Encountering someone having a seizure: What to do
When encountering someone having a seizure, many are unsure of what to do. Learn the first-aid steps to ensure the safety of the person having a seizure.
Key things to remember when providing seizure first aid for generalized tonic clonic (grand mal) seizures:
- Stay with the person throughout the seizure.
- Time the seizure. Most seizures do not last more than 60 to 90 seconds. Call 911 if the seizure lasts longer than five minutes.
- Protect from injury. Clear the area around the person of any sharp or hard objects.
- Loosen anything tight around the neck. Loosen ties or anything that may make it difficult for the person to breathe.
- Do not restrain the person. This may upset or confuse them.
- Do not put anything in the mouth. This can injure teeth or the jaw. A person having a seizure cannot swallow his or her tongue.
- Roll the person on his/her side as the seizure subsides. This will prevent them from choking on vomit or saliva.
- After the seizure talk to the person reassuringly.
When to seek medical help
Not all seizures require immediate medical attention. However, there are times in which you may need to call 911. Call for emergency help under the circumstances listed below:
- The person has been injured during the seizure
- The person stops breathing following the seizure
- The seizure lasts longer than five minutes
- The person is pregnant or diabetic
- If you believe it to be their first seizure
- The person has another seizure soon after the first one.
- The seizure happens in water.
Be sure to check for a medic alert bracelet, a medical identification card, or other jewelry that identifies the person as someone who has epilepsy.
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