Knowing Epilepsy "The Community"
First Aid Precautions

Seizures Things to Remember

When you see someone having a seizure, do not be frightened.
Remain calm and remember:

  • If a person starts to bleed from the mouth, s/he has probably bitten the tongue and is most likely not bleeding for any other reason. This can be taken care of after the seizure ends.
  • During a seizure, a person often stops breathing for only a few seconds.
  • Most seizures last only 1-2 minutes, although the person may be confused for some time afterward.
  • The brain almost always stops the seizures safely and naturally.
  • Once a seizure has started, you cannot stop it just let it run its course.
  • Only in emergencies, doctors use drugs to bring a non-stop seizure to an end.
  • People dont feel pain during a seizure, although muscles might be sore afterward.
  • Seizures are usually not life threatening, but the risk is increased in seniors by extra strain on the heart, the possibility of injury, or reduced intake of oxygen.
  • Seizures are not dangerous to others.

First Aid in the Water

If a seizure occurs while a person is in the water, follow these procedures.

While in the water

  • Turn the person face up.
  • Support the face out of the water.
  • Tilt head back to keep airway clear.
  • Get the person out of the water as soon as possible.

Once out of the water

  • Place person on their side.
  • Check to see if person is breathing.
  • If the person is not breathing, begin resuscitation promptly.
  • Call an ambulance immediately. This is essential.

After the emergency

  • Ensure that the person has a medical check-up promptly.
    (Inhaling or swallowing water may cause medical problems.)

For Persons in Wheelchairs

For someone having a tonic-clonic seizure in a wheelchair

During the Seizure

  • Keep calm and let the seizure run its course.
  • Hold up the wheelchair and ensure the brakes are on to protect him or her from injury.
  • Do not put anything in the persons mouth.
  • Remove anything from the area that may cause injury or could be a hazard to someone who is temporarily unaware of their location or actions.

After the Seizure

  • Set the wheelchair to a partial recline position (not full recline).
  • Gently turn the persons head to the side to let the saliva flow out of the mouth.
  • Let the person rest or sleep if it is needed.
  • Be reassuring, comforting and calm as awareness returns.

Emergency Signs

Call an ambulance or drive to the hospital if you notice any of these warning signals during and/or after a seizure.

  • A seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or starts again after a few minutes. This could be status epilepticus, which requires immediate assistance.
  • The person feels any unusual pain after the seizure. This can be a symptom of seizure-related injury. Seniors may be bruised or have broken bones if they have fallen on a hard object.
  • The person has hit his or her head during the seizure.
  • The person experiences laboured breathing or chest pain.
  • You see any serious burns on the body.
  • Consciousness does not return after the seizure.
  • Pupils of the eyes are different sizes or dilated (bigger) after the seizure.
  • Confusion after a seizure is always common, but if the person feels confused for more than an hour after a seizure, call for help.


Seek emergency help if you notice any of these symptoms. They could be adverse effects of an antiepileptic drug (AED).

  • Allergic reactions
  • Rashes
  • Rapid eye movement when awake
  • Drunken or sloppy gait


When calling for emergency help, give the following information:

  • The type of emergency. (ie. status epilepticus or an injury due to a seizure)
  • Your name
  • The address or location and main intersection
  • The telephone number you are calling from
  • Remember, an emergency call (911) from a pay phone is free.

What to do before the ambulance arrives.

  • Be aware of anything which could cause further injury. Put out any fires. Turn off or remove exposed sources of electricity. Warn oncoming traffic.
  • Remove the person in need from smoke, water or poison gas. Generally, do not move the patient unless life is threatened.
  • Do not try to perform standard first aid for injuries such as burns and broken bones, unless you are certified to do so. Ask the 911 operator for assistance.
  • Clear a path to the patient: move furniture and unlock doors.
  • Have someone ready to meet the ambulance, if possible.
  • Be sure your house number is clearly visible from the street and turn on the outside lights at night.
  • If you live in an apartment, try to meet the ambulance at the lobby door and have the elevator ready.
  • Remember: emergency personnel must find you in order to help you.

When the Ambulance Arrives

  • STAY CALM give clear information. You may want to write the information on a piece of paper.
  • Be prepared to answer the following questions related to the patients condition:
    • consciousness
    • breathing
    • bleeding
    • how long the seizure lasted
    • changes in seizure activity
    • seizure type
    • injuries

    • NOT ALL seizures need treatment ie absence seizures, complex/partial seizures,  etc



  There are many dangers to people when they have a seizure. Depending on how well seizures are controlled will help you determine how many extra precautions you need to take to keep yourself safe. There are three main categories of things to look out for, especially around your home, but these suggestions may also be carried over to your workplace. The three categories are:

Hot Things

Try to avoid using a stove. Cook in the microwave and make coffee in a coffee maker.
Turn the temperature down on the hot water heater.
Have someone else or a laundry service do the ironing.
Make sure you can't fall onto a radiator.
Put a guard around your fireplace.

Sharp Objects

Buy unbreakable dishes.
Wear gloves when washing breakable dishes.
Do not use an electric knife for carving.
Do not use power tools.

Falling Dangers

Put carpet on your stairs and bathroom floor.
Put covers on faucet handles.
Put covers on the hard corners of furniture and counters.

Also, don't lock yourself where people cannot get to you and help you. Use a "do not disturb" sign rather than locking doors on the bathroom and bedroom.

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