Learn how to do CPR

These five simple steps could mean the difference between life and death. Know it and one day you could help save a life.

If a person becomes unconscious follow the instructions below before giving CPR.

  • Check for danger: Approach the person with care. Look out for hazards such as fire, traffic and electricity. Never put yourself at risk.
  • Check for a response: Find out if the person is responsive. Shake their shoulders and ask loudly ‘are you alright?’ If they do not respond…
  • Shout for help: If someone is nearby ask them to stay with you because you may need them to phone for help. If you are alone shout loudly to attract attention, but do not leave the person.
How to do CPR - Open the airway

Step 1: Open their airway

Place one hand on the person’s forehead, and gently tilt their head back, then lift their chin using two fingers of your other hand under their chin – when you do this you open their airway.

Step 2: Check for normal breathing

Keeping their airway open, check if the person is breathing normally by looking for regular chest movements, listening for breathing, and feeling for breath on your cheek. Look, listen and feel for no more than 10 seconds.

If you are sure the person is breathing normally then put them in the recovery position.

Step 3: Call 999 immediately

If the person is not breathing or not breathing normally ask someone to call 999 and ask for an ambulance.

Also ask for a defibrillator, if one is available. If you are on your own you will have to call 999 yourself, which may involve leaving the person if you don’t have a mobile phone with you

Step 4: Start chest compressions

How to do CPR - Start chest compressionsKneel next to the person. Place the heel of one hand in the centre of their chest. Place your other hand on top of the first. Interlock your fingers. You will find it much easier if you have your dominant hand on top.

With arms straight use the heel of your hand to push the breastbone down 5–6cm and release. The correct rate is 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute, that’s almost 2 per second.

You may find it helpful to count out loud. Give 30 chest compressions.

After 30 chest compressions give 2 rescue breaths.

How to do CPR - Give rescue breaths

Step 5: Give rescue breaths

Open the airway again and pinch the soft part of the person’s nose closed. Take a normal breath, make a seal around their mouth and breathe out steadily.

The person’s chest should rise and fall. Keeping the person’s head back and the chin lifted, take your mouth away, take another normal breath and give a second rescue breath. The two breaths should take no longer than five seconds.

Repeat 30 compressions and 2 rescue breaths.

Keep going until:

  • professional help arrives and takes over,
  • the person starts to show signs of regaining consciousness, such as coughing, opening their eyes, speaking, or moving purposefully AND starts to breathe normally,
  • or you become exhausted.

If you’d rather not give rescue breaths then call 999 and deliver Hands-only CPR. That’s better than doing nothing.

Learn CPR with our Heartstart courses

Heartstart courses teach you CPR and other emergency lifesaving skills and they are free to attend.

These courses differ from our Call Push Rescue training (where you watch and learn using an educational film) because the training is delivered by an accredited instructor.

There are over 3,800 Heartstart schemes across the UK supported by the BHF.