How Long Should A Rescue Breath Last?

Rescue breaths are a crucial component of CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and can significantly impact a person's chance of survival during a cardiac arrest or other life-threatening situations. The duration of a rescue breath should be long enough to deliver an adequate volume of air into the victim's lungs while ensuring effective chest rise. Here's a guideline on how long a rescue breath should last:

1. Adult Rescue Breaths:

For adult victims (individuals who have reached puberty or are older), a rescue breath should generally last about 1 second. The goal is to deliver enough air to make the chest visibly rise. This ensures that the airway is properly opened, and the victim receives adequate ventilation.

  1. Check for Responsiveness: Before delivering rescue breaths, assess the victim's responsiveness. Tap or gently shake the victim and shout for help. If there is no response, proceed with CPR.
  2. Open the Airway: After ensuring that the scene is safe, open the victim's airway by tilting their head backward while lifting their chin upward. This helps align the airway for effective ventilation.
  3. Provide Rescue Breaths: Pinch the victim's nose closed with your fingers, create a seal over the victim's mouth with your mouth, and deliver a rescue breath lasting approximately 1 second. Watch for the chest to rise visibly.
  4. Chest Compressions: After each rescue breath, immediately transition to chest compressions. Compress the chest at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute, following the "30:2" compression-to-ventilation ratio.

2. Child and Infant Rescue Breaths:

For child and infant victims (those under puberty age), rescue breaths may need to be adjusted. In these cases, the duration of a rescue breath should be approximately 1-1.5 seconds. The key is to provide enough air to achieve visible chest rise while being mindful of the victim's smaller size.

  1. Check for Responsiveness: As with adults, start by checking for responsiveness in child and infant victims.
  2. Open the Airway: Gently tilt the child's head backward and lift the chin for children. For infants, simply keep their head in a neutral position to maintain a patent airway.
  3. Provide Rescue Breaths: Pinch the child's or infant's nose closed, create a seal over their mouth or nose with your mouth (depending on their size), and deliver a rescue breath lasting approximately 1-1.5 seconds. Observe for visible chest rise.
  4. Chest Compressions: After each rescue breath, transition to chest compressions. For children, use the "30:2" compression-to-ventilation ratio, and for infants, use the "15:2" ratio. Compress the chest at an appropriate rate based on the victim's age.

It's important to note that during CPR, the focus should primarily be on high-quality chest compressions. The purpose of rescue breaths is to provide oxygen to the victim's lungs and body, but compressions play a critical role in circulating that oxygenated blood. Rapid, effective chest compressions are the cornerstone of CPR, with rescue breaths complementing the overall effort to support the victim's circulation and oxygenation.

Additionally, remember to follow any specific CPR guidelines or training provided by your local certification organization, as techniques and recommendations may vary slightly between organizations and may be subject to updates based on the latest research and guidelines.

CPR + First Aid Certification

Back to blog

Previous Blog Post

How Long Is CPR Training?