Seizure First Aid

Photograph of women on the floor of her home having an epileptic seizure.

The most commonly known seizure is the tonic-clonic seizure, which has the characteristic convulsions. There are several things to keep in mind when aiding someone experiencing a tonic-clonic seizure.

Do’s and Don’ts


DO stay with the person

DO stay with the person. Be calm and reassure them that they will be alright. Time the seizure. If it lasts more than four minutes, or you know or suspect this is the person’s first seizure, or the person injured themselves falling or convulsing, call 911. You can also check to see if the person has a rescue medicine on them – typically a nasal spray. DON’T panic, leave, or try to restrain the person.


DO clear the area of any sharp or hard objects

DO move away any sharp or hard objects the person could bump into while seizing.


DON’T try to hold the person down

DON’T try to hold the person down or place anything in their mouths (it is a myth that people can swallow their tongues during seizures).


DON’T try to perform CPR

DO gently roll the person onto their side to help them breathe, and place something soft and flat like a folded jacket under their head. DON’T try to perform CPR or give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.


DO gently roll the person onto their side

When the seizure has ended, DO stay with the person until they are alert and know where they are and what has happened. Offer reassurance that you will be there until they are alright. Ask questions such as “What is today’s date?” to make sure they are no longer confused. You may check to see whether seizures are a known condition and if they need further medical care.


DON’T immediately leave

DON’T immediately leave or try to give them water or food until they are fully alert. They may seem alright but still be disoriented.

Seizures can be scary, but the most important things you can do are remain calm and make the environment as safe as possible until the person has fully recovered.


Seizure First Aid – Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota (
First Aid for Tonic-Clonic Seizures | Epilepsy Foundation
Seizure First Aid | Epilepsy | CDC