How to put someone into the recovery position

When a person is unconscious and lying on their back, the airway can become compromised by the tongue touching the back of the throat or vomit if the patient is sick.

Placing the casualty in the recovery position protects the airway from both of these dangers – the base of the tongue will not fall back and vomit will run out of the mouth, rather than down the airway.

Recovery position steps

Remove the victim’s glasses and straighten both legs.

Move the arm nearest you outwards, elbow bent with
palm uppermost.

Bring the far arm across the chest, and hold the back of that hand against the cheek.

With your other hand, grasp the far leg just above the knee, and pull it up, keeping the foot on the ground.

Keeping the casualty’s hand pressed against their cheek, pull on the leg to roll them towards you, onto their side.

Adjust the upper leg so that the hip and knee are bent at right angles and tilt the head back to keep the airway open.

Call for an ambulance.

Check breathing regularly. If breathing stops, turn the casualty onto their back again and perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

The steps for the recovery position are the same for children as they are for adults.

For infants, hold the infant on their side with the head tilted down.

Want to test your lifesaving first aid skills? Have a go at our free online first aid practice test.


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