American Red Cross both have non-heathcare provider courses that are great for the lay rescuer. I implore everyone to seek proper training for this technique for there is a lot that can be harmed by improper hand placement, and non correct depth of compression.

    my credentials on this subject. I AM AN AHA CPR INSTRUCTOR FOR THE HEALTHCARE PROVIDER LEVEL, as well as an AHA first aid instructor.

    1 reply

    It is still recommended that you take course in CPR to learn the procedure in depth and achieve the confidence to assist in an emergency situation. However, even knowing just the two steps could mean the difference between life and death for a victim. The web sites were created to offer an alternative to a full training course so as to enable anyone to save a life.

    I will admit that it's been many years since I took a course, and have never had to use it, but you left out a bunch of stuff.  Not sure how much good this hands-only CPR will do a victim anyway.

    First, you should check for a pulse, to make sure you even need to be doing this.  If the heart is already beating, you don't want to mess it up.

    Breathing is important, you need to check to see if the victim is breathing.  The whole point is to keep oxygen circulating through the body.  If you make sure there is a clear air-way, they might start on their own anyway.  There are other methods of resuscitation other than mouth-mouth.  You can also use a barrier, like thin cloth.

    The position of your hands on the sternum is important, there is a tiny, triangle shaped bone at the base, which can be broken off pretty easily.  Use two fingers to measure up from the base.

    100 compressions per minute seem like a really high rate, but it's been a long time. 

    1 reply

    It is important to check to see if the victim is responsive or breathing normally before performing CPR, you are absolutely correct. You’ve also indicated that you are concerned a person might do more damage than good if you have not been properly trained in CPR. While the AHA does recommend that you take a course in CPR, on average, any attempt to provide CPR to a victim is better than no attempt to provide help. While it’s possible that you may fracture the victim’s ribs or sternum, the chance of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is near zero for a victim who does not immediately receive high-quality chest compressions with minimal interruptions, followed by additional therapy within minutes (a defibrillating shock and/or more advanced care from EMS personnel).

    You mentioned that there are many pieces of information that were left out from the Instructable. Often times, people won't do anything when someone goes into cardiac arrest because they are afraid they may hurt the victim or they don't know what to do. By simplifying the CPR process, the AHA hopes to inspire more people to jump in and save a life in an emergency situation. That said, they still recommend you to take a training course in CPR -- the more practice you get, the more confident you'll be when a real emergency hits. As mentioned in Step 3, Hands-Only CPR should not be used for anyone you didn’t see collapse. In that case, it is recommended that you use conventional CPR.

    Thanks for the feedback everyone. We’d like to address your questions and concerns one by one.


    "...the good samaritan laws will not protect you...."  In Missouri they most certainly will.  I spoke to a law school friend of mine about this very thing and he assured me that the GS laws will cover you if you don't know cpr and try to give it.