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Giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

Created: ; Next update: 2020.

If you try to resuscitate someone using chest compressions only, you can’t go wrong. People who provide first aid don’t necessarily have to give the person rescue breaths: But if you feel confident that you can do it, for instance following a first aid course, you should combine chest compressions with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation – at a ratio of “30 to 2”: After doing 30 chest compressions, you give the unconscious person two rescue breaths, followed by 30 chest compressions, and so on. It’s very important to give the rescue breaths quickly, so you don’t interrupt the chest compressions for long. The rescue breaths shouldn’t take longer than ten seconds in total.

This is how to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation:

  • Gently tilt the person’s head back. Use one hand to hold their chin and lift it up, then keep their mouth open using your thumb.
  • Place your other hand on their forehead and pinch their nose with your index finger (pointer finger) and thumb.
  • Take a normal breath, cover and seal their open mouth with yours, and blow into their mouth for about one second. Their chest should rise visibly when you breathe into their mouth, and sink again as soon as you move away.

Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation


  • Perkins GD, Handley AJ, Koster RW, Castrén M, Smyth MA, Olasveengen T et al. European Resuscitation Council Guidelines for Resuscitation 2015: Section 2. Adult basic life support and automated external defibrillation. Resuscitation 2015; 95: 81-99. [PubMed: 26477420]
  • IQWiG health information is written with the aim of helping people understand the advantages and disadvantages of the main treatment options and health care services.

    Because IQWiG is a German institute, some of the information provided here is specific to the German health care system. The suitability of any of the described options in an individual case can be determined by talking to a doctor. We do not offer individual consultations.

    Our information is based on the results of good-quality studies. It is written by a team of health care professionals, scientists and editors, and reviewed by external experts. You can find a detailed description of how our health information is produced and updated in our methods.

© IQWiG (Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care)
Bookshelf ID: NBK469734


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