Protecting a Person During a Seizure

Call 911 or other emergency services immediately if:

  • The person having the seizure stops breathing. After calling 911 or other emergency services, begin rescue breathing.
  • The seizure lasts longer than 3 minutes.
  • The person seizing is pregnant (no matter how long the seizure lasts).
  • More than one seizure occurs within 24 hours.

During a seizure:

  • Protect the person from injury.
    • Keep him or her from falling if you can, or try to guide the person gently to the floor.
    • Try to move furniture or other objects that might injure the person during the seizure.
    • If the person is having a seizure and is on the ground when you arrive, put something soft under his or her head.
  • Do not force anything, including your fingers, into the person's mouth. Putting something in the person's mouth may cause injuries to him or her, such as chipped teeth or a fractured jaw. You could also get bitten.
  • Turn the person onto his or her side, with the mouth down, unless the person resists being moved.
  • Do not try to hold down or move the person.
  • Try to stay calm.
  • If the person vomits, turn the person onto his or her side.
  • Pay close attention to what the person is doing so that you can describe the seizure to rescue personnel or doctors.
    • What kind of body movement occurred?
    • How long did the seizure last?
    • How did the person act immediately after the seizure?
    • Are there any injuries from the seizure?
  • Time the length of the seizure, if possible.

After a seizure:

  • Check the person for injuries.
  • If you could not turn the person onto his or her side during the seizure, do so when the seizure ends and the person is more relaxed.
  • If the person is having trouble breathing, use your finger to gently clear his or her mouth of any vomit or saliva.
  • Loosen tight clothing around the person's neck and waist.
  • Provide a safe area where the person can rest.
  • Do not offer anything to eat or drink until the person is fully awake and alert.
  • Stay with the person until he or she is awake and familiar with the surroundings. Most people will be sleepy or confused after a seizure.

A person who has had a seizure should not drive, swim, climb ladders, or operate machinery until he or she has seen a doctor about the seizure and the doctor has said the person is allowed to drive or operate machinery.

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised August 25, 2011

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