How to Check Airway, Breathing and Circulation

Check Airway, Breathing and Circulation
Check Airway, Breathing and Circulation

How to Check Airway, Breathing and Circulation. When someone is found unresponsive, you can make a difference in this person's life by first calling 911 and then following these simple steps. Just remember ABC-airway, breathing, and circulation.

Things You'll Need

  • First Aid Kits
  • CPR Classes
  • First Aid Classes


Open the airway by gently lifting the chin, which moves the jaw forward and tilts the head backward. This allows air to enter through the nose and mouth into the lungs.


Look for the person's chest to rise and fall.

Listen for the sounds of inhaled or exhaled air.

Feel for exhaled air by putting your ear near the person's mouth.


Feel for a pulse, by gently pressing two fingers (do not use the thumb) on the person's neck between the Adam's apple, or voicebox, and the muscle on the side of the neck.

To feel for an infant's pulse, press two fingers (do not use the thumb) on the inside of a baby's arm between the armpit and elbow.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid pushing the forehead back to tilt the head backward. This may extend the neck which may cause further injury in the event of a possible head, neck, or back injury.
  • Confirm breathing by looking, listening, and feeling. Chest movement alone might not signify breathing.
  • If no pulse and/or breathing is evident, immediately call 911 and begin cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

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