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Seizure Safety: Tips for Parents

Parents play a key role in making sure their child with epilepsy is safe, while still allowing him or her to participate in many of the typical activities of childhood.

Guidelines for Keeping Your Child Safe at Home & in the Community

There are a few basic things you can do to make sure you child is safe in a variety of situations.

  • Teach family members and friends proper seizure first aid.
  • Inform family and friends when to call for help (i.e., when your child's seizure should be considered an emergency).
  • Have your child wear medical alert bracelet or necklace that says he or she has epilepsy.
  • Ensure that your child takes his or her medicine on time, every day. This is very important to reduce chance of seizures.
  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep. Not getting enough can lead to more seizures.
  • Consider a helmet for your child, if he or she has seizures that cause frequent falls.
  • A Seizure Action Plan can be a useful tool to share with family and friends. It will help them all know what to do if your child has a seizure.

Simple Steps to "Safety Proof" Your Home

There are many simple things you can do to make your home safer for your child.

  • Place padding on sharp corners, like those on tables and counters.
  • Avoid glass tables.
  • Have your child sleep on a low-lying bed.
  • Use non-slip carpet.
  • Avoid throw rugs.

If your child wanders during a seizure, try the following:

  • Shut and lock doors that lead outside. Consider putting alarms on doors to alert you if a door has been opened.
  • If your older child is ever at home alone, be sure a neighbor or friend has a house key to check on your child.
  • Put a locking "safety gate" at the top of stairs.

Heat Sources & Fires Can Be Dangerous

If your child has uncontrolled seizures, you need be extra careful when around all heat sources.

Heat safety tips for your kitchen:

  • Have your child use a microwave for cooking – this is safest.
  • If your child needs to use a stovetop, make sure he or she uses the back burner.
  • Electric burners are safer than flames.
  • Consider serving hot things right off the stove onto plates.
  • Make sure cups of hot liquid, like hot chocolate, have lids to avoid burns from spills.

Heat safety tips for around the house:

  • Be aware that hairdryers, curling and clothing irons, and open flames (fireplaces, campfires, candles) can be safety hazards and need extra caution.
  • Hot water can cause burns, so set the maximum hot water temperature in your house to 110 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
  • Consider placing guards on open fireplaces, wood stoves, and radiators.
  • Do not allow anyone to smoke in your home.
  • Do not allow your child to use or play with matches.

High Places Need Extra Precaution

If your child is still having seizures, he or she needs to be very careful around heights.

  • Put carpeting on staircases and at the bottom of stairs to reduce injuries from falls and slipping.
  • Avoid unprotected heights, like ladders. If your child wants to go up high, at home, school or for recreation, make sure he or she is wearing a safety harness and helmet.

Use Power Tools & Outdoor Equipment with Care

There are simple things you can do to make sure you child is safe when using any tools or electric equipment.

  • Make sure all equipment for cutting, chopping, and drilling has safety guards.
  • Make sure electric or gas powered equipment (lawn mowers, etc.) have an automatic shut-off switch – this means that it stops when you stop holding it.
  • When using any tools, make sure your child wears protective eyewear, gloves and appropriate footwear.

Water can be Dangerous – Both Inside and Outside Your Home

When your child is around water, whether it is in the bathroom or the local pool, extra safety precautions need to be in place. Children with seizures should never bathe and swim without close supervision.

  • Have your child take a shower rather than a bath. If you child does take a bath, keep the water level low. Ideally stay with your child while he or she is taking a bath. Ask for the bathroom door to remain unlocked.
  • Use safety glass, plastic, or a shower curtain for a shower door. Use safety glass in mirrors, as well.
  • Have your child wear a life jacket when swimming in a large body of water to ensure that he or she always stays above the water's surface.
  • Make sure your child is never left unsupervised while in a pool, hot tub, inflatable pool, wading pool, etc.

Encourage Children to Participate in Sports - Safely!

Playing sports can promote physical health, build community and enhance self-esteem. Children with well-controlled seizures can enjoy nearly all sports, from baseball to basketball to soccer.

  • Contact sports can even be OK for some children with seizures, since there is no evidence they induce seizures.
  • Swimming and water sports, harnessed rock climbing, horseback riding, and gymnastics can also be safe with for children with well-controlled seizures, as long as there is appropriate supervision.
  • Free climbing, skydiving, hang-gliding, and scuba diving are not safe.

Tips for Bicycle & Driving Safety

Bicycle safety begins at a young age. Safety rules also apply to roller blades, inline skates, scooters (anything with wheels). Helmets are essential to protect a child from scalp and brain injuries, as well as facial bruising if a seizure were to occur.

Driving is not permitted when seizures are not controlled. State laws differ as to when an individual with epilepsy can drive. Know your state's laws about driving with epilepsy.

For additional questions or concerns, contact your child's pediatrician.

Additional Information from HealthyChildren.org:

 

Last Updated
11/10/2015
Source
Developed with funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau under Cooperative Agreement Number U23MC08582 for Project Access and Cooperative Agreement Number U23MC26252.
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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