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Epilepsy and seizures in Swimming and Aquatics

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

Epilepsy 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 care plan documentation advises to do so
  • the child appears to be distressed or unwell.

If a child experiences  a 'tonic clonic' 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 they 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

No student can participate in swimming and aquatics programs without completing the form.

A copy must be given to the 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.

First aid flow charts

These flow charts give advice about the kind of help necessary in an emergency situation. Note that whenever there is a seizure in water, an ambulance must always be called.

Contact

Child Development and Wellbeing

Phone: 8226 0870
Email: DECD.CSW [at] sa.gov.au

Swimming and Aquatics unit

Phone: 8226 1302
Fax: 8115 5558
Email: DECDswimaquatics [at] sa.gov.au