Rethinking Seizure Care Blog

Seizure First Aid: What To Do When Someone Has a Seizure

Posted by RSC Diagnostics on Aug 14, 2020

Couple of paramedics examining woman on the street

When a loved one or a friend has a seizure it can be a scary event for everyone involved. If you have never dealt with these events they can be even more terrifying. Yet, educating yourself with about what to expect when a seizure occurs can help you put your fears to rest. It’s also important that you know what to do and what not to do when you are present during a seizure.

Check out these first aid seizure tips below from recognizing a seizure, the best ways to cope, and when to call emergency medical services.

What is a Seizure?

Seizures are an electrical change in the brain that causes muscle jerking, chewing movements, loss of bowel or bladder control, loss of speech, falling or loss of balance, and in the most severe of cases, the absence of breathing for several moments. After a seizure is over, the person may feel extremely fatigued, disoriented and dizzy.

Seizure First Aid: What To Do if Someone Has a Seizure

  • Stay calm and breathe.
  • Gently move the person to the floor if possible.
  • Move the person to a safe area if possible, away from the edge of a bed or sofa, and out of traffic or crowded halls.  If the individual is in or near water, remove them as quickly as possible.
  • Remove items that could cause injury to the person. This includes ANY sharp objects such as forks, knives, pens, pencils, industrial equipment, tools, etc. Hot objects should also be removed and individuals should be moved away from cooking, heating or hair appliances as soon as possible.
  • Put a soft items such as a blanket or pillow under the head.
  • Remove eyeglasses or sunglasses.
  • Remove tight clothing and loosen shirt collars.
  • Stay with the individual until the event is over.  Wait for them to be conscious and alert to their situation.
  • Get medical treatment, if necessary, for injuries sustained or prolonged seizures.  For seizures lasting longer than 5 minutes, call 911.
  • Once the seizure is over and the individual is awake and conscious, be sure to tell them what happened as simply as possible.
  • If the seizure occurred outside of the the individual's residence, help them get home safely afterward.

First Aid: What NOT To Do if Someone Has a Seizure

  • Do NOT insert spoons into the mouth to prevent swallowing of the tongue.
  • Do NOT attempt to hold the person down.
  • Do NOT leave the individual until they have regained full consciousness.
  • Do NOT attempt CPR breathing techniques during an active seizure!  Breathing usually returns to normal as the seizure resolves.

When To Seek Emergency Medical Care

If your friend or family member is experiencing a seizure it may be frightening for you as well.  The duration of most seizures are from a few seconds up to a full minute.

  • ALWAYS call 911 when a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes.
  • ALWAYS call 911 if a second seizure occurs quickly after the first one, regardless of the duration of either seizure.
  • Be certain to seek immediate medical care if the individual has never had a seizure before.

Emergency situations include seizures in pregnant women, individuals with heart disease or diabetes, or if the seizure occurs while the individual is in water.

With proper education about your friend or loved one's medical condition, you can be more confident in your ability to help them during a seizure. Knowledge and practice can bring calm to an emergency and help you to remain in control of even your strongest emotions during a crisis.


Topics: Epilepsy Awareness