Emergency advice

If someone faints:

  1. Lay them down.
  2. Kneel by them.
  3. Raise their legs.
  4. Give them fresh air and monitor them.
  5. If slow to recover, treat as unresponsive.

What is fainting and what causes it?

Fainting is when someone briefly becomes unresponsive because there is not enough blood flowing to the brain. People often faint as a reaction to pain, exhaustion, hunger, or emotional stress. When someone faints, their pulse will slow down but usually picks up and returns to normal soon afterwards. If someone who’s fainted and continues to be unresponsive after a few minutes, then this could be more serious.

Signs and symptoms

Look for:

  • a brief period of unresponsiveness, often causing them to fall to the ground
  • slow pulse
  • pale, cold skin
  • sweating.

What to do

  1. Ask them to lie down.

  2. Check for other injuries. They may have hurt themselves falling down, so look for head injuries and any other wounds. Treat as appropriate.

  3. Kneel down next to them and raise their legs, supporting their ankles on your shoulders to help blood flow back to the brain.

  4. Make sure that they have plenty of fresh air. Ask other people to move away and if you’re inside then ask someone to open a window.

  5. Reassure the casualty and help them to sit up slowly. 

    • If they begin to feel faint again, lie them down again.
    • If they stay unresponsive, open their airway, check their breathing and prepare to treat someone who is unresponsive.

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Related first aid advice

How to do the primary survey

Use the primary survey to quickly assess the situation and check the casualty for injuries or conditions that could be immediately life threatening. Find out what to do.

How to do CPR on an adult

If an adult is unresponsive and not breathing normally, you need to call 999 or 112 for emergency help and start CPR straight away. Learn what to do.

Heat exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is caused by a loss of salt and water, usually through excessive sweating. Find out what to look for and what to do.

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