How To Check Airway, Breathing and Circulation

Accidents happen all the time. In order to minimize the danger that accidents bring, it is important to learn the basics of first aid, which begin with checking a person's airway, breathing and circulation.

If you found an unconscious person, the very first thing you can do is to make sure that his airway is open, he is breathing and that he has pulse or other signs of circulation. Here are the steps you can do to check airway, breathing and circulation of an unconscious person.

Airway. The first step in checking the stability of an unconscious person is to check if his airway is open and there are no obstructions. If the person you are checking suffered a terrible accident, his breathing might be faint and shallow. Be sure that you are careful in looking, listening and feeling for his breathing. If, however, you find that he is not breathing properly or totally, his airway might be obstructed. If you find that the victim’s airway is obstructed, try opening his airway by placing your fingers under the victim’s chin and your other hand on his forehead, and gently tilting the back of his head. This position allows the air to pass through the victim’s nose, mouth and into the lungs. If the victim is still not breathing after doing this procedure, try providing him air to initiate breathing.

Breathing. The next step is to maintain breathing. After opening the victim’s airway, keep his head tilted and pinch his nose. Place your mouth into his and begin ventilating him. As you do this, make sure to monitor his chest as you provide him with air. When you give the victim air, you need to give him two full breaths. After each full breath, give the victim’s lungs time to exhale. By listening to his mouth, you can easily detect if air is escaping. At this point, you should see the victim’s chest fall as he exhales. If the victim still does not respond to this procedure, prepare to check his pulse or any sign of circulation.

Circulation. The last step in checking the stability of the victim is to check his circulation. You can do this by looking for signs of pulse or movements. First, locate the victim’s carotid artery and see if his heart is beating. Next, you can try feeling if there is any pulse. Do this by putting your two fingers on the side part of the victim’s neck where the pulse can be easily detected.

These are the things you can do to check for a person’s airway, breathing and circulation. Remember when you are trying to provide air for the victim, avoid overinflating his lungs. This will eventually force air into his stomach, which will then result to vomiting. When this happens,  turn the victim’s head to one side and gently use your fingers to get rid of any form of obstructions from persisting.


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