A person could have a seizure any time and at any age. Some seizures are mild, but some can be severe, and the person may need your help until they recover.

Quick help 

  • Call 111 for an ambulance if the seizure does not stop after 5 minutes, or if the person does not wake within 10 minutes, or is not breathing well.
  • See a doctor if it is the person’s first seizure, or if it’s a child after a febrile (feverish) convulsion.
  • If you are uncertain, call Healthline on 0800 611 116.


What to look for

Jerking or twitching: The person’s face or limbs are jerking or twitching.

Foaming at the mouth: The person is blowing saliva through clenched teeth.

Unresponsive: The person has passed out and cannot be woken up.

Loss of bladder control: The person may have wet or soiled themself. 

How you can help

Protect the person from injury 

  • Check for anything nearby that may cause injury, e.g. sharp objects, furniture, and move them if possible.
  • If the person is near a wall or hard furniture that can’t be moved, pad the area with clothes or a pillow.
  • DO NOT move the person, or try to restrain them.  This can make the person more confused and agitated, and cause injury.

Manage the seizure 

  • Stay with the person until the seizure ends.
  • If you’re in a public place, keep bystanders clear, and reassure them that the seizure will end soon.
  • DO NOT put anything in the person’s mouth or try to pad between their teeth. The person’s muscles tighten during a seizure and they may break or swallow the object or damage their mouth or teeth.


Call 111 for an ambulance if the seizure does not stop after 5 minutes, or if the person does not wake up after 10 minutes, or if they are not breathing well.   


After the seizure 

  • As soon as the seizure ends, check their airway and make sure they are breathing normally.
  • If they are breathing normally, roll the person onto their side with their mouth tilted slightly towards the ground and their head tilted back so that their chin is away from their chest. This keeps their airway open and helps them breathe.
  • Cover the person lightly with a coat or blanket.
  • Allow them to sleep until they are fully recovered, but check for a response every few minutes.
  • Check for injuries and apply any necessary first aid. 
  • Reassure the person as they wake up. Tell them they are safe. 
  • Advise the person not to drive. Try to arrange for someone to be with them until they are safely home. 


  • If someone has a seizure, check for a MedicAlert ® pendant or bracelet stating that they suffer from epilepsy.
  • If a person has epilepsy there is no need for medical aid or an ambulance unless the seizure lasts more than 5 minutes.
  • Advise the person to see their doctor to check that any prescribed medication is adequate. 

Febrile (fever) convulsions 

  • These are common in young children and are usually caused by a viral infection.
  • The seizure is caused by a rapid increase in temperature over a short period of time, not just the high temperature of the child.
  • Protect the child from injury and move any dangerous objects out of the way.
  • Cool the child down by removing their clothing down to underwear or nappy.
  • When the convulsion is over, check their airway and make sure they are breathing normally.
  • If they are breathing normally, roll the child onto their side in a supported position.
  • DO NOT give the child anything to drink until they are fully conscious. 


If you have a person in urgent need of medical attention, call 111 now.  


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