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Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


First aid for seizures involves responding in ways that can keep the person safe until the seizure stops by itself. Here are a few things you can do to help someone who is having a generalized tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure:

  • Keep calm and reassure other people who may be nearby.
  • Prevent injury by clearing the area around the person of anything hard or sharp.
  • Ease the person to the floor and put something soft and flat, like a folded jacket, under his head.
  • Remove eyeglasses and loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult.
  • Time the seizure with your watch. If the seizure continues for longer than five minutes without signs of slowing down or if a person has trouble breathing afterwards, appears to be injured, in pain, or recovery is unusual in some way, call 911.
  • Do not hold the person down or try to stop his movements.
  • Contrary to popular belief, it is not true that a person having a seizure can swallow his tongue.
  • Do not put anything in the person’s mouth. Efforts to hold the tongue down can injure the teeth or jaw.
  • Turn the person gently onto one side. This will help keep the airway clear.
  • Don’t attempt artificial respiration except in the unlikely event that a person does not start breathing again after the seizure has stopped.
  • Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally and he is fully awake.
  • Do not offer the person water or food until fully alert
  • Be friendly and reassuring as consciousness returns.
  • Offer to call a taxi, friend or relative to help the person get home if he seems confused or unable to get home without help.

Here are a few things you can do to help someone who is having a seizure that appears as blank staring, loss of awareness, and/or involuntary blinking, chewing, or other facial movements.

  • Stay calm and speak reassuringly.
  • Guide him away from dangers.
  • Block access to hazards, but don’t restrain the person.
  • If he is agitated, stay a distance away, but close enough to protect him until full awareness has returned.

Consider a seizure an emergency and call 911 if any of the following occurs:

  • The seizure lasts longer than five minutes without signs of slowing down or if a person has trouble breathing afterwards, appears to be in pain or recovery is unusual in some way.
  • The person has another seizure soon after the first one.
  • The person cannot be awakened after the seizure activity has stopped.
  • The person became injured during the seizure.
  • The person becomes aggressive.
  • The seizure occurs in water.
  • The person has a health condition like diabetes or heart disease or is pregnant.

For more information, visit www.CDC.gov.