Epilepsy: 15 Ways to Avoid Accidents and Injury


Spread the Word

You never know when or where a seizure will strike. That’s why it’s a smart idea to tell the people around you the most often that you have epilepsy, what that means, and what they can do to help you if you need it. That includes family members, co-workers, people at the gym — anyone you run into on a daily basis.


Install Wall-to-Wall Carpeting

A plush carpet with plenty of padding is a safer choice than hardwood or tile floors. Soft flooring can cushion you if you take a tumble during a seizure. A cushy landing means fewer, less serious injuries. Put nonslip carpeting at the bottom of any stairs and in your bathroom, too. Don’t use throw rugs. They’re easy to trip over.


Remove Glass Furniture

Landing on it can leave you bruised and bloody. Look for shatterproof mirrors, too. Clear your home and workspace of any other items that could hurt you if you fall.


Clear the Clutter

Less is more when it comes to home decor. A crowded house or work area can be a danger zone. Keep furniture to a minimum. Clear walking areas of extension cords, file folders, pet bowls, children’s toys, and other loose items.


Pad and Secure the Furniture

Use padded child-proofing products to soften desk or table corners and sharp counter edges. You can also wrap hard objects like faucets in soft material. Secure your TV, computer, and other heavy items to a wall or heavy desk so they can’t fall on you.


Fall-Proof the Bathroom

Hard and wet bathroom surfaces pose a big risk. Put nonskid strips on the tub bottom and shower floor. Rails or grab bars are a good idea, too. Take showers instead of baths if you can — you can drown in just a bit of bathwater. Keep drains clear so water doesn’t back up and make things more slippery. You may also want to use a shower chair and hand-held water nozzle.


Don’t Lock Your Inside Doors

That makes it easier to get help from someone else in the house. Use an occupied sign for the bathroom instead. Also, be sure your doors open toward the hall and not into the room. If they don’t, and you fall against one, helpers may not be able to push it open. You can change out the hinges so they open the other way.


Avoid Open Flames

Be extra careful in the kitchen. Gas or open flame cooking surfaces, like a grill, could cause a fire if you or your clothing touches them during a seizure. Microwaves are the safest choice, or you can try an electric stove. Use the back burner on a stove top. If you have a cookout, ask someone else to work the grill.


Take the Elevator

Headed to the upper level of your work complex, doctor’s office, or shopping mall? Nix the escalator and take the elevator. A seizure on a moving stairway could be dangerous, even life-threatening, if your hair or clothing gets caught. The way some escalators move also can trigger seizures.


Get There Safely

Check your state’s laws: If you have uncontrolled seizures, you may not be able to drive. Opt for a taxi, bus, or the subway. Always stand far back from the tracks or road, so you won’t be hit if you fall. If you bike to work, always wear a helmet. Knee and elbow pads are also a good idea. Stick to side roads when you can.


Use the Right Tools

You can still enjoy gardening, yard work, and other hands-on hobbies, as long as you follow a few simple safety tips. Get a lawnmower that stops when you let go of the handle. Look for power tools that shut off when you put them down.


Find a Friend

Skip scuba diving, hang gliding, and any free-climbing sports where help can’t get to you quickly. You can still enjoy fun stuff like swimming, gymnastics, and even harnessed rock climbing. Use the buddy system so someone is always there with you. Contact sports, like football, baseball, basketball, and soccer, should be OK, but check with your doctor.


Blow Out the Candles

Sure they look and smell great. But they could start a fire if you knock them over. Battery-operated options are safer. Never carry a candle with a burning flame, even if you think your seizures are well-controlled. Get someone else to carry hot items that could burn you if you fall, like fireplace ashes or even an iron. Or wait until they cool down to move them.


Prepare for Trips

Ready for a vacation? Look for short flights or those that allow you to take a nap. A lack of sleep raises your chance of a seizure. Take someone with you who knows about your condition and how to help if you need it. Pack all your meds in your carry-on luggage. Bring extra in case your travel gets delayed.


Be Proactive

There are basic steps to take every day. The most important is to wear a medical bracelet that says you have epilepsy. If you have a seizure away from home or work, someone will know what’s wrong and how to help. Also:

  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Take your medicine.
  • Don’t drink alcohol — it can cause seizures.