1 in 100 people will have an unprovoked seizure at some point in their lives. Seizures can happen to anyone at any time and there isn’t anything that can be done to stop a seizure once it starts.
Most seizures aren’t emergencies and last between 30 seconds to two (2) minutes.
The best thing to do is provide care until the seizure stops on its own.
In the event of a seizure, follow the instructions of the person’s seizure response plan if they have one. If there isn’t a seizure response plan, this article will guide you on how to provide first aid.
- Should you call 999?
- What is first aid for a seizure?
- What not to do when someone is having a seizure
- How to help someone after a seizure
If you have a seizure, should you call “999”?
Whilst in most situations an ambulance does not need to be called when someone has a seizure, there are certain circumstances that require emergency aid.
Call “999” if:
- The seizure lasts more than five (5) minutes or is two (2) minutes longer than usual for them
- They are having breathing difficulties
- They have been injured
- They are pregnant
- Another seizure has started with no recovery time between seizures
- They are unresponsive five (5) minutes after the seizure stops
If none of the above apply, you can provide first aid.
Why do you need first aid for a seizure?
First aid for seizures is intended to keep the person safe until the seizure stops on its own.
When you see someone having a seizure, do the following to keep them safe:
- Time the seizure — How long the seizure lasts will determine whether or not you need to call an ambulance.
- Cushion their head — Head injuries are common during seizures especially when there are hard floors or objects that can cause harm.
- Roll them into recovery position — To prevent choking, roll them onto their side if they have something in their mouth or after they stop moving.
- Stay with them until the seizure stops — They may be confused or disoriented afterwards. Help them remain calm and safe.
[Image description: A person is lying on the floor during a seizure. Another person is holding the head of the other individual to protect it from injury.]
What not to do when someone is having a seizure
There are a lot of misconceptions about what to do when someone is having a seizure which can actually cause harm.
Here are four (4) things that you should not do:
- Do not put anything in their mouth — There is a myth that people can swallow their tongue during a seizure. Swallowing one’s tongue is impossible and placing objects in a person’s mouth could chip their teeth or cause them to choke.
- Do not move them unless they’re in danger — It’s best to cushion their head and provide a soft surface if possible. Only move them if there is danger such as fire, a body of water, or sharp objects.
- Do not restrain them — This can cause injury to the person and yourself as their movements would be uncontrolled depending on the type of seizure
- Do not be alarmed if they are confused or uncharacteristically aggressive after a seizure — It’s normal for someone to be confused after coming out of a seizure
How to help someone after a seizure
It’s normal for someone to be confused or even aggressive after a seizure. Make sure to stay with the person until they are fully conscious. Check if they have any injuries and provide them a safe and comfortable area to rest.
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