Seizures: learn first aid 

Adult first aid for someone suffering a seizure, including signs and symptoms to look out for and steps to take in an emergency.

What is a seizure?

A seizure can happen when there is a disturbance in the brain's electrical activity. They also may be called convulsions or fits and the most common cause is epilepsy.

Signs and symptoms of a seizure

If someone has suffered a seizure, they may:

  • Have collapsed. Their body may stiffen and they may make sudden jerking movements.
  • Have froth around their mouth.


If someone has epilepsy, you may find some form of identification on the person, such as a card, bracelet or necklace that gives information about their condition. 

First aid steps for seizures

Step 1. Make them safe and prevent injury. Use a blanket or cushion to protect their head. Do not restrain them. 

Restraining them may cause injury to you or them. Let the seizure run its normal course. Remove objects that may injure them while they are having the seizure.

seizures step 1 with text

Step 2. After the seizure, help the person to rest on their side with their head tilted back. 

This will make sure they keep breathing.

seizures step 2 with text

Step 3. Call 999 if necessary.

The person needs urgent medical attention if:

  • it is their first seizure
  • the seizure lasts longer than five minutes
  • they have hurt themselves
  • you are unsure as to the cause of the seizure.

If you can’t call 999, get someone else to do it.

seizures step 3 with text

Watch Derrick's video to learn first aid for seizures

Meet Derrick, a person who has epilepsy, and learn how he manages his seizures using everyday first aid. Skip to 0:47 seconds for the key first aid steps.

Frequently asked questions about seizures first aid

Should I keep their tongue forward or put something in their mouth to stop them biting themselves?

No, do not go anywhere near the person’s mouth or put anything in it. You risk injuring both of you.

Make the area safer for them and prevent injury by removing items that may cause the person harm while you wait for the seizure to finish. 


How do I know if they have epilepsy?

You may find some form of identification on the person, such as a card, bracelet or necklace that gives information about their condition. If you can’t find anything and are unsure if they have previously had seizures, call 999.


Where can I find more information about first aid for seizures?

For more information on how to help someone having a seizure, visit the NHS websiteDuring life-threatening emergencies, call 999, or for non-emergency medical help, call 111.

To test your knowledge about first aid for seizures, try our first aid app quiz.