When and How to Perform Rescue Breaths

If someone’s heart is still beating, they are only not breathing-technically they only need rescue breaths. You don’t need to do chest compressions if their heart is already doing the work for them. There are a few differences between rescue breaths for adults and infants.

Adult Rescue Breaths:

  1. Till the chin back
  2. Pinch the nose closed
  3. Blow enough air to see the chest rise
  4. Repeat every 5-6 seconds

How to perform CPR: Guidelines, procedure, and ratio

Child/Infant Rescue Breaths:

  1. Tilt the chin back
  2. Cover their whole mouth and nose with your mouth
  3. Blow just enough air to see the chest rise
  4. Repeat every 2-3 seconds

Some situations that people might be in where they still have a heartbeat, but are not breathing include opioid overdoses. When someone has too much of a feel-good drug, their brain tells them to relax and they don’t feel like they need to breathe. There’s a small length of time between someone not breathing and their heart stopping, though.

Be careful to not blow too much air into a person. Giving someone too much air can cause the air to overflow into the stomach and cause vomiting. This places the person at risk of aspiration-or choking on the vomit. If this happens, turn them on their side and wipe their mouth clean before resuming rescue breaths.

If you do not want to put your mouth directly on someone else’s mouth, you can use clothing as a barrier. There are small keychain masks that you can carry with you that act as a barrier device in rescue breathing situations. 

As you perform rescue breaths, you want to check for a heartbeat about every 2 minutes. If you do not feel a pulse, it is time to add chest compressions. A rate of 30 compressions to 2 rescue breaths is your goal as an individual rescuer.

BLS certification is for healthcare providers, and First Aid CPR AED is for non-healthcare workers needing certification for work or for a regulatory agency. To sign up for a course, look at our available dates and times!

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