Safety Measures for Epilepsy

Safety advise for people with epilepsy


Seizures can put you at risk of accidents that can cause:


  • Bruises
  • Burns and scalds
  • Cuts
  • Drowning
  • Fractures
  • Head injuries


It is very important that people with epilepsy are aware of these risks. This is because many of them can be prevented or reduced with a few, often simple, measures. This information has suggestions for safety if a person gets provoked or unprovoked seizure.


Not all the suggestions will be right for everyone. For example, if a person is seizure-free. Or, might get a warning before a seizure and be able take measures against dangerous situations. However, if your seizures are not fully controlled, you may find these suggestions helpful.


Some of these suggestions may be difficult or expensive, to put in place.


General safety at home


  • Make sure there are no trailing wires attached to appliances that could cause a fire or burns if pulled over. Cable tidies, can keep wires out of the way
  • Use guards on heaters and radiators to stop you from falling directly onto them
  • Use a sensor hairdryer that turns itself off when it is put down
  • Don’t use heated appliances if you are alone – this includes hairdryers, irons, hair straighteners, and curling tongs
  • Switch off heated appliances immediately after use and place them out of reach until they are cool
  • Have carpets with high wool content rather than high synthetic content, to reduce the risk of friction burns
  • Install smoke detectors, which can help be helpful in two ways:
  1. They may alert other people if food is burning because you are having a seizure
  2. They will let you know that food is burning if you have memory problems and sometimes forget what you are doing


Suggestions for reducing the risk of cuts, bruises, fractures, and head injuries

  • Avoid having very hard floor surfaces - more cushioned flooring, such as carpets, linoleum, cork, and rubber, will provide a softer landing if you fall
  • Keep stairs clear of obstructions at all times, to avoid tripping
  • Put a soft rug or carpet at the bottom of the stairs, to cushion any falls. Cover any edges that are sharp or stick out, for example on furniture. Edge and corner guards are available from many different retailers.
  • Use toughened safety glass or double glazing in windows or doors, or cover ordinary glass with safety film
  • Make sure that any wide-opening upstairs windows or doors from upper balconies have suitable locks, so you can’t fall from them
  • Where possible, use cordless versions of things like irons and kettles
  • For electrical items with long wires, use coiled leads, so you don’t trip over them


In the bathroom

  • Have a shower instead of a bath – because there is a risk of drowning in the bathtub during a seizure.
  • Put ‘engaged/vacant’ signs on the bathroom door, instead of using locks
  • Have a bathroom door that opens outwards, or folds or slides open and closed. If you fall against it during a seizure, you won’t block someone from getting in
  • Make sure that any fittings are as flush to the wall as possible, to reduce the risk of banging against them if you fall
  • Have a separate shower cubicle, rather than a shower attachment over the bath
  • Use a shower screen made of plastic or safety glass or a shower curtain
  • If the shower is over the bath, cover the taps with protective material, such as a thick towel, to avoid injury if you fall
  • If possible, sit down in the shower rather than stand up, to avoid injuries if you fall
  • Make sure that the temperature controls work well and that there is a safety ‘cut-off’ in the shower


In the bath

  • Keep the water depth shallow and turn off the taps before you get in, or
  • Don’t put the plug in, but sit in the bath with the water running from the taps or a shower attachment



In the kitchen

  • Use a microwave rather than a gas or electric cooker
  • Take plates or dishes to the cooker, rather than carrying hot pans to the table
  • Use a toaster instead of a grill to avoid the risk of burning food
  • Use kettle tippers and teapot pourers, to avoid the risk of spilling hot liquid


In the bedroom

  • Avoid putting your bed against a wall or next to a radiator, to prevent knocking your limbs
  • Put cushions, pillows, or a mattress on the floor around the bed, to reduce injuries if you fall out of bed
  • Choose a low bed, so there is less distance to fall to the floor
  • Keep sharp-edged objects and furniture away from the bed


In the garden

  • Avoid getting so close to bonfires or barbecues that you could fall on them during a seizure
  • If you sometimes wonder during a seizure, ask someone to stay with you when you are near a bonfire or barbecue
  • If you do have ponds or pools, make sure they are securely fenced off when you are alone in the garden



If you have mobility difficulties, you may need to use a stairlift or vertical lift. Neither of these options is risk-free if you have seizures, and there is no perfect solution 


Vertical lifts

  • Where possible, these should have a padded interior to cushion the blow if you fall. Or you should be accompanied by some one



Sport and leisure

Most sport and leisure activities are possible for people with epilepsy, as long as common-sense precautions are taken, where relevant. Sports on or near water, or at heights, may be avoided.


Safety Alarms

There are different types of alarms that can be helpful for some people with epilepsy.

These include:

  • Bed alarms that can sense different things when someone is asleep, such as unusual sound, movement or dribble
  • Fall alarms can be activated when someone falls to the ground
  • Telephone alarms, which can be operated by remote control by someone who needs help



Epilepsy identification

You may choose to carry or wear some form of identification, especially if you are out on your own. This can include an ID card or medical ID mentioning type and medication for epilepsy.


‘In Case of Emergency (ICE)

This helps medical staff to quickly find out who they can contact in an emergency.

On the mobile phone contact list, enter the word ICE in front of the name of the person you would like to be contacted.  


Parents with epilepsy caring for young children

Parent with epilepsy will be concerned about their children’s safety if you have a seizure. Besides following general safety measures for all parents of young children, there are other things you can do to reduce the risk of injury and accidents. These include, for example, fitting a safety brake to the pram, and special ways of feeding, bathing, and looking after your baby or young child.