How to Perform Hands-Only CPR

Cardiac emergencies can happen anywhere. Be prepared with a simple technique known as hands-only CPR. You can learn it in minutes, it's easy to remember, and it can help save a life.

You will need

  • Willingness to act
  • Simple skills

Step 1 Act immediately! If you see someone suddenly collapse, check the scene for safety and then see if the person responds to you by tapping them on the shoulder and shouting, “Are you okay?”

Step 2 Check for breathing Briefly look for breathing.

Step 3 Call 9-1-1 If they don’t respond, call or send someone to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number right away.

Step 4 Get into position If the person is not breathing, or is gasping, prepare to give chest compressions: Kneel beside them and put the heel of one hand on the center of their chest. Place your other hand over that hand, lacing your fingers together. Position your shoulders directly over your hands, keeping your arms straight and your fingers off the chest.

Step 5 Begin chest compressions Push hard and fast — at least 2 inches — then let the chest rise completely before pressing down again. Don’t take your hands off the chest, just your weight.

Step 6 Keep going! Keep going. Do not stop compressions until the person shows an obvious sign of life, like breathing; the scene becomes unsafe; an automated external defibrillator, or AED, is ready; you’re too exhausted to continue; or a trained responder takes over.

Step 7 Take a class Get training — and encourage others to do so — by taking an American Red Cross health and safety course. Knowing full CPR — chest compressions and breaths — will enable you to help in other emergencies, such as drowning and choking. Every household should have at least one person trained in lifesaving skills.

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