Safety

Overview

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.

Consider getting a medic alert bracelet for your child. This is a good way of providing first-aid responders with medical background when you are not there.

Activities with associated risk

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.

Bike riding

  • 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.

Around the home

  • In general it is important that your child can not lock themselves into certain rooms (e.g. the bathroom or toilet) 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).

Driving

  • If a young person who is already licensed to drive experiences a seizure, they must stop driving and seek medical advice. The AUSTROADS "Assessing Fitness to Drive" document details the legal requirements in relation to driving and seizure and can be accessed by clicking here.

Other

The following activities also carry extra risks for people who experience seizures and should be discussed with the treating doctor:

  • Use of heavy machinery and/or power tools 
  • Activities at height (e.g. building jobs at height, outdoor rock climbing/abseiling)
  • Activities at pace (e.g. skiing, track racing)

CPR courses

Undertaking a Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) course is recommended. It can save lives.

    CPR training

    St John NSW:

    • Caring for Kids training
    • Call 1300 360 455

    Red Cross:  

    • Provide CPR (4hours), Education and Care First Aid (8 hours)
    • Phone Number 1300 367 428 or 1800 733 276

    CPR Kids

    • First Aid for families in your own home (Sydney area)
    • Baby and child specific first-aid and CPR (3 hours 30 mins)
    • Call 1300 543 727

    Kids Health - online course