ASHI and MEDIC First Aid Blog

September 8, 2020

How to Position Your Hands for CPR

CPR can help keep the brain and other vital organs alive during cardiac arrest by pushing oxygen-filled blood throughout the body. High-quality chest compressions are the most important part of CPR and have the biggest impact on survival of cardiac arrest.

So, it’s crucial that you practice proper hand placement when performing chest compressions.

CPR hand placement for adults

For adults, position your hands in the center of the chest between the nipples. Follow these chest compression steps to ensure you are positioned correctly:

  • Place the heel of one hand in the center of the chest on the breastbone.

  • Place the heel of the other hand directly on top of the first.

  • Lift or interlace your fingers.

  • Position your shoulders directly over your hands.

  • Keep your arms straight.

  • Push straight down (aim for a compression depth of at least 2 inches).

Allow the chest to fully rise between compressions. And avoid lifting your hands completely off the chest.

Push hard and fast until you see obvious signs of life or until EMS arrives and takes over.

CPR hand placement for children and infants

While the overall goal of compressions is the same, there are a few key differences to note when performing CPR on a child or infant.

For children age 1 year to puberty, continue to position your hands in the center of the chest between the nipples. Use 1 or 2 hands for compressions, depending on the size of the child. If you become fatigued during compressions, use both hands to ensure you continue to reach the desired depth (about 2 inches or 1/3 the depth of the child’s chest).

For children younger than 1 year, position 2 fingers in the center of the chest just below the nipple line. An infant’s body is much smaller, so you only need to use 2 fingers for compressions instead of your hands. Aim for a compression depth about 1.5 inches or 1/3 the depth of the child’s chest.

High-quality compressions save lives

Anyone can perform compression-only CPR, even without training. To recap:





Compression Technique

2 hands

1 or 2 hands

2 fingers

Compression Location

Center of chest between nipples

Center of chest just below nipple line

Push Hard

At least 2 inches

About 2 inches

About 1.5 inches

Push Fast


Contact your local Training Center to practice your compression technique and get certified in CPR, AED and First Aid.




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