First aid kit: Recovery position

Reader's Digest Editors

If you find someone unconscious, it's crucial that you put them into the recovery position to avoid them choking and enable smoother breathing. Here's how. 

1. Position their arms and legs

stage one of the recovery position

Remove anything bulky from the casualty’s pockets. Ensure their legs are straight, then kneel beside them, level with their chest. Place the arm nearest to you at a right angle to their body with the palm facing upwards.

Pull their far leg up at the knee until their foot is resting flat on the ground. Lift their other arm, bring it across their body towards you and hold the back of their hand against their cheek.

 

2. Turn the casualty

Recovery position step 2

Grasp their raised knee with one hand and support the hand against their cheek with your other hand.

Pull on the knee and gently roll the casualty towards you. Keep the casualty’s head, back and neck aligned during turning. If you have help, one person can support the casualty’s head while you roll them onto their side.

 

3. Adjust the head position

adjusting the casualty's head

Tilt their head back slightly to keep the airway open. The casualty’s uppermost hand should be under their cheek to help maintain the correct position.

 

4. Adjust the leg and arm

adjusting the legs and arms 

Make sure the casualty’s upper leg is at a right angle at their hip and knee, their lower leg and back align, and their lower arm is at a right angle at the shoulder and elbow.

 

5. Monitor the casualty

While you are waiting for help, monitor the casualty’s level of consciousness, breathing and pulse and note any changes. If normal breathing stops, begin CPR.

 

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