Seizure First Aid

Seizures can result in a temporary change in a person’s awareness and physical behavior. Every type of seizure can leave a person vulnerable to injuries, therefore first aid should focus on protecting an individual from harm.

Here are general instructions to help if someone is having a seizure:

  1. Check if the environment is safe. Clear the area around the person of any items that could hurt him/her, such as furniture and hard or sharp objects. Keep the patient away from water or fire sources.
  2. Remove ties or any objects around the neck and face that could interfere with breathing.
  3. Note the time the seizure starts.
  4. Stay with the patient and note the symptoms. If the patient does not collapse but is confused, gently try to guide them away to a safe area. Stay calm and reassure the patient by speaking quietly.
  5. Do not put anything in the patient’s mouth. Putting an object in the patient’s mouth is dangerous for both the patient (they could suffocate) and yourself (masticatory muscles are the most powerful of the body and a bite could produce serious injuries). A person cannot swallow his/her tongue.
  6. If the patient collapses, ease the person to the floor, cushion the head.
  7. Do not hold the person down or try to stop the movements.
  8. Note the time again. If a seizure does not stop after 5 minutes, call 911.
  9. Once the seizure has stopped, turn the patient into one side. Check that their mouth is open and that there is nothing obstructing the airway.
  10. Stay with the patient until the seizure ends and he/she fully recovers. Check that the patient is breathing. If the patient has trouble breathing, call 911. Do not give anything to eat or drink until the patient completely recovers full awareness.

When to call 911:

  • It is the person’s first seizure.
  • The person injures him/herself.
  • The person is pregnant or sick.
  • The seizure occurs in water.
  • The person has trouble breathing after the seizure.
  • The seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes or the patient has multiple seizures.
  • The patient does not return to his/her baseline state.