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:
- 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.