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    Safety

    Risk is part of life for everyone, whether they have epilepsy or not. However, when you have epilepsy it can be important to take additional safety precautions. You might do this without realising for example: planning your travel arrangements, telling people where you are going, carrying medical ID or telling people about your epilepsy.

     

    What affects your risk

    How people consider risk varies and everyone’s experience of epilepsy is very different.

    How risky something is may depend on:

    Fast facts

    1

    The highest risks involve water, heights, traffic and sources of heat

    2

    If your seizures are controlled, your safety may not be affected by your epilepsy

    3

    If an organisation or service requires a risk assessment this should be done with you, not for you

    4

    If you always get a warning, or if your seizures are always in your sleep, daytime activities might not carry any additional risk

    Top tips

    Keeping safe at home

    Here are some safety ideas for at home:

    Bathroom with bath and shower

    Shower

    The risk of drowning is lower than when using a shower, rather than a bath

    Taps

    Bath taps and shower fittings that sit close to the wall, have a lower risk of banging against them. Or cover them with padded material like a thick towel

    Bath

    Keep the water shallow, but this doesn’t remove the risk entirely. You could ask someone to sit outside the bathroom

    Bath #2

    Reduce the risk of scalding and drowning by running the cold tap first, and turning the taps off before you get in

    Door

    A bathroom door that opens out rather than in is safer. Then if you have a seizure behind the door, it’s much easier to get to you. Keep the door unlocked and tell someone if you’re taking a bath

    Tap or click the markers

    “Sometimes I really want to have a bath so I ask my mum or sister to sit outside the bathroom and talk to me.”

    Kitchen with microwave, oven and door

    Door

    If you wander during your seizures, keep external doors locked

    Door

    Don’t keep your door key in the lock. If someone else has a key, it might stop them being able to get in

    Cooker

    Put saucepans at the back of the hob and turn handles away from the edge, so they don’t get knocked over

    Microwave

    It’s safer to use a microwave rather than other types of cooker

    Tap or click the markers

    “On a good day I batch cook meals and put them in the freezer. Then on a bad day when I don’t want to risk boiling rice or pasta, I’ve got something yummy to eat that just needs heating in the microwave.”

    Bedroom with bed and radiator

    Sharp corners

    Consider covering up sharp corners on furniture and moving furniture away from the bed

    Bed

    If you have seizures at night, choose a bed that is lower to the floor. Place cushions or a thick rug around the bed

    Heating

    Put fire guards on radiators and fires to avoid burns during a seizure. Don’t put the bed next to the radiator

    Pillows

    Safety pillows have small holes. They may help you breathe more easily than a normal pillow if you are lying face down when having a seizure

    Tap or click the markers

    “There are cushions dotted around the house so if I have a seizure, my housemates don’t have to go off searching for something to put under my head.”

    Living room with window, sofa and trailing cable

    Windows

    Toughened safety glass, double glazing or safety film make windows safer. Window locks or restrictors are a good idea

    Lamps

    Avoid using halogen bulbs in lamps as they reach high temperatures and could cause burns or fires. LED bulbs are safer

    Cables

    Avoid trailing cables

    Floor

    Avoid hard floor surfaces or synthetic carpets that can cause friction burns

    Tap or click the markers

    “When I moved into my first house-share, the lounge had wooden floorboards. My dad bought me a big fluffy rug for the floor as a housewarming present.”

    Alarms and monitors

    Some people use alarms or monitors to alert other people to seizures. Whether they are useful for you will depend on a what happens to you during a seizure and if you have someone around to reliably respond and help you.

    Click or tap the pictures below to find out more

    • Wrist worn sensors

      Some sensors detect changes in heart rate, others detect movement so work best for certain types of seizure

    • Bed monitors or alarms

      These can detect different types of seizures. They monitor different things: movement, leaving the bed, vomiting, incontinence or sound. They work by sending an alert to a pager or a telecare service

    • Video monitors

      These are designed to detect any unusual movements and are connected to a device such as a smartphone or tablet to sound an alarm

    • GPS trackers

      These allow people to find out where you are, using GPS technology. There are lots of apps that track a phones location

    I have a watch that sends an alert to a pager if I have a seizure. My husband carries the pager so he doesn’t always have to have his phone with him.  I also have bed alarm.”

    My mum wanted me to put a tracker on my phone. I call it the stalker app. It’s made her feel better, so I’m alright with having it.”

    I work on my own quite a bit. My company gave me a tracker. If they get alerted assistance will come out straight away or will call 999 if needed.”

    Medical ID

    There’s different types of medical ID available.

     

    Medical ID jewellery

    Medical jewellery usually has an internationally recognised medical symbol. It tells medical staff you have a medical condition.

    Medical ID bracelet

    Some types of ID jewellery can be engraved with the information of your choice, while some include space for paper inserts.

    Some ID jewellery companies offer a 24 hour helpline service, for which you pay an annual subscription charge. This allows emergency services to call the number on the jewellery to get further details about you and your epilepsy.

    The Epilepsy Action website has details of different types of medical ID jewellery and stockists.

     

    Medical ID cards
    These can be printed with information about you, your epilepsy and what to do in an emergency. Or they can be ones where you fill in the details yourself.
    Epilepsy Action medical ID cards

    You can get a free epilepsy ID card from Epilepsy Action. The Epilepsy Action website has details of stockists of ID cards printed with your information. Or you can type ‘medical ID card’ into a search engine.

     

     

    Phone apps

    Some smartphones have a feature allowing people to access medical information of your choice from the phone’s lock screen, without having to unlock the phone.
    Man holding smartphone with medical ID appThis allows anyone helping in an emergency to check your medical information.

    For some types of smartphone you may need to download an app. To find one that works on your phone, search for ‘medical ID app’ in your phone’s app store.

    Stories by you

    Anky shares her experience of keeping safe.

    Reducing risks

    Looking at ways of managing risk may help you do the things you enjoy. That way you can be as independent as possible while still keeping safe. Having a plan in place can help you feel comfortable about trying new things or going out. It can also help you to decide if the benefits of doing something outweigh the risks.

    Here are some safety check questions to think about:

    Do something

    Think about something you do or would like to do. Go through the safety check questions above and think about if there is anything you could do to make it safer for you.

    Group of friends walking up a hill

    More info

    There’s more info on the Epilepsy Action website about safety

    More info about safety

    More info about safety aids and equipment on the Epilepsy Action website

    Safety aids and equipment

    The Epilepsy Action website has details of where you may be able to get funding for safety aids and equipment

    Funding for safety aids

    If you have seizures where you drop to the floor you may want to consider wearing a helmet. The Epilepsy Action website has information about helmets and headgear.

    Helmets and headgear
    Updated 12 May 2020
    Review 12 May 2023
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