How do I decide what my risk is and what type of safety precautions I may need?

People who do not have seizures usually take for granted that they will be safe in their home and in their workplace. They certainly feel safe when they go to sleep, and most even feel safe when playing sports or driving. But for a person who has seizures, all these places and situations may have dangers. Injuries can be reduced, however, with some simple changes in surroundings and ways of doing things.

Deciding what to do, what not to do, and when to take precautions is hard. People need to talk to their health care team and consider a few questions such as:

  • What is my risk for seizures?
  • When do my seizures tend to occur and what activities do I undertake at that time?
    • People who have seizures only at night may not need the same precautions as someone whose seizures happen during the day.
  • What is my risk for injury- to myself and to others?
    • Risks may vary according to type and frequency of seizures or length of recovery period.
  • What type of activities do I like to do and what are the dangers?  
    • Consider in relation to the person’s age. The frequency and importance of some activities is much different for children and teens than for older adults. As a result, their risks will be much different.
  • What is the benefit of participating in these activities?
    • While potential injury is a concern, so too is the need to participate in life activities.
    • Sometimes people can be isolated due to fear of injury that’s not realistic.
    • Weighing the benefits of participating against the risk of possible injury will help people make realistic and reasonable decisions.
  • What safety precautions are available?
    • Simple safety precautions such as using protective gear may make sense for some activities.
    • Staying away from some high-risk activities may be needed for some people too.
    • Think about when an activity could be done.  Using extra safety precautions during high-risk times for seizures is common sense – and easy to do.
    • Adaptive aids or equipment may be needed for people who tend to fall or have problems getting around safely. A safety evaluation of the home, school or workplace may help you learn what kind of aids or equipment may help and where to get them.

It's important to remember that safety measures may be needed for some people living with seizures. However, measures should be planned to lessen the risk of injuries while allowing the person to live the fullest life possible.


Authored By: 
Steven C. Schachter, MD
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Joseph I. Sirven MD
Authored Date: 
Thursday, October 24, 2013