While health professionals say it is impossible to compile a list of safety tips to cover every person with epilepsy because every individual’s condition is different. The most important step is to talk with your physician to develop a safety plan for you and your loved ones.
General safety tips for those with epilepsy are offered below by the Epilepsy Foundation.
* A monitor in the child’s bedroom may alert you to the sound of a typical seizure.
* Avoid top bunks. A lower bunk, a regular bed, a futon or even a mattress on the floor is a safer place to sleep for a child with seizures.
* A well fitting-helmet with a face guard may protect against head and facial injuries from severe drop seizures.
* Have the child wear a life vest when near water, including the backyard pool.
* Closely supervise showers and tub baths.
* When children are riding bikes, skateboarding, or rollerblading, they should always wear a protective helmet.
* Children should avoid heights. They should not play on high playground equipment or climb trees.
* Water heaters should be set to no more than 120 degrees F. to prevent a burn.
* Older children should not cook using the stove top without an adult watching.
* If a child’s seizures are not well controlled and are occurring on a daily or weekly basis, greater precautions may be necessary such as not allowing any water activities nor bike riding. Some children who have frequent seizures resulting in falls and frequent injuries may benefit from wearing a protective helmet during any physical activity. Talk to your child’s neurology provider about what precautions they recommend for your child.
* Put a list of first aid steps on the refrigerator or some other place where it’s easy to find.
* When you have babysitters, go over first aid steps, write down the phone number where you or a relative can be reached; include the doctor’s number and the one for Emergency Medical Services on the same sheet.
* If your child is going to sleep at a friend’s or relative’s house overnight, make sure a copy of the list goes along, too, and that an adult in the house knows what to expect and what to do if a seizure happens.
Adult recreational safety
* When exercising, take frequent breaks, stay cool and save your greatest exertion for the coolest part of the day.
* Exercise on soft surfaces if you can — grass, mats, wood chips.
* Review the risks carefully before taking up sports which could put you in danger if you were suddenly unaware of what you were doing.
* Wearing a life vest is a good idea when you are on or close to water.
* Swimming can be safe and fun for everyone, but if you have seizures, avoid swimming alone.
* Tell lifeguards and friends you swim with what kind of seizures you have, how to recognize them and what to do if you have one. Make sure they swim well enough to help if you need it.
* Wear head protection when playing contact sports or when there is an added risk of falling or head injuries.
* If you ski or hike, go with a buddy; you may need someone to get help if you have a seizure in remote areas.
* Consider use of a safety strap and hook when riding the ski lift.
* Carpet floors in your house or apartment with thick under-padding.
* Pad sharp corners of tables and other furniture
* Put guards around the fireplace
* Don’t smoke or light fires when you’re by yourself.
* Don’t carry fireplace ashes or lighted candles through the house.
* Avoid space heaters that can tip over.
* Use curling irons or clothing irons with automatic shut off switches
* Select chairs with arms to prevent falling.
* Make sure motor-driven equipment, such as a lawn mower, has a “dead man’s” handle that will stop the machine if your hand releases.
* Hang bathroom doors so they open outwards instead of inwards
* Put extra padding under carpeting in the bathroom.
* Hang an “Occupied” sign on the outside handle of the bathroom door, instead of locking it.
* Routinely check that bathroom drain works properly.
* If you fall frequently during seizures, consider using a shower or tub seat with a safety strap.
* Keep water levels in the tub low.
* Consider using a hand-held shower nozzle.
* Set water temperature low so that you won’t be scalded if you lose consciousness while hot water is running.
* Avoid using electrical appliances in the bathroom or near water.
* Slide containers of hot food along the counter instead of picking them up, or use a cart when taking hot foods or liquids from one room to another.
* Use plastic dishes and cups with lids.
* Use a microwave oven for cooking.
* When you use the stove, try to use the back burners as much as possible.
* Remove burner controls from gas or electric stoves when not in use.
* Use long, heavy-duty oven mitts or holders when reaching into a hot oven.
* Wear rubber gloves when handling knives or washing dishes and glassware in the sink.