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Seizure Guidelines for the Classroom

A seizure may occur in your classroom

Medical management of a seizure disorder is not always totally effective. Students who have disclosed medical conditions are encouraged to communicate with their instructors about what to expect, and what they want to have happen in the event of a medical episode. Most staff and faculty are not medical personnel, so in the event of a medical episode such as a seizure, always do what is best for the student, and do not hesitate to call Public Safety (6911 when on campus) or 911 if you are concerned.

Follow this link (First Aid for Seizures) for a guide from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC instructions to follow during a seizure are also outlined below.

Please contact Public Safety and/or Services for Students with Disabilities if you have any disability-related questions about how to respond to an emergency in the classroom.

What you should know

A seizure is a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain that usually affects how a person feels or acts for a short time. Some seizures can hardly be noticed, while others are totally disabling.

Students may be aware when a seizure with convulsions is coming on. Seizures may last from 1 to 3 minutes, and consciousness returns slowly. Students may be drowsy, confused, agitated, or depressed when it’s over.

Some students have seizures that are difficult to notice. They may “blank out” anywhere from a few seconds to 20 seconds at a time. During the seizure, the students won’t be able to hear you, may blink repetitively, make chewing movements, or just stare. They may be completely alert following this kind of seizure.

What to do before a seizure:

  • Listen carefully to the information that the student shares.
  • Identify a place where the student could rest after a seizure, if one occurs.
  • If you and the student choose to notify the class in advance, inform them that someone in the class may have a seizure, without identifying the student.

What to do during and after a seizure

(Retrieved from CDC First Aid for Seizures, January 20, 2014)

During a Seizure:

  • Keep calm and reassure others who may be nearby.
  • Prevent injury by clearing the area around the person of anything hard or sharp.
  • Ease the person to the floor and put something soft and flat, like a folded jacket, under their head.
  • Remove eyeglasses and loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult.
  • Time the seizure with your watch. If the seizure continues for longer than five minutes without signs of slowing down, or if a person has trouble breathing afterwards, appears to be injured, in pain, or recovery is unusual in some way, call Public Safety (6911) or 911.
  • Do not hold the person down or try to stop his movements.
  • Contrary to popular belief, it is not true that a person having a seizure can swallow his tongue. Do not put anything in the person’s mouth. Efforts to hold the tongue down can injure the teeth or jaw.
  • Turn the person gently onto one side. This will help keep the airway clear.
  • Don’t attempt artificial respiration except in the unlikely event that a person does not start breathing again after the seizure has stopped.
  • Stay with the person until the seizure ends naturally and he is fully awake.

A seizure with blank staring, loss of awareness, and/or involuntary facial movements:

  • Stay calm and speak reassuringly.
  • Guide him away from dangers.
  • Block access to hazards, but don’t restrain the person.
  • If he is agitated, stay a distance away, but close enough to protect him until full awareness has returned.

After a seizure:

  • Do not offer the person water or food until they are fully alert.
  • Be friendly and reassuring as consciousness returns.
  • Offer to call someone to help the person get home if they seem confused or unable to get home without help.