How to Open the Airway in an Unconscious Person


( – Knowing how to help a person during an emergency is a critical component of survivalism. One can never know when they might be called upon to save another person’s life.

Not every life-threatening situation is going to be obvious. A person who has fainted, for example, may be in a lot more danger than meets the eye. In the following video, Keith Sleightholm explains why:

As Keith explains, it’s important to open an unconscious person’s airway before administering CPR or placing them in the recovery position. An unconscious individual’s tongue can fall to the back of their throat, closing off the airway and suffocating the person. To stop this from happening, the head tilt and chin lift maneuver is used.

Placing one hand on their forehead and one hand under their chin, tilt the head back. This action pulls the tongue away from the back of the throat, opening the airway so the individual can breathe.

Once this is done, placing an ear by the person’s mouth will allow the caregiver the ability to hear if they are breathing. Chest movements are also an indication that the person’s airway is open and they are breathing in an unrestricted manner.

It’s important to understand that the head tilt chin lift maneuver can exacerbate a spinal injury. If spinal damage is suspected (such as after an automotive accident or fall from a height), a jaw thrust is recommended instead.

Perform this maneuver by using the index and middle fingers to physically push the back of the victim’s lower jaw upwards while the thumbs push down on the chin to open their mouth. This reduces the risk of trauma to the neck while still moving the tongue away from the airway.

Knowing how to appropriately act when a person is in danger can mean the difference between life and death for them. For more information on how to help a person who has fainted, check out our article here.

~Here’s to Your Survival!

Copyright 2023,