Living with Epilepsy at Home
1Make your home safe. A seizure could come anywhere in the house and at any time. Your seizures may be controlled by medication. It’s still important to prepare for the unexpected by taking a few precautions that will make your home safe.
- Place fire alarms on all levels of the house. Use fire retardant materials for your furniture. These precautions help to address the possibility of a seizure while cooking or smoking.
- Install soft floors. Use cushioned flooring, non-slip linoleum or carpets rather than hard surfaces such as ceramic.
- Choose non-coarse rug material to avoid rug burns in the event of a prolonged seizure.
- Cover all hard edges of furniture, or purchase furniture with rounded edges.
- Use safety glass to avoid injury by shattering glass during a fall.
- Cover radiators and pipes that could cause burns. Be sure that your heaters are fixed to the wall and not free-standing.
- Use a low-level bed in your bedroom to cut down on injuries from falls.
- If you sleep face down purchase a safety pillow which has air holes to prevent suffocation.
2Take special precautions in the kitchen. The kitchen poses a particular threat because of appliances such as stoves which are sources of high heat. Care must be taken to avoid burns incurred during a seizure in the kitchen.
- Pans and pots on burners should have handles pointed inward so that you can’t knock them over.
- Use a wheeled cart to transfer hot plates, platters and pots to the dinner table, rather than carrying them.
- Install heat-resistant work surfaces so that you can slide hot pots and pans, rather than lift them.
- Consider using a microwave for your cooking to prevent fires from food cooking too long, and to avoid hot surfaces that could be the source of an injury.
3Make your bathroom safe. The bathroom, like the kitchen poses a special set of risks for someone who falls during a seizure. Make changes to your bathroom with an eye to eliminate the risk of drowning.
- Use doors that open either way so that someone can reach you if necessary. You can use an “Occupied” sign on the outside of the door to allow for privacy.
- Consider flooring made of rubber, or a non-slipping surface rather than a hard surface.
- A shower is safer than a bath because water drains away.
- Use toiletries made of plastic rather than glass or ceramic.
- If you do choose a bath over a shower, it’s best to have someone in the house in case you have a seizure while in the tub.
- A monitor which allows someone to listen while you’re in the tub is a good precaution.
- Run a shallow tub and begin with cold water to prevent injury if falling into the tub while the water is running.
4Sleep on your back. Protect yourself from Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy (SUDEP), a phenomenon in which a person with epilepsy dies suddenly, usually in her sleep. Though it is not clear why this happens, research shows that in 73% of SUDEP cases, the person was sleeping on her stomach. As a precaution, sleep on your back.
- Consider a wristwatch, bed alarm, or even a service dog to detect seizures that may occur while you are sleeping.
5Take extra steps if you live alone. If you live alone, you will need to make some additional adjustments to ensure your safety.
- If you wander during seizures, make sure you lock your doors so that you don’t go outside.
- Consider signing up with a medical alert hotline, such as Lifeline. You will be provided with a pendant that can detect if you fall and alert emergency services.
- Make sure your floor is always clear of any obstacles.
- Place a chair or some other barrier in front of appliances that could burn you if you fell onto them during a seizure, such as the stove or radiator.