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Summer Safety and Epilepsy

Summer Safety and Epilepsy

Summer is here and, while the temperature this year has been slow to climb and the environment from the COVID-19 pandemic means that summer looks a little different, being safe while enjoying summer activities is a priority for everyone, including people living with epilepsy.

However, being safe this summer doesn’t have to mean missing out on summer fun! Read on to learn about some of the health and safety issues that people living with epilepsy may face in the summer and check out some of our top tips for staying safe this summer while living with epilepsy:

Safety in the Water:

  • Some of the biggest summer activities include activities in the water, however, you should talk to your doctor before planning any water activities
  • Keep in mind that a person can drown if they have a seizure in water
  • People living with epilepsy should never go into the water alone and should always have a swimming partner who is able to help them should they have a seizure in the water
  • Wear a life jacket while doing any water activities and consider having additional floatation devices nearby
  • Make sure someone is around that knows how to swim and can help in the event of an emergency
  • If possible, swim in areas that are supervised by lifeguards and let the lifeguard know before you go into the water  that you have epilepsy and also tell them what they should do if you have a seizure
  • If you will be doing water activities in an open body of water (such as an ocean), keep in mind that it is different than being in a pool due to currents, tides, sudden changes in water depth, colder water, etc. and it is important to be aware of your surroundings and stay cautious
  • If you plan on spending a lot of time in the water this summer, you and your family and friends may want to learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

Stay Hydrated:

  • Summer brings warmer weather and higher temperatures which can be enjoyable, however some people living with epilepsy may be sensitive to heat and dehydration may increase the risk for seizures, so it is important to stay hydrated
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day
  • Be aware of how much you sweat and increase your water intake accordingly
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they increase risk for dehydration

Be Sun Smart:

  • Summer brings warmer weather and higher temperatures which can be enjoyable, however some people living with epilepsy may be sensitive to heat and overheating may increase the risk for seizures, so it is important to be sun smart
  • Be sun smart to ensure your optimal health, both short term and long term
  • Wear sunscreen if you will be exposed to the sun, even for a little bit
  • Don’t forget your sunglasses to protect your eyes from UV damage
  • Minimize your exposure to the sun and heat by:
    • Planning activities for the early morning or the evening to avoid the hottest temperatures generally seen in the middle of the day
    • Dressing in lightweight and light-coloured clothing
    • Wearing a hat
    • Going to a shaded area to rest and cool down if you feel dizzy/lightheaded
    • Going to places that have air conditioning, such as malls, community centres, libraries, etc.

Outdoor Activities:

  • Summer is often a time for outdoor activities however, you should talk to your doctor to determine which outdoor activities you can partake in
  • Be sure to wear the required safety equipment for whatever outdoor activity you are doing
  • You may choose to wear a medical ID bracelet so that the people around you are aware that you have epilepsy
  • You may also choose to create a wallet card that explains that you have epilepsy, what to do if you have a seizure and contains other pertinent information, such as your emergency contacts, your medication list and doses, etc.

Theme Parks:

  • Summer can be a time to go to theme parks however, you should talk to your doctor or nurse before planning on going to a theme park
  • When you arrive at the theme park, locate the first aid station and familiarize yourself with the staff there in case you have a seizure while at the theme park
  • Read all signs going on any ride and ensure that the ride is safe for you to partake in
    • For example, if you have photosensitive epilepsy, try to avoid rides with flashing lights or strobe lighting
  • Take frequent breaks and stay well-fed and hydrated throughout the day
  • You may choose to wear a medical ID bracelet so that the people around you are aware that you have epilepsy
  • You may also choose to create a wallet card that explains that you have epilepsy, what to do if you have a seizure and contains other pertinent information, such as your emergency contacts, your medication list and doses, etc.

Keep Others Informed:

  • If you’re heading out to partake in some summer activities, be sure to employ the buddy system and never go out alone
  • Always ensure you are letting someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back
  • You can try using tracking apps such as the “Find my iPhone” or “Find Friends” feature on an iPhone to allow someone to be able to find you if you require assistance

Take Care of Yourself:

  • Summer activities can bring a change from regular routine and it can be easy to forget the basics of taking care of your epilepsy
  • Create reminders on your phone for times to take your medication
  • Try to keep a regular sleep routine
  • These small things can make a big difference to help reduce the chance for seizures

Additionally, some other safety considerations to keep in mind this summer is, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, be sure to maintain physical distancing by keeping at least 2 meters (6 feet) apart from others at all times and practice good hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You may also choose to take hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes with you on your summertime activities to use on the go, if needed.

We hope that everyone has a fun and safe summer this year!

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