Cedars-Sinai Blog

What To Do When Someone Has a Seizure

Roughly 1 in 10 people experience a seizure at some point. Know what to do when it happens.

Seizures are fairly common. About 1 in 10 people has experienced a seizure, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If you witness someone having a seizure, here's how you can help.

What to do

  • If the person is not already on the floor, help lower them gently to the floor.
  • Turn the person on their side. This will help keep their airway open so they can breathe.
  • Place something flat and soft, like a folded jacket or blanket, under their head.
  • Loosen ties, collars or anything around the neck.
  • Remove their eyeglasses, if they wear them.
  • Move anything hard or sharp away from the person to prevent injury.
  • Time the seizure. Most last a minute or so. If the seizure lasts five minutes or longer, call 911.
  • Stay calm and speak to the person in a calming tone.
  • Stay with the person until they are fully awake. When the seizure ends, help them sit in a safe place. Explain very simply what happened.
  • Check for injuries after the seizure.
  • Help arrange for transportation, if necessary.
  • Remember as many details as you can about what happened during the seizure and write them down. The person who had the seizure may not remember what happened, and this information may be important to give to their doctor.

What NOT to do

  • Do not place anything in the person's mouth. A person having a seizure will not swallow their tongue.
  • Do not hold the person down or try to stop them from moving.
  • Do not give mouth-to-mouth breaths.
  • Do not offer food or water until the person is fully alert.

Call 911 if

  • The seizure lasts more than five minutes
  • The person is injured during the seizure
  • The person has trouble breathing or walking after the seizure
  • The person never had a seizure before
  • The person is pregnant
  • The person has diabetes, heart disease, or another health condition