Epilepsy Research UK
1,826 members534 posts

UK Ambulance sirens and strobe flashing lights (?!?!)

Am I the only one who almost dies of a heart attack when an ambulance suddenly and unexpectedly screams out its blaring sirens right in front of me? (I'm only 40 years old, think what it must be like for the elderly, just strolling along the street and that suddenly screeches in your face.. I'm sure there must be statistics of deaths caused by UK ambulances?).

And am I the only epileptic sufferer who is almost thrown into seizures every time an ambulance passes by with its strobe flashing lights?

The police cars and fire engines are different; they're not so dangerously lour, high-pitched or strobe-like.

I think the ambulance sirens and their strobe lights should be made illegal and considered as a health hazard itself. They don't need to have the strobe flashing lights, and the volume is simply alarming and excessive! Or they could at least start off from a low volume to give people warning that its there.

Does anybody agree..?

7 Replies

Yes ! More because I've been in one, twice, in Status Epilepticcus ! It's left me nervous every time I hear those sirens 😱


I have photosensitive epilepsy and agree these can take you by surprise, along with strobes in films and sunlight flickering through trees as you drive past in a car. What incensed me the most though was when I took my son to his first pantomime. We sat down, he was obviously excited etc., the lights went down and then suddenly I was surrounded by strobe lights. These were from some ghastly battery operated windmill things they were selling in the foyer of the theatre. Practically every kid had one, but I only realised when I was trapped in the theatre and they slowly started appearing all around me. Had to leave immediately.

I looked up later and realised that photosensitive epilepsy is quite rare, so to ruin everyone's fun just for an extremely small minority is probably a bit unreasonable. My son goes to the pantomime with mum and I stay at home now.

When this does happen I just close one eye and get myself out of the situation. I've been seizure free since the 1980's. Still always worried about being caught out though.


I have photosensitive epilepsy can relate to everything you say, somethings you can look away from but when your driving you have no choice, I now wear reactorlight glasses to hopefully lessen effect on me xx

1 like

It's good to hear your views on this, and interesting about the photosensitive type of epilepsy, I guess I must have some degree of that. I had just assumed that all epilepsy sufferers were the same in terms of strobe lighting triggering seizures.

The reactor light glasses sound a good idea! I wear polarized sunglasses, is that the same thing..?


Hello Edwin :-) Reactolite lenses are glass or plastic that turns dark in bright light. Polarised lenses are made up of long molecules which tend not to let light bounce around. They remain tinted all the time. I have both types. The reactolite I wear all the time, but only wear the polarised ones like sunglasses---in sunshine or other bright conditions. The polarised lenses are the only ones guaranteed to cut out dazzle from water, road traffic and any other situations creating flashing light. I think these type of lenses were first used by the military during WW1 but I'm not 100% certain of that. Hope that helps.

1 like

Thanks Richard, yes that's good to know. I will look into those reactolite lenses.


Not sure but they maybe but if they help thats good.


You may also like...