We all need to consider safety in our lives. In our day to day living, some activities we undertake are more risky than others. Children and adolescents with Epilepsy have potential other risks that must be considered. By being aware of these risks and minimising them, children with Epilepsy can live full and active lives.
The risk of injury to a child with Epilepsy depends upon several factors:
- Type of Seizures: there is increased risk if the seizures cause a loss of consciousness or occur without warning.
- Frequency of Seizures: there is increased risk if there are many seizures per day.
- Seizure Triggers: there are certain activities that can trigger a seizure, such as stress and tiredness.
- Age of child or adolescent.
- Type of Medications being used to control seizures: certain medications, especially at higher doses, can lead to certain side effects such as drowsiness and unsteadiness.
- Type of Activity: always consider the type of activity and the risk posed by having a seizure. Activities such as swimming, surfing, and bike riding are examples.
- Other neurological or health problems.
Safety precautions should be sensible and relevant to the individual child or adolescent. There needs to be an appropriate balance between risk and restriction.
Your Doctor will be able to give you advice, but safety is a responsibility for all.
Children with epilepsy need to especially consider the following activities:
- Swimming: The pool, open ocean, surfing and water skiing all pose potential risks to safety. Swimming in a pool with an adult watching closely is not too risky for most children. However, the adult must be prepared to watch the child at all times, be able to swim and assist in a rescue if needed. These precautions apply to school carnivals and swimming sessions, as well as family and teenage outings. Surfing and swimming in the open ocean is far more dangerous than in the pool. You always need to consider what you would do if the child were to have a seizure.
- Bathroom and toilets: In general it is important that your child can not lock themselves into certain rooms in the house. This is so you can gain easy access if they were to have a seizure. Children and adolescents should have showers rather than baths. Your child is very vulnerable while bathing. Never leave your child unsupervised in the bath. The person supervising should be competent in giving first aid (generally an adult and not another sibling).
- Biking: Wear a helmet when riding a bike. Ride on bike tracks and in parks and not on the road. Main roads, with high car activity, pose the greatest risk.
Consider getting a medic alert bracelet for your child. This is a good way of first aid responders knowing quickly what your child's background history is (especially when you are not there).
Epilepsy Action has very good information on Safety. For detailed information please see:
- Epilepsy Action: Seizure Smart - Safety
This is a thorough checklist which will help you tick off issues around safety once they have been addressed.
- Epilepsy Action: Seizure Smart - Safety Checklist
Undertaking a CPR course is recommended. To access a list of courses available in NSW, Click here:
The Children's Hospital at Westmead has also developed a free online program, ‘CPR Training for Parents,’ to teach the steps involved in Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) for a baby (aged less than 12 months) or a child (aged over one year). The resource can be accessed by clicking here:
The information provided on this page has been written by members of the PENNSW Website Editorial Committee.
This page was first published in March 2012 and last reviewed on October 13th 2014.