Water Safety

Swimming is a wonderful part of summer activities. It can be a safe and enjoyable experience for children and adults with epilepsy if certain precautions are taken. These include:

  • never swim alone
  • do not swim if unusually tired
  • do not swim if medication has been missed
  • swim only with someone who knows their companion has epilepsy and is a strong enough swimmer to come to their aid if a seizure occurs.
  • First aid steps if a seizure does occur in water?
  • Support the person having the seizure so that the head and face stay above the water.
  • Make sure the head is tilted back to keep the airway clear.
  • Keep the person away from the sides of a pool to avoid injury from hitting against them during the seizure.
  • Get the person out of the water as quickly as possible and place them on their side.
  • Check the person’s airway and pulse.
  • Give CPR if necessary
  • Get emergency medical assistance.

ANYONE WHO HAS HAD A SEIZURE IN WATER MAY HAVE INGESTED LARGE QUANTITIES OF FLUID. EVEN IF BREATHING STARTS AGAIN AND THE PERSON SEEMS TO HAVE RECOVERED WATER MAY HAVE BEEN INHALED INTO THE LUNGS.

A medical check-up in all such cases is vital, since this condition can be life-threatening.
• If a seizure happens out of the water during swimming activity, the person should not continue with swimming or water sports that day, even if the person appears to be fully recovered.

EFA “Tips for Living with Seizure Disorders”: Updated April 2002