Safety should be a concern for everyone. Yet people with epilepsy and their families often express more fears of injury.  Sometimes people with seizures do need to take extra precautions, especially if their seizures are not well-controlled. However, they may also be told, often erroneously, that they should refrain from doing many activities due to these fears.

What safety concerns should people should think about?

Injury to the person having the seizure

  • Bumps, bruises or cuts are most common
  • More serious injuries are related to falling and losing awareness or consciousness during or after a seizure, for example broken bones or head injuries

Injury to the person with epilepsy after a seizure

  • People may be very vulnerable after a seizure if they are confused, alone or not able to talk or take care of themselves for a while. They may need help from a caring friend or family member or professional to make sure they stay safe during the recover period.
  • People who are confused after a seizure may walk into a dangerous area and get hurt.
  • They may not realize that they have injured themselves until much later.
  • Problems such as pneumonia can occur hours or days after a seizure if liquids of food has gotten into their lungs during a seizure. 
  • Injury to the person with epilepsy from other problems, such as side effects of medicines or other neurological problems.
    • For example balance, weakness, fatigue or vision from medicine side effects or other neurological or medical problems can lead to injuries too so don’t forget to consider these.

Seizure-related accidents that can harm other people

  • While the risks of harm to other people is low, accidents can happen and some may be preventable, for example:
    • Injuries to passengers or other people, if a seizure occurs while driving.
    • Seizures during other high risk group activities.
    • Fires from a person dropping a cigarette during or after a seizure.
Authored by: Steven C. Schachter, MD | Patricia O. Shafer, RN, MN | Joseph I. Sirven, MD on 9/2013
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