Seizures: Create a Safe Space

According to Epilepsy Ontario, a seizure is a brief disruption in normal brain activity that interferes with brain function. Seizures can be as severe as full-body convulsions or so mild that you may not notice the seizure occur.

They can last a few seconds or a few minutes. A seizure occurrence, like any medical emergency, is scary. Being prepared with the first-aid knowledge to react and respond quickly can minimize the fear and help the person in need. Follow these guidelines if you witness someone having a seizure:

Remain Calm

  • Stop and think clearly.
  • The seizure will end on its own within seconds or a few minutes.

Make sure the space is safe

  • Move objects out of the way as much as possible.
  • If the person falls, place something soft under their head and as the seizure subsides, gently roll them into the recovery position (onto their side).
  • If the person is standing, stay near them and keep them from moving toward anything dangerous.
  • Once the seizure ends, stay with the person until they are alert and aware.

Watch the time

  • Make note of the time the seizure begins and ends.

Call 911 if

  • The seizure lasts more than 5 minutes or it repeats without full recovery between seizures.
  • If consciousness or regular breathing does not return after the seizure ends.
  • The person is pregnant, has diabetes, appears injured or is in water.
  • You are not sure the person has epilepsy or a seizure disorder.
  • You feel the person is not responding clearly after the seizure.

The old thinking of restraining and putting something in the person’s mouth is just that – old thinking.  Do not do either of these.  Let the seizure happen and follow the guidelines above.

People generally don’t feel pain during a seizure.  They may have sore muscles afterwards but should return to normal breathing, calmness and awareness.  If there are any concerns, medical attention should be sought immediately.

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