Remember #StaySafeSide for seizure first aid.

Learn about #ShareMySeizure

New: Seizure First Aid Certification

You can now be certified in Seizure First Aid!

About the Training

Seizure Recognition and First Aid Certification is a formal training offered by the Epilepsy Foundation that teaches people: 

  • How to recognize signs of a seizure
  • How to respond with proper seizure first aid
  • When to call for help

Why should you know Seizure First Aid? 

Knowing how to help someone during a seizure can make a difference and save a life. While there are many different types of seizures, during many of them a person may be confused, not aware of what is going on, or unconscious. Most seizures end on their own or in a few minutes. Some people go back to what they were doing quickly. Others need to recover, and it could take minutes to hours to resume usual activity. A person could get hurt during a seizure or a seizure could last too long, or the seizures could cluster

Who should be Seizure First Aid Certified?

While everyone should know basic seizure first aid, becoming Seizure First Aid Certified takes you further. You will learn how to recognize signs of a seizure and how to use the basic first aid steps in different settings, for different seizure types and when medical help may be needed.

Seizure First Aid Certification is designed for people who:

  • Have a family member, loved one, or friend with seizures.
  • Have a job where you provide care for people with seizures.
  • Have a job where you work with the public or work with someone who has seizures.
  • Coach or lead groups.
  • Work, play or live in areas or settings where seizures could occur.

How can I become Seizure First Aid Certified?

Seizure First Aid Certification Training is offered online with instructor-led webinars. It will also be available through in-person trainings with your local Epilepsy Foundation

To take an online class:

  • Register by clicking on the registration link. (If you are taking the training with others, each person needs to register separately.) 
  • After you register, you will receive a confirmation email with a link to a pre-test.
  • Take a pre-test before the training.
  • You will receive training materials by email.
  • Allow 75 minutes for the training. 
  • At the end of the training, you will be sent a link to take a post-test. 

How long does the certification last? 

The certification lasts 2 years. You will be sent an email to recertify every 2 years with a shorter online class.

Upcoming Trainings

June 2020

July 2020

August 2020

This product was developed with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under cooperative agreement number 1NU58DP006256-04-00, CFDA 93.850. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.

General First Aid for All Seizure Types

The first line of response when a person has a seizure is to provide general care and comfort and keep the person safe. The information here relates to all types of seizures. Find specific steps for responding to different seizure types here.

Remember

For most seizures, basic seizure first aid is all that is needed. The steps are simple - Stay. Safe. Side - anyone can do them.

Seizure First Aid is Stay Safe Side
Click image to download
English poster

Download the Seizure First Aid Poster

STAY with the person and start timing the seizure.

  • Remain calm – it will help others stay calm too. Talk calmly and reassuringly to the person during and after the seizure – it will help as they recover from the seizure.
  • Check for medical ID.
  • Look at your watch and time the seizure from beginning to the end of the active seizure.
  • Timing the seizure will help you determine if emergency help is needed.
  • While most seizures only last a few minutes, seizures can be unpredictable. Some may start with minor symptoms but lead to loss of consciousness or a fall that could cause injury. Other seizures may end in seconds.

Keep the person SAFE.

  • Move or guide away from harmful or sharp objects.
  • If a person is wandering or confused, help steer them clear of dangerous situations. For example, gently guide them away from traffic, train or subway platforms, heights, or sharp objects.
  • Encourage people to step back and give the person some room. Waking up to a crowd can be embarrassing and confusing for a person after a seizure.
  • Ask someone to stay nearby in case further help is needed.

Turn the person onto their SIDE if they are not awake and aware.

  • Make the person as comfortable as possible.
  • Loosen tight clothes around neck.
  • If they are aware, help them sit down in a safe place.
  • If they are at risk of falling or having a convulsive seizure or tonic-clonic seizure:
    • Lay them down on the floor.
    • Put something small and soft under the head.
    • Turn them on their side with their mouth pointing toward the ground. This prevents saliva from blocking their airway and helps the person breathe more easily.
  • During a convulsion, it may look like the person has stopped breathing. This happens when the chest muscles tighten during the tonic phase of a seizure. As this part of a seizure ends, the muscles will relax and breathing will resume normally.
    • Rescue breathing is generally not needed during these seizure-induced changes in a person’s breathing.

Do NOT put any objects in their mouth.

  • Don't put any objects like a spoon, stick or wallet into a person's mouth.
    • Don’t worry – a person can’t swallow their tongue during a seizure.
    • Jaw and face muscles may tighten during a seizure, causing the person to bite down. If this happens when something is in the mouth, the person may break and swallow the object or break their teeth!
  • Rescue medicines that are placed inside the cheek can be given if recommended by their health care team.
  • Don't give water, pills or food to swallow until the person is awake. Food, liquid or pills could go into the lungs instead of the stomach if they try to drink or eat when not fully aware.

Do NOT restrain.

  • Trying to stop movements or forcibly hold person down doesn’t stop a seizure.
  • Restraining a person can lead to injuries and make the person more confused, agitated, or aggressive. People don’t fight on purpose during a seizure. Yet if they are restrained when they are confused, they may respond aggressively.
  • If a person tries to walk around, let them walk in a safe, enclosed area if possible.

STAY with them until they are awake and alert after the seizure.

  • Most seizures end in a few minutes.
  • Injury can occur during or after a seizure, requiring help from other people.
  • If a person appears to be choking, turn them on their side and call for help. If they are not able to cough and clear their air passages on their own or are having breathing difficulties, call 911 immediately.
  • Be sensitive and supportive. Ask others to do the same.
    • Seizures can be frightening for the person having one, as well as for others. People may feel embarrassed or confused about what happened. Keep this in mind as the person wakes up.
    • Reassure the person that they are safe.
    • Once they are alert and able to communicate, tell them what happened in very simple terms.
    • Offer to stay with the person until they are ready to go back to normal activity or call someone to stay with them.

When to Call 911

  • Seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes
  • Repeated seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizure occurs in water
  • Person is injured, pregnant, or sick
  • Person does not return to their usual state
  • First time seizure
  • The person asks for medical help

Learn More

Authored By: 
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Reviewed By: 
Liz Dueweke MPH
on: 
Thursday, June 11, 2020