If a person is unconscious but is breathing and has no other life-threatening conditions, they should be placed in the recovery position.
Putting someone in the recovery position will keep their airway clear and open. It also ensures that any vomit or fluid won't cause them to choke.
Video: How to put someone into the recovery position
This video provides a step-by-step guide on how to put someone into the recovery position.
Media review due: 1 April 2024
Or follow these steps:
- With the person lying on their back, kneel on the floor at their side.
- Extend the arm nearest you at a right angle to their body with their palm facing up.
- Take their other arm and fold it so the back of their hand rests on the cheek closest to you, and hold it in place.
- Use your free hand to bend the person's knee farthest away from you to a right angle.
- Carefully roll the person onto their side by pulling on the bent knee towards you.
- Their bent arm should be supporting the head, and their extended arm will stop you rolling them too far.
- Make sure their bent leg is at a right angle.
- Open their airway by gently tilting their head back and lifting their chin, and check that nothing is blocking their airway.
- Stay with the person and monitor their condition until help arrives.
If you think a person may have a spinal injury, do not attempt to move them until the emergency services reach you.
If it's necessary to open their airway, place your hands on either side of their head and gently lift their jaw with your fingertips to open the airway. Take care not to move their neck.
You should suspect a spinal injury if the person:
- has been involved in an incident that's directly affected their spine, such as a fall from height or being struck directly in the back
- complains of severe pain in their neck or back
- is not able to move their neck
- feels weak, numb or unable to move (paralysed)
- has lost control of their limbs, bladder or bowels
Page last reviewed: 15 March 2022
Next review due: 15 March 2025