After my epilepsy diagnosis, I had to learn how to stay safe in the safest place I knew. Home.
As a stay at home wife with epilepsy, it takes methodical planning and effort to complete average tasks safely that others would consider effortless.
When it comes to staying safe at home, here are just a few tips to implement:
The kitchen contains a number of risks for people with epilepsy. Heat, sharp objects, fire, hard surfaces and other features make the kitchen a potential danger zone.
- Cook on the back burner. You’re less likely to lean forward onto the burner or spill hot foods on yourself
- Purchase fresh vegetables in pre-cut packs and ask butchers to cut meat to your requirements
- Sit down while preparing food
- Use a rubber mat under chopping boards
- Use non breakable dishes, drinkware, and cookware
- Use an oven mitt when cooking
- Try not to cook when you feel tired
Take a careful look at your living spaces and make thoughtful changes to ensure a safe environment during a seizure.
- Consider carpet or soft flooring, instead of a hard surface
- Keep the floor space free of clutter
- Avoid using space heaters that can tip over
- Use protective covers on sharp edges of furniture. When shopping for new furniture, look for rounded corners
- Use chairs with arms to help prevent falling
Stairs can be hard to completely avoid. Many homes and facilities use them.
- Go up the stairs on your hands and feet, and come down the stairs on your bottom
- If you’re in an apartment building without an elevator, ask if you can move to a first-floor unit
- Use padded hand rails
- Use a stair lift or vertical lift
- Take the elevator rather than the escalator
The drowning risk is about 10 times greater in people with epilepsy. The most common site of drowning for people with epilepsy is the bathtub.
- Hang a sign over the doorknob that can be flipped to say “occupied”
- Sing in the shower so people know you’re okay
- Use non-stick strips or mats in the shower
- Sit down when you shower, ideally using a shower chair
- Use protective or padded covers on bathroom handles and taps
- Set the water temperature low so that you won’t be scalded if you lose consciousness
- Use a shower curtain instead of a shower door
- Use tub rails or grab bars
- Try not to use any electrical appliances near water
The bedroom is typically a safe room compared to other rooms of the house. However, there can be some hazards for someone who experiences a seizure unprepared and alone.
- Use a low bed mattress so that you’re closer to the ground if you have a risk of falling out of bed
- Place pads on the floor beside the bed in case you roll out of bed
- Keep furniture or dangerous objects away from your bedside
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach
- Soft pillows can be a suffocation risk, so use a safety pillow instead. Safety pillows have small holes which may help you to breathe if you are face down during and after a seizure.
- Place a monitor in your bedroom so that a person in the house can hear you during a seizure.
- Use a seizure alert or detection device during the night, or sleep periods. These can help in detecting movement during a seizure, breathing changes or a reduced weight on the bed (which may indicate a fall).
Living at home with epilepsy doesn’t have to be scary and is possible but being extra responsible is essential.
What helps you live safely at home? Are there any tips you would add to the lists above?