For many people, the scariest aspect of epilepsy is not knowing when or where a seizure will occur. In certain situations, a loss of consciousness is especially dangerous and emergency care must go beyond the routine procedures. A seizure in water is one of these life-threatening situations.

Here are steps to follow if someone is having a seizure in water and they have a change or loss of consciousness:

  • Support the person in the water with the head tilted so the face and head stay above the surface
  • Call for help and remove the person from the water as quickly as possible.
  • Do not restrain the person unless this is needed to get the person out of the water safely. 
  • Check to see whether the person is breathing. If not, begin CPR immediately.
  • If breathing is normal, turn person on their side and hold them in side-lying position until they recover. 
  • Call an ambulance. Even if the person appears to be fully recovered, he or she should have a full medical checkup. Inhaling water can cause lung or heart damage.

If a seizure occurs in water but without any change in the person's awareness:

  • Call for help and remove the person from the water as quickly as possible. 
  • Help the person to a safe place out of the water.
  • Stay with them until the seizure is over. 



Reviewed by: Patricia O. Shafer RN MN on 7/2016