R is for Recovery Position – The A-Z of First Aid with Optimum First Aid

Many of us have all been in a situation when we have had one too many glasses of wine or beer and we are feeling a little worse for wear the next day.  Or, we have been that person who has watched over our friend throughout the night when they have been in that situation.   But when this happens, what is the best position to put them in?

With Christmas fast approaching and social events filling your diary, I thought it would be timely to link this week’s blog with November’s National Alcohol Awareness Day and talk about the ‘Recovery Position’ or what is known as the ‘Safe Airway Position’.

When someone is lying on their back unconscious, the airway can be blocked in 2 ways:

  • Tongue touching the back of the throat OR,
  • Vomit if the person is sick

Because of this, It is essential that unconscious casualties take priority and obtain urgent assistance.

So how do we do this?


Take a look at this Toddler demonstrating the recover position – a great example that anyone can learn the skills required to keep someone safe.


Then……..continually monitor the person, checking:

  • Airway open
  • Breathing (regular and rhythmic)
  • Circulation (pulse)
  • Levels of Response
  • Ambulance is on its way


  • DO turn the person onto the opposite side every 30 mins if they are in a position for a prolonged period
  • DO place an unconscious heavily pregnant person on her left side to help circulation
  • DO NOT place a pillow under the head whilst the person is on their back
  • DO NOT place anything in an unconscious person’s mouth

Top Tip:

Once in the recovery position, ensure the airway is open and the mouth is facing downwards.  If it is still facing up, move the shoulder towards you by a few inches and you should find the head (mouth) will drop downwards.