Falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury, causing almost 9 million emergency department visits annually. Falls can be dangerous to anyone at any age, and your home is the most likely place for a fall to occur. In fact, most broken bones occur from falls at home. Taking a look at the inside of your home and making a few small changes can have a big impact on safety and help you avoid injuries.
Stairs can be a prime place for falls to occur. Don’t leave objects on stairs, and talk to your kids about not leaving toys on stair steps. Use the handrails — if you don’t have them, install them! Don’t wear socks on wooden stairs. Don’t place rugs at the top or bottom of a staircase where they could trip someone or slide and cause a fall.
Choose furniture of a height that is easy for you to get in and out of — for example, don’t choose a chair that is so low that getting out of it makes you unsteady or a bed that is so high that you may fall out of it and hurt yourself. If you have furniture that is wobbly, repair or replace it. You should also repair any loose or wobbly floorboards, railings, or stairs.
Invest in a sturdy household step stool with an attached handrail. This will help you reach high cabinets or closet shelves without being tempted to stand on an unsteady chair or stool. Immediately clean up any spills that happen in your home and keep clear pathways in each room. Keep electrical cords out of high traffic areas, but don’t be tempted to stash them under rugs — this can be a fire hazard.
Falls can be especially devastating for older members of your family. Each year, 1 in 3 adults over age 65 falls, which can cause serious injuries like hip fractures, back injury, or head trauma. Seniors may want to consider installing grab bars or railings in showers and bathtubs and near toilets; placing non-skid materials in shower floors, underneath rugs, and on wooden stairs; and installing nightlights throughout the house.
Some of these tips may sound like common sense, but taking a few minutes to double-check your home or the home of an older family member can make all the difference in injury prevention.