Managing Epilepsy at Home

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Living with Epilepsy at Home

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    Make 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.
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    Take 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.
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    Make 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.
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    Sleep 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.
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    Take 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.
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