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Seizure Safety: How to Help Someone Having a Seizure

Medically Reviewed by: Andrew Bucciarelli, BS, PharmD, RPh

Picture this, you’re getting your morning coffee just trying to start your day, when suddenly the woman next to you falls down and begins seizing. What do you do? How can you help her? Learn seizure safety now and become a hero later.

November is Epilepsy Awareness Month, Solevo Family. Being that epilepsy is not only a condition approved to be treated by medical marijuana in the state of Pennsylvania, but also one of the most prevalent amongst our patients young and old,  we wanted to spread awareness on seizure safety. Keeping someone safe from further injury during their seizing episode isn’t as hard as it seems. It just takes knowledge of what to do and also, what not to do.

Helping someone who is having a seizure is less about stopping it from happening and more about keeping them safe. Education is a key factor in helping to aid someone who is suffering from a seizure, no matter how severe. So let’s jump right in and learn about seizure safety practices…

How to Tell if Someone is Having a Seizure

It is not always easy to tell when someone is having a seizure, being that it is dependent on the type and severity of the seizure. However, it is good to know some basic signs. The most commonly thought of seizure is known as a grand mal seizure and even if you are familiar with them, they can be terrifying to watch.

Grand Mal Seizures typically happen quickly and in 4 stages:

  1. The person seems to completely check out. They stop responding to their name and won’t react to any sort of stimuli, they may even collapse at this time.
  2. Muscles become tense and eventually completely stiffen up.
  3. Next comes the series of jerking movements typically associated with a seizure. These movements can last from seconds to minutes.
  4. After the jerking subsides the person should come to, but may or may not be able to talk right away. They also could appear dizzy and experience a lack coordination for a little while after.

How To Put Your Seizure Safety Knowledge to Work

Although there is nothing you can do to stop a seizure once it starts, there are several things you can do to help ensure no further injury to the person. It is important to take several seizure safety precautions when you find yourself in a situation where someone around you is suffering from a grand mal seizure.

  1. Be sure to give them room and keep others from gathering around them.
  2. Move all hard, sharp or potentially dangerous objects away from them. This includes furniture and anything else that may cause further injuries.
  3. Make sure their head is cushioned and loosen any clothing around their neck if you are able to do so safely.

It is also helpful to track the length of the seizure. If the seizure lasts for longer than 5 minutes you will want to call 911. Other reasons to call emergency medical help is if another seizure beings soon after the first, the person does not come to after seizing has stopped or is injured during the seizure.

If you are around someone suffering from a mild seizure it is important to guide the person away from hazards. Anything that may cause a risk of further injury, like stairs, water or traffic. Though they may be able to walk themselves, they will be extremely out of it and potentially unstable or shaking. It is important to gently guide them away from anything that may be harmful to them.

With any type of seizure you will want to stay with the person until they know where they are and can speak normally to you. It is also important to reassure them of where they are and that they are “okay”. Be sure to speak to them in a calm, quiet voice. Lastly, be sure not to give them food or drink until they have recovered completely.

What Not to Do When Someone is Having a Seizure

While we are here telling you “what to do”, we also want to make you aware of “what not to do”. Since there are some common misconceptions when it comes to seizure safety, we wanted to point them out as well.

So, here’s what not to do when someone is having a seizure:

  1. Try to hold the person down to stop their movements.
  2. Put something in their mouth.
  3. Leave them alone or unattended.

Having the knowledge of what to and what not to do when you are around someone having a seizure is the only the first part in learning seizure safety. The next step is to be confident enough to implement your plan in a spilt second, without overthinking it. Do you think you can do it? If it helps, Solevo Wellness has faith in your seizure safety capabilities.