For Parents

Dealing with Risk

A seizure that ends normally after a minute or two is usually not hazardous to a child who has epilepsy.

However, risks increase when the seizure happens near water, at heights, near traffic, or in any setting in which sudden loss of awareness could be dangerous.

Parents naturally want to protect a child who has this extra level of risk on top of all the other risks that accompany a normal childhood. However, excessive concern about risk may isolate children with epilepsy from others and reduce social interaction. The following information may help you strike a balance.

Water Safety

Water can be a hazard to children with seizures, whether it is in a swimming pool, at the beach, or in the bathtub.


  • Supervise young children closely during tub baths.
  • Have older children take showers, not tub baths.
  • Set water temperature low so a child won't be scalded if consciousness is lost while hot water is running.
  • Hang bathroom doors so they open outwards, and remove locks.
  • Make sure shower and bath drains run quickly and are unobstructed.

Swimming

A child with epilepsy -- or any child -- should never swim alone, or be on a boat or close to water (including backyard wading pools) without a flotation device or life jacket.

  • Carefully supervise children near water.
  • Make sure an adult is present who knows your child has epilepsy and is a good enough swimmer to help if your child has a seizure in the water.
  • Tell lifeguards or swimming instructors at local pools or beaches that your child has seizures.

If a child has a seizure in water, he or she should be checked by a lifeguard or parent. If there is any possibility that water has been swallowed or breathed into the lungs, get a medical check up.

Other Sports

Unless your child's doctor recommends otherwise, sports activities and other exercise are as beneficial to a child with epilepsy as they are to any other child.

In general, school sports activities and gym should be open to all children, including children with seizures. Safety measures such as harnesses, shock absorbing mats and adult supervision should reduce risks.

Coaches and other officials should be aware that a child has seizures, and how the parents want them to be managed.

Wearing safety helmets when riding a bicycle, or for sports where head injury is possible, should reduce risk.