How to be safe: the recovery position

Why use the recovery position?

• It keeps the casualty in a stable position with the airway clear
• It prevents the casualty’s tongue from blocking the airway
• It promotes drainage of fluids, such as blood or vomit, from the mouth
• It keeps the casualty in a safe position if they have to be left alone
• If the casualty was left on their back their tongue could relax and block the airway

This is the best position for a casualty who is unconscious and still breathing.

Position the arm nearest to you at a right angle.

Recovery 1

Move the other arm so the back of the hand is against the cheek as shown in the diagram.

Recovery 2

Pull the knee towards you, ensuring that the hand stays pressed against the cheek and position the leg at a right angle.

Recovery 3

Check that the casualty’s airway remains open by tilting the head back and lifting the chin.

Recovery 4

Monitor the casualty’s condition until help arrives.


Images courtesy of Think Safe (

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