What to do when you see someone having a seizure


It can happen anywhere — the grocery store, work, church, in the park during a playdate. Someone around you could suffer a seizure and need your help. Would you know what to do?

Published: 12/08/2014

Gabriel U. Martz, M.D., a neurologist who specializes in seizures and epilepsy, shares this information on what to do if you witness someone having a seizure.

First aid for seizures:

  • Stay calm and be reassuring to the person having the seizure.
  • Try to keep the person from falling on hard or sharp objects.
  • If possible, lay the person down and roll them on their side.
  • Try to put something soft under the person’s head.
  • Use a watch to time the seizure as soon as you see one begin.
  • Do put anything in the person’s mouth, such as water or food. Wait until the person is alert again and can swallow without choking.
  • Try to protect the person from becoming injured, but do not hold the person down or keep them from moving. Holding someone down could hurt them more.
  • Stay with the person until the seizure stops and they are alert again. If needed, the person should be allowed to rest while someone watches for more seizures.

Many people’s first reaction to witnessing a seizure is to call 911 for an ambulance. Dr. Martz explains that calling 9-1-1 for assistance is a good idea. They may not need further medical assistance, but having trained medical professionals on hand to assist if needed is always a good practice. Share this information with the medical professionals:

  • If the seizure lasts more than five minutes
  • If the person has multiple seizures and do not return to normal in between
  • If the person has a bad injury, such as a broken bone or head wound, during the seizure
  • If the person does not start breathing normally once the seizure stops
  • If the person is pregnant
  • If the person has diabetes or a serious heart condition
  • If you are concerned that something else could be wrong
  • If the person is more confused or upset after a seizure than usual (especially if the confusion makes the person violent)

Often, the most dangerous part about a seizure is where it happens. Any situation in which a brief loss of awareness could lead to injury or death to the person having the seizure, or to somebody else, should be avoided. If necessary, potentially dangerous activities should only be done under close observation by an adult. Examples include being near water in which a person could drown, including a bathtub; being around guns, flames or heights; and operating heavy machinery. Also, driving a vehicle is against the law in Kentucky for 90 days following a seizure.

For more information about seizures, the causes and treatment options, read 4 Facts You Should Know About Epilepsy.

If you or a loved one experiences seizures or has been diagnosed with epilepsy and needs medical care, schedule an appointment with Dr. Martz or one of the specialists with Norton Neurology Services by calling (502) 394-6460.


(502) 629-1234

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