Do you know what to do if someone around you has a seizure?
Never Miss a Beat!
Subscribe to Our HealthBeat Newsletter!
Thank you for subscribing!
You are already subscribed.
Sorry, an error occurred. Please try again later.
Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!
What to Do When You Witness a Seizure
- Stay calm and try to clear the area of sharp objects or anything that could cause the person to be injured. Seizures do not always cause loss of consciousness, so you may need to help steer the person clear of potentially dangerous situations, like subway platforms, high areas such as ledges, walls, etc..
- Try to get the person to sit or lay down, and support his or her head if you are helping him or her to lay down.
- If the person is laying down, turn him or her on to the side. This will make breathing easier.
- Talk calmly to the person during and after the seizure.
- Stay with the person until the seizure is over.
- Call 911 if the seizure lasts for more than five minutes, if the person is injured, or if the seizure occurs in water.
- Keep onlookers away. Seizures can be scary for anyone, and a person having the seizure may be frightened, confused, or embarrassed when the seizure is over.
Seizure Care and First Aid – What NOT to Do
- Do NOT put anything in the person’s mouth! This could cause him or her to bite down and possibly break teeth, or break the object and swallow it. It is not possible for anyone to swallow their tongue during a seizure.
- CPR is generally not needed.
- Don’t panic.
- Do not give the person anything by mouth (water, pills, food, etc.) until he or she is fully awake. Having food in the mouth during a seizure may cause choking.
- Do not try to hold the person down during the seizure.
For more information on seizure care and epilepsy treatment options, visit the UPMC Movement Disorders and Epilepsy Program website.
The UPMC Department of Neurosurgery is the largest academic neurosurgical provider in the United States. We treat conditions of the brain, skull base, spine, and nerves, including the most complex disorders. We perform more than 11,000 procedures each year, making our team one of the most experienced in the world. Whether your condition requires surgery or not, we strive to provide the most advanced, complete care possible. Our surgeons are developing new techniques and tools, including minimally invasive treatments. Find an expert near you.