Seizures themselves are rarely harmful to your body. They usually don’t cause lasting effects. But what happens during an epileptic episode can be dangerous, or even deadly.
One of the most hazardous aspects of a seizure is your risk of falling down. Many falls result in just a few bumps and bruises, but some can be much worse. Since it’s hard to prevent falls during seizures, it’s important to make the areas around you as safe as possible. Even if you don't have a history of falling down during seizures, you might fall one day. Safeguarding your home can help keep you safe.
If you fall during a seizure, your head could hit the floor. Where possible, put down a cushioned floor cover. Extra thick carpet pads can also help. They will help soften any falls and protect your head from injury.
Glass tabletops and sharp corners can cause serious injuries if you fall on them during a seizure. If you have uncontrolled seizures, avoid tables and other pieces of furniture with glass tops. Opt for safety glass or plastic if you want to attain the look of glass without the risk. Move breakable decorative items to high shelves or bookcases, where you won’t fall on them. You should also avoid purchasing sharp-cornered furniture. If you already own pieces that you can’t replace, add padded sleeves to sharp corners.
Open fireplaces are beautiful, but if you have epilepsy, they can be dangerous. If you lose consciousness or control of your body near an open fireplace, you may accidentally burn yourself. To keep this from happening, place a screen over your fireplace when it’s in use.
Freestanding heaters can also be dangerous. If you fall during a seizure and knock a freestanding heater over, you may start a fire. It may be best to avoid freestanding heaters in your household.
Hot pots and other cookware can burn anyone, but they’re particularly dangerous if you have epilepsy. When you’re cooking, turn pot handles toward the back of your stove. That way, if you fall, you’re less likely to catch the pot handle and get burned.
It’s also wise to avoid carrying big plates of hot food to the table. Ask someone to carry them for you or invite people to serve themselves from the stovetop. This reduces your risk of burning yourself in the event of a seizure.
If you have epilepsy, you’re 15 to 19 times more likely to drown while swimming or bathing than someone without a history of seizures, according to the Mayo Clinic. To help protect yourself, take showers instead of baths when possible. If you have to take a bath, ask a family member to sit with you or near the bathroom.
Never swim alone. Always have a friend or family member with you when you enter a hot tub, pool, lake, or ocean. They can help keep your head above water if you have a seizure.
Locking a bedroom or bathroom door can prevent someone from getting to you, in the case of a seizure. Avoid locking doors behind you unless someone is on the same side of the door as you. Avoid blocking the door with furniture or heavy objects too.
Climbing stairs can be particularly dangerous for individuals with epilepsy in the event of a seizure. If you live alone or have frequent, uncontrolled seizures, opt for a home that does not require you to go up and down stairs. Otherwise, avoid using them when you are alone.
If you’ve ever hurt yourself during a seizure, you know how important it is to protect yourself from injury. Some of these changes to home and habits may seem inconvenient or costly, your safety must be a priority. Make changes as you can afford them. Work with your spouse, children, other family members, or roommates to create the safest environment possible. A few safeguards now can help prevent serious accidents later.