How Long Should You Check To Ensure A Person Is Breathing (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 10 seconds

Breathing is the most necessary body function for a human. It happens due to some reason a person can find problems in breathing. In such cases, CPR is administered to regulate the breathing back to normal.

CPR is the ultimate rescue operation that is to be done when a person faces breathing issues. CPR is a form of first aid that involves checking the breathing after the person has faced a massive injury or after they meet with an accident.

Checking the breathing is an important step that ensures that the person is out of danger. After the breathing is checked, first aid can be administered or the person can be sent away for further examination.

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How Long Should You Check To Ensure A Person Is Breathing?

A person is prone to many unforeseen risks that may result in being unconscious. Sometimes when a person drowns or meets with an accident, their breathing stops for a while. The breathing can become shallow, and after some time, it also comes to a usual rate.

However, how long the person is not breathing will eventually decide whether the person will live or not. The breathing can become normal on its own or by other methods such as CPR. Hence checking a person’s breathing for a few seconds is very important.

CPR means Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. CPR is a lifesaving activity that can be given to someone who had an accident or faced a heart attack causing their breathing to stop. However, even CPR is not administered directly to the person after an accident or drowning. 

First, it is checked for about 10 seconds whether the patient is breathing or not. If the breathing is shallow, the patient does not need CPR. However, if the patient does not take a breath for more than 10 seconds, immediate CPR is given to the person. 

The first step to check the person’s breathing is to check if their chest is rising and falling. The next check that needs to be done is to listen over the patient’s mouth and nose to hear the breathing sounds. Finally, the breathing needs to be checked by feeling the breath of one’s cheeks for about 10 seconds.

Breathing CheckPeriod for which the breathing is to be checked
Before administering CPR10 seconds
After CPR4 to 5 seconds

Why Should You Check To Ensure A Person Is Breathing For So Long?

The human body is a very fragile mass of tissues and cells. The body has some very complex functions that are important. Breathing is one such function without which the person cannot live. Several causes can lead to a person not being able to breathe. Hence it becomes imminent to check whether the person is still breathing or not.

Things like accidents or health problems can stop the breathing process of a person. The breathing can stop suddenly or over time. There can be many symptoms that can be noticed before a person’s breathing stops. The symptoms could be like sharp chest pain or the person’s breathing rate going lower and lower. Eventually, the breathing can also stop altogether.

Once the breathing stops, within around four minutes, the brain can damage permanently. After the brain damage, in under or about four minutes, the person can die. Hence it becomes necessary to revive the person before the brain damage. 

After checking that the person is not conscious, it becomes imminent to make sure that the breathing is within the next 10 to 20 seconds so that if need be, CPR can be administered, after which the person can be revived without any severe damage to any organ.


When breathing stops, the condition is called apnea. There can be several types of apnea that including sleep apnea, temporary apnea, or permanent apnea. However, in any case of apnea, if the person does not start within 7 to 8 minutes, they will eventually die. 

CPR is proved to be a helpful aid in reviving a person by first checking the breathing. Then through the process of mouth-to-mouth breathing, the air is pushed into the victim’s mouth to help the body to start the stopped breathing. It is necessary to put the person in emergency medical care once they are revived via CPR.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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