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Living with Epilepsy: Some Home Safety Tips
This entry was posted on June 28, 2011.
Although medications and treatments can greatly reduce the symptoms of epilepsy, many people living with the condition are still at risk of having unpredictable seizures. Injuries can result when a person loses consciousness during a seizure and falls. Hot objects, water, and hard surfaces are all dangerous to those who could suddenly lose consciousness. Although a person can not control the safety of their environment all the time, it is possible to reduce the risk of injury during a seizure by taking safety precautions at home.
There are a number of ways to improve safety in the kitchen for people with epilepsy. To prevent burns, oven mitts and rear burners of the stove should be used. If it is possible to choose, cook with an electric stove rather than one with an open flame. While cooking, turn the pan handles away from the body to reduce spilling in the case of a fall. The safest way to cook is to use the microwave. To prevent scalding burns from water in the case of lost consciousness, have the plumber install a device to prevent water getting too hot. When possible, use plastic containers and other shatterproof materials.
Adjustments to the bathroom can also improve the safety of someone in danger of having a sudden seizure. Most importantly, do not have a lock on the door or do not use it so that someone can help in the case of lost consciousness. Use a ‘vacant/ occupied’ sign at home to ensure privacy instead of the lock. A shower is much more preferable to a bath because of the risk of drowning in standing water. If the shower is surrounded by glass, it should be shatterproof. It is best to have fixtures that are close to the wall or covered with soft material to reduce risk of injury if one falls. Even safer is to shower while sitting. As with the water in the kitchen, the bathroom plumping should be fixed so that it does not reach scalding temperatures.
A feature that should be taken care of throughout the house is securing cords and wires to reduce the possibility of appliances and objects being knocked over. If heating elements are exposed around the house, try to find a method of safely covering them or moving them out of reach. To reduce the impact of a fall, consider having softer flooring throughout the home. Cushioned vinyl, linoleum, cork, and rubber provide softer landings. Carpets are also a soft option, especially those with a high wool content. Synthetic fibers are more likely to cause friction burns.
A safety precaution that should be taken everywhere is wearing medical ID jewelry, such as a medical ID bracelet, medical id charm or medical ID necklace, that indicates the condition of epilepsy along with medications and other emergency information. Taking all of these precautions will improve safety for someone living with epilepsy.