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Epilepsy and seizures in water safety

This page has information about epilepsy and seizures in water safety programs. Remember that teachers retain duty of care for their students at all times. As part of this responsibility, school staff must assist water safety instructors-in-charge to understand and monitor student health and wellbeing. Particular attention must be paid to seizures in water environments.

Seizures in the water

Whenever there is a seizure in water, an ambulance must always be called.

You should also call an ambulance if a child has a seizure when swimming if:

  • the child submerges or appears to swallow water
  • intranasal midazolam is administered
  • the seizure management plan or seizure first aid advises to do so
  • the child appears to be distressed or unwell.

If a child experiences  a seizure they should stay out of the water for the rest of the session.

The main problem with students having seizures in the water is that their reflexes (including swallowing) are affected, and are more likely to get water in their lungs.

Safety watch

Students who have any condition that causes a loss of consciousness must be observed at all times by a responsible adult. This person on safety watch must provide active supervision of the student with epilepsy.

Active supervision means that:

  • adults who are actively supervising must stand on the pool deck at all times to watch the identified student in their designated area
  • if this adult needs to leave the pool deck, another adult must be able to take over their supervision
  • if the student shows warning signs of a seizure, the instructor responsible for the student must be alerted immediately
  • all other staff are to be enlisted to assist with the management of the other students that are now without supervision. 

Adults on active supervision may be asked to sign the safety watch register (PDF 174KB).

Epilepsy management and consent forms

Where a student has a known diagnosed or seizures or epilepsy this must be documented in a seizure management plan (Word 143KB).

Where a student requires administration of intranasal midazolam as an emergency first aid medication this must be documented in an INM medication agreement (Word 151KB)

The parent or guardian must complete a water safety consent form (PDF 81KB) for students participating in swimming and aquatics activities. This form will be shown to school staff, swimming instructors and emergency services personnel responsible for student safety at swimming and aquatics activities.

No student can participate in water safety programs without completing the form.

A copy must be given to the water safety instructor-in-charge. Information provided is confidential and must be stored in a secure place.

Epilepsy and seizures in children and students

Educators play an important role in the lives of children with epilepsy. They must ensure that children with epilepsy have the same opportunities. Educators should be aware of the different ways epilepsy can show, as well as the individual epilepsy care and support plans of any epileptic children in their care.

For more information refer to our seizures and epilepsy page.

First aid flow charts

The seizure management plan that has been developed for the child provides instructions in the event of a seizure.

Standard first aid response is documented in the standard seizure first aid (PDF 120KB) and INM administration first aid flowcharts (PDF 118KB).

Where a student with seizures has a first aid response that is not standard seizure first aid this will be documented in an individual first aid plan (Word 156KB).

The process to manage a seizure incident is documented in the management of a seizure incident flowchart (PDF 192KB).

Note that whenever there is a seizure in water, an ambulance MUST always be called.

Water Safety Team

Phone: 8416 5920
Fax: 8115 5558
Email: Educationswimaquatics [at] sa.gov.au