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Step by Step Guide on Recovery Position

recovery position

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The recovery position is a first aid step that helps protect the airway of an unconscious person.

A person who is unconscious and is lying on their back is at risk of having an airway blockage. This situation can be fatal within minutes due to the lack of oxygen travelling through the body.

This article examines the essential role of the first aid recovery position in saving lives.


What is the Recovery Position in First Aid

For many years, the treatment of choice for unconscious casualties to promote regular breathing is to place them in the recovery position. This technique involves rolling a person onto their side to protect the airway.

The idea is to allow stomach contents to drain out and the person’s tongue to flow forward. It is a sensible way to prevent any fluids, secretions, or vomit from going to the lungs, leading to choking or creating a condition known as aspiration pneumonia. Aspiration pneumonia is an infection of the lungs from foreign materials.

Learn the proper way of putting someone in this lifesaving position by attending first aid and CPR courses. Various techniques are available that teach participants how to roll a person into their side without causing trouble.


6 Easy Steps to Put someone in the Recovery Position

There is a significant risk of airway obstruction even if the person is breathing but is unconscious. Here are the steps to follow in placing someone in the first aid recovery position.


  • Move to the side of the casualty.

First, move to the side of the unconscious person and put them on their back. Kneel beside the person and help position their arms. Place the furthest arm directly out from the body while putting the far arm back against the nearest cheek. 


  • Grab and bend the far knee.

Lift the person’s nearest leg at the knee and place the foot on the floor, so the leg is bent.


  • Roll the casualty into the position.

Gently roll the person toward you while protecting the head with one hand. Pull the far knee over and to the ground until the person reaches the sidewards position. Keep the legs bent with the knee touching the ground to prevent the person from rolling onto their face.


  • Tilt the head up slightly to keep the airway open.

Place the person’s hand under the chin. Doing so will stop the head from tilting and help keep the airway open.


  • Continue to monitor breathing until help arrives.

This step is vital. Continually monitor the person’s breathing and make sure that the hand remains under the cheek. If available, place a blanket or coat over them (unless there are signs of heat illness or fever). Stay with the person until help arrives.


Infant Recovery Position

Infants below one year old who are unconscious but still breathing and have a pulse will need to be in a recovery position. Doing so prevents the baby from choking while unconscious until help arrives.

Place the baby’s face down over the arm, with their head slightly lower than the body. Support the baby’s head and neck with the other hand, keeping the mouth and nose clear. Wait for emergency help to arrive.



The recovery position in first aid refers to putting someone onto their side, allowing gravity to help the tongue flop forward and the stomach content to drain out. This emergency position help clears the airway and will enable the person to keep breathing.

For precise and direct instructions on putting an adult, child, or infant into the recovery position, enrol in a first aid training course.

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