Home Safety

While the majority of people with epilepsy live normal lives, things that many of us take for granted around our homes can be hazardous for a person with epilepsy. The importance of safety at home cannot be overstated. The good news – with some caution and simple adaptations, many incidents can be prevented.

The Bathroom

A particular danger for someone with epilepsy is the shower and/or bathtub. Many incidents brought to our attention have involved bathing. When you shower or bathe, please:
  • Leave the bathroom door unlocked.
  • Have someone else in the home with you who can check in on you – frequently!
  • Consider a shower bench (ask your physician for a referral to a home medical supplier) and a hand held shower over a bath.
  • Place a rubber mat on the shower floor.
  • Place padding on the edges of the bath and consider a padded toilet seat.
  • If you are alone, consider a sponge bath.
  • Avoid glass doors on your tub and/or shower.
  • Do not use electrical appliances in the bathroom or near water.
  • Keep your hot water heater turned down enough that hot water will not scald.
  • Turn on the cold water first.
Consider this: people have been known to drown in less than two minutes and in less than two inches of water. Someone entering the clonic phase of a seizure can slip under the water without a sound and drown with little disturbance – even if there are others in the house. A bath or shower can be a wonderful, relaxing, experience, but if you have epilepsy, we urge you to take the necessary precautions in order to protect yourself and your loved ones from the devastation of a preventable accident.
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The Kitchen

Making simple adaptations combined with exercising caution when working in the kitchen helps keep everyone safe. If you are going to use a stove top, be cautious and try to select a model that has controls in the front. Use only the back burners when you can and turn the handles of saucepans to face the back of the stove. Appliances such as kettles that have automatic shut-off features reduce the risk of the kettle boiling dry. Kitchen tools such as automatic egg beaters and electric knives should be avoided as these can cause serious injury if a seizure occurs. Using a microwave oven to cook and prepare food is another safe cooking option.

Here are a few additional ways to increase safety in the kitchen:
  • Consider using plastic dinnerware as opposed to glass.
  • Wear rubber gloves when washing dishes.
  • When loading the dishwasher, point knives and other sharp objects downward.
  • Less climbing to reach household items that are often used will minimize your risk of injury. Be sure to store these items where they can be easily accessed.
  • Try not to carry large amounts of hot food to the table - serve directly from the stove or counter top – and don’t forget to use oven mitts.
  • Limit the time spent cutting and chopping food.
Depending on the type of seizure(s) a person experiences and their frequency, his or her likelihood of potential injury may vary. It is critically important for a person living with epilepsy to be aware of all potential safety hazards and take necessary precautions.

Please remember - if possible, it is always best to have someone else in the home with you while you are cooking. Following the necessary safety measures and guidelines will prevent a serious injury to yourself or someone else.
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TV & Living Room

  • Hanging lamps are recommended over table lamps.
  • Avoid use of breakable objects, such as glass top coffee tables. There are many “soft” styled coffee tables on the market.
  • Use soft furnishings with rounded corners instead of furnishings with hard or sharp edges.
  • Choose chairs with arm rests to help reduce falling.
  • Use carpeting with a thick underlay.
If you are photosensitive, it is also important to:
  • Keep TVs in good repair.
  • Do not sit too close to the television.
  • Watch TV at a 45 degree angle.
  • Keep a light on (above and behind the viewer) to reduce light contrast.
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The Bedroom

  • Use a boxspring and mattress over beds with a hard frame.
  • Attach side lamps to the wall.
  • If there are concerns about nocturnal seizures, remove pillows from the bed while sleeping.
  • A bedroom monitor, including the Emfit Movement Monitor, may alert others in the house if a seizure occurs while sleeping; other devices, such as Philips Lifeline are also available. Some devices include an auto alert feature which can summon assistance if the user is not able to.
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General Household Safety

  • Use appliances with an automatic shut-off.
  • Avoid the use of candles if you are home alone and don't walk around carrying lit candles.
  • If you use a space heater, be sure it can’t tip over and place at a safe distance to ensure it won’t be knocked over if a seizure occurs.
  • Use a safety gate around stairwells to prevent children from falling down stairs.
  • Avoid climbing on ladders, chairs and other objects, especially if you are home alone.
  • Avoid the use of power tools, which can cause serious injury if a seizure occurs.
  • Lock doors when home alone if there is any danger of wandering during a seizure, and to keep children safe.
Assess your home carefully to identify hazards and take steps to avoid or minimize risks in advance. Back to Top