Water Safety for Children with Epilepsy or Seizures
Children and teens with epilepsy or seizures have a greater risk of drowning than other children. The most common place where children and adults with epilepsy drown is in a bathtub. Swimming pools are also places where seizures are likely to lead to drowning. Most drowning events are silent and happen within minutes. Here are some ways to keep your child safe around water.
If they are well controlled with medication, go with the guidelines you have.
If poorly controlled, do not swim or swim only with one to one supervision.
Always check in with the lifeguard on duty, whether you are getting are getting in with your child or not. If you can see warning signs such as an aura, tell the lifeguard.
Always stay with your child when she takes a bath.
When your child is old enough to want to bath alone, she can shower instead of taking baths.
You can start teaching your young child to shower with a handheld sprayer in the bathtub. Make sure the drain is open.
Keep the bathroom door unlocked and open.
If your child falls often during seizures, consider using a tub seat with a safety strap. Put a rubber bath mat on the floor of the shower. A hand-held shower nozzle may work better when using a seat.
Always watch your child closely in all water activities even if a lifeguard is on duty. You know your child best.
Swim with your child or always have your child swim with someone who swims well enough to help if your child has a seizure in the water.
Make a plan if your child has a seizure while swimming. Include steps to assist your child, when to call for help (911), and noting the time of onset. Talk about the plan with the whole family and include planning for pools and open water. Often lifeguards have had no real life experience with seizures and may or may not know what to look for.
Enroll your child in swimming lessons. If seizures are frequent, consider private lessons. Often teachers will leave the rest of the class at the wall and work with one student at a time. If there is a not a lifeguard on the deck, your child may be at risk. Tell the teacher your child has epilepsy or seizures. Give them signs to look for as a warning of an oncoming seizure.
Make sure that your child swims in a pool with a lifeguard. If your child has poorly controlled seizures, tell the lifeguard.
Avoid swimming in open water, like lakes or rivers unless your child is well supervised and wearing a life vest. A life vest provides an important extra measure of safety.
Have your child wear a brightly colored swimsuit and life jacket so she is easier to see.
Be aware of activities that will tend to increase seizure activity for your child, such as dehydration, exhaustion, time of day, etc.. Guard against swimming while these are present.
Always have your child wear a life vest when on a boat, raft, dock or close to water.
Make sure that other adults in the boat wear a life vest as well to serve as role models and be better prepared in an emergency.
Have your child sit down in a boat, not on the edge.
If you can, carry a cellular phone in case of emergency.
Have a plan in place should a seizure occur while boating.
Other Water Safety Tips
Check your home for drowning hazards, such as ponds, pools, cisterns and buckets.
Keep the toilet lid down.
Set the water temperature low so your child won't be scalded.
Make sure shower and bath drains run quickly and are not blocked.
Be on alert when using buckets and never leave them out when they contain fluid.
Have your child wear a life vest when near ponds, lakes, rivers, or the ocean.
Ask your child's nurse or doctor for special tips to keep your child safe around water.
Check whether your child's seizures are under sufficient control to allow swimming.
Check with your doctor or primary provider to be sure your child can use hot tubs. If ok, make sure your child is supervised at all times and the temperature is safe.
If a Seizure Occurs in the Water:
Support your child's head and keep her face out of the water.
Bring her to the shore or side of the pool and place her on her side.
Check her airway. If water has been ingested or breathing is labored, get medical treatment.
***You should always swim with a swim buddy seizure or not. Never swim alone***