Can you conduct mouth-to-mouth resuscitation?

Updated on August 20, 2022

During emergencies where a victim is having breathing difficulties or their hearts have stopped working, you can save the person’s life. And this you do by conducting Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which combines two primary rescue methods – compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

In this article, we’ve covered how and when to give rescue breaths through mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Understanding mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is one of the CPR techniques used to provide artificial ventilation to someone experiencing breathing difficulties. 

It involves the process where you press your mouth against the victim and blow air into the victim’s lungs to stimulate respiration. 

In simpler terms, it entails providing air to a person who is not having sufficient air or when a pocket/bag mask is not available. Then, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation would be effective in providing oxygen into the victim’s lungs.

However, mouth-to-mouth resuscitation should only be conducted with trained CPR rescuers. The American Heart Association discourages untrained persons from performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. But instead, they should stick to hands-only CPR in cases of heart and breathing emergencies. 

The good news is, you can thrive as a passerby CPR and save lives even if you are an untrained person and you come against a person with breathing difficulties, especially the drowning victims.

So how can you conduct mouth-to-mouth?

Steps for effective mouth-to-mouth

Ensure you have a safe environment 

Before you begin any first aid activity, especially CPR mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, you need to ensure you have a safer surrounding. 

This is for two good reasons, your safety, and the victims. Since you’ll be required to position or lay the victim on a flat surface, ensure you check out and remove anything that may be dangerous to your life. 

For instance, if the victim had collapsed in a dangerous area with fallen power lines, sharp objects, or treacherous terrain, then remove any danger that would put your life at risk.

Elicit response from your victim and check for the victim’s airway

It would be wise to help someone if you know what they are going through. And to be sure the victim is breathing or not, you have to move closer to the person and gently shake them. Or, you can check for breathing by placing your ear next to the victim’s nose and mouth and listen or feel for any breathing activity.

Also, you can watch or feel the victim’s chest to confirm if it rises and falls when they breathe in and out.

Should you get no response, then call for immediate assistance. You can dial any emergency number within your area. 

But, if there are no paramedics around, you have the responsibility to help save the person’s life.

That said, you have to check if their airway is clear or whether something is blocking it.

Checkout or clear the victim’s airway 

First, you have to ensure the victim is lying on their back. Then gently tilt their head, tilt the chin and try to open their mouth. Please have a look into their mouth and throat to make sure it’s clear. 

Should there be a foreign matter in the victim’s mouth, then you must ensure you gently roll the person onto the substance’s side and allow the object to roll out of their throat or mouth. You can also try and swipe it out with your fingers. 

Better still, you can apply the Heimlich maneuver to remove any substance that had to fail to get out of the victim’s throat. If you manage and the patient gains consciousness or response. You don’t need to conduct mouth-to-mouth resuscitation since they are already breathing.

Start mouth-to-mouth resuscitation

If the victim is not breathing, then you must immediately begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to save their life. So, pinch the victim’s nostrils close with your thumb and forefingers to ensure that no air being pushed into the mouth doesn’t escape through their nose.

Take a deep breath, seal the victim’s mouth with your mouth and ensure no air can escape. Puff firmly into their mouth- you can blow two quick, slow breaths. After the second blow of breath, you can listen and watch if their chest moves or rises. 

You can also check if they have a pulse by placing your two fingers on their carotid artery besides Adam’s apple to feel any movement.

It would help if you continued mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until the victims breathe, or the paramedics arrive. But if the medical professionals are taking long, you can also combine chest compressions with rescue lives at intervals. 

You can perform 20-30 chest compressions followed by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, repeat the cycle until professional help arrives.

However, should the procedures work, don’t move until you confirm the victim has recovered. Roll them on their side or recovery position and reassure them of safety while you wait for paramedics.

Warning! You must first check if the mouth of the victim has wounds or is bleeding. Should you find open wounds, it is advisable you don’t conduct mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as it exposes you to HIV infections.


Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation may not be advisable for most heart attack conditions. However, it would help save most situations related to drowning. Or when the victim’s airway is blocked, and they need immediate ventilation. Then mouth-to-mouth resuscitation would help save a life.

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