First Aid: Rescue Breathing
Rescue breathing is needed if a person collapses and stops breathing.
This sheet is intended for helping people who have stopped breathing but whose heart is still beating (they have a pulse). If the person is not breathing and does not have a pulse, start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). In CPR, rescue breathing may also follow chest compressions if the person's heart is not beating.
The information in this sheet gives you the basics of rescue breathing. It's not intended to take the place of CPR training.
A person may need rescue breathing in the following situations:
By breathing into another person's lungs (rescue breathing), you can supply enough oxygen to preserve life. Act quickly, because brain damage can occur after only 3 minutes without oxygen.
If the person is a baby or child (age 1 to puberty) and they are not breathing but has a pulse, give 1 rescue breath every 2 to 3 seconds or about 20 to 30 breaths per minute.
In adults, call 911 first and do the following:
If the person does not have a pulse, begin CPR if you are trained to do so. If you are alone, not trained in CPR, and a phone is nearby, call 911.
Protective face mask
You may use a protective face mask. Follow the directions that came with the mask.
Step 1. Open the airway
Place the victim on their back.
Press your palm against the person's forehead. At the same time, hook your fingers under the chin and lift it away from the spine, as if pulling out a drawer. This tilts the head back and opens the airway.
If there is a possibility of a head, neck, or spin injury, place the victim on their back without moving the neck or chin.
Step 2. Check for breathing and a pulse
Look to see if the chest is rising.
Listen for normal breathing (not gasping for air).
Check for a pulse.
If there is no normal breathing and the person has a pulse, start mouth-to-mouth breathing as described in Steps 3 to 5.
Step 3. Pinch and seal
Step 4. Provide a rescue breath
Step 5. Give more breaths
It is best to be prepared in the event of an emergency. Look for classes offered by your local hospital, the American Heart Association, or the American Red Cross in your area or on the Internet.