First aid for seizures

Seizure first aid is about what you can do if you see someone having a seizure. Find out about different seizure types and how you can help keep someone safe by following some simple steps.

A man being put into the recovery position

Key points

  • Knowing what to do when someone has a seizure can help you feel prepared and less likely to panic when you see one
  • When someone is having a seizure it’s important to stay with them until the seizure is over and they are fully recovered
  • Look for an epilepsy identity card or identity jewellery – it may give you information about their seizures and what to do
  • Most people with epilepsy don’t need an ambulance when they have a seizure
  • Some people are prescribed emergency medicine to stop seizures that last too long
  • Not everyone has just one type of seizure. For some people, it may start as one type and move on to another
Unconscious Young Man Lying On Floor

Tonic-clonic seizures

Tonic-clonic seizures are the type of seizure most people recognise. Someone having a tonic-clonic seizure goes stiff, loses consciousness, falls to the floor and begins to jerk or convulse.

Focal seizures

Someone having a focal seizure may not be aware of their surroundings or what they are doing.

They may have unusual movements and behaviour such as plucking at their clothes, smacking their lips, swallowing repeatedly or wandering around.

Find out how you can help if you see someone having a focal seizure.

Concerned senior woman looking out of a window

Status epilepticus

Status epilepticus is when a seizure lasts a long time or when you have one seizure after another without recovering in between. It is a medical emergency.

If you think someone is in status epilepticus you must call an ambulance immediately.

Find out more about status epilepticus
Young girl stops colouring due to having an absence seizure

Other seizure types

First aid is different for each seizure type. Click to find out more about each one and how you can help.

First aid for absence seizures First aid for myoclonic seizuresFirst aid for tonic seizures First aid for atonic seizures

What to do if someone has...

a seizure in water

a seizure in a wheelchair

A man being put into the recovery position

Online first aid training

Do you know what to do if someone has a seizure? Complete this quick e-learning module to find out more.

This information has been produced under the terms of the PIF TICK. The PIF TICK is the UK-wide Quality Mark for Health Information. Please contact if you would like a reference list for this information.
Published: February 2024
Last modified: April 2024
To be reviewed: February 2027
Tracking: AP05.02
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