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How to Help Someone Having a Seizure

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Do you know what to do if someone is having a seizure? November is Epilepsy Awareness Month and although seizures aren’t a common occurrence seen every day, it’s important to understand how to render first aid to someone experiencing one. Here’s what you should know!

How to know if someone is having a seizure.

Seizures will appear differently based on the type of seizure a person is having.


  • Tonic-clonic seizures (or grand mal) can appear as an individual shouting, dropping to the ground, losing consciousness, and jerking or having muscle spasms.
  • Absence seizures (or petit mal seizure) can appear as someone being completely zoned out or continuously blinking fast.


  • Simple focal seizures can make an induvial twitch or cause a transition in senses such as an odd smell or taste all of a sudden.
  • Complex focal seizures can cause an individual to have confusion, they will need a couple moments following the seizure before communicating normally again.
  • Secondary generalized seizures start off on one side of the brain and eventually spread to both sides.

Steps for first aid if your child has a seizure.

Witnessing someone have a seizure can be frightening for anyone, but always remember to keep yourself and those around you calm.

  • Comfort and assist the individual experiencing any kind of seizure by:
  • Talking in a calming tone.
  • Remain with them until the seizure is over and they are fully awake and alert.
  • Guide them to a comfortable place to sit.
  • Wait until they are alert to explain what happened to them.

Here’s how you can help someone having a tonic-clonic seizure:

  • Gently assist them to the ground.
  • Put down a pillow-like object underneath their head, such as a folded piece of clothing.
  • To encourage easier breathing, roll them on one side of their body.
  • Take off their eyeglasses.
  • Move any clutter or potentially dangerous objects out of the way.

If you are witnessing someone experience a seizure, remember to:

  • Never have the individual drink water or eat unless they are fully alert.
  • Never give CPR, the individual should breathe normally on their own following the seizure.
  • Never try to restrain the person or hold them down.
  • Never put objects in an individual’s mouth as this can cause damage to the jaws or teeth.

When to call 911 for children having a seizure.

  • The duration of the seizure runs over 5 minutes.
  • They have no history of seizures.
  • More than one seizure occurs in the same time frame.
  • The seizure happens while in water.
  • The individual has trouble walking or breathing properly after the seizure.
  • There is an injury during the seizure.

Regardless of the date published, no content on this website should ever be used as a replacement for direct medical advice from your primary care provider or another qualified clinician.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.