Earlier last month, it was Falls Prevention Awareness Week. This week takes place each September, starting on the first day of fall, but fall prevention is important all year long. According to the CDC, every 20 minutes an elderly adult dies from a fall in the United States, with many more injured. Falls are the leading cause of injury and death among individuals over 65. Luckily, falls are something that are preventable. We've come up with various tips and tricks to avoid falls inside and outside of your home.
Clear your walkways of wires and other tripping hazards. It’s no surprise that we often trip over something. Wires, toys, uneven flooring, shoes, the list goes on. To eliminate the chances of tripping over an object, ensure that everything is picked up and out of the way. Wires can be managed by cable ties, and if they have to be run across the floor, you can tape them down so your feet can’t catch the wire underneath. Toys should be placed in a designated area, such as a toy bin or storage cube. Shoes can go on a shoe rack and stay out of the way.
When it comes to uneven flooring, you might not consider the edge of area rugs. To avoid this hazard, you should secure the rug to your flooring with carpet tape. If the carpet in your home is uneven, consider hiring a professional carpet crew to re-stretch and secure your carpet and make it flat once again. Doing this can make areas in your home safer where there might not be a wall or furniture to help keep you upright if you were caught unawares.
It’s no secret that where there’s water, there are slippery floors and a higher chance of falling. Add non-slip bath mats to your bathroom to make a safer transition between your shower and your floor. Showers and tubs are not only dangerous to exit, but also to bathe in. If room allows, add a shower chair and a handheld showerhead to aim water where it’s needed when sitting. If there’s no space, add a non-slip mat to the bottom of your tub for more grip when standing and moving in the shower.
One other tip for avoiding slips in the bathroom is to clean your tub often. Soap scum and lime can build up over time from the runoff of your soaps and shower products. The runoff created coats the tub and quickly becomes a slippery surface. For more stability in the shower, you can add grab bars to help stabilize yourself when entering and exiting the tub. For more bathroom tips and tricks, read THIS BLOG.
When you think of falling, you often think of falling up or down the stairs. To make your staircase safer, ensure that you have two handrails on either side of the stairway. The next thing to do with stairs is to make sure that the stair surface is even and grippy. If you have smooth wooden stairs, consider adding a stair runner or individual stair carpet grips. The extra texture can help prevent slips, especially if you tend to wear socks around your house.
If you can’t reliably get up and down the stairs, invest in a stair chair lift. The lifts are often rated for up to 350 lbs. and can be the difference between a safe trip down the stairs and a trip to the ER. The last thing for stair safety is to avoid carrying anything up and down the stairs that leaves both hands unable to use the railings.
The last thing that you can do to help prevent nasty falls is to take a look at your lighting. If you can’t see where you’re headed, you’re more prone to falling. Install nightlights between your bed and the bathroom if you often get up in the middle of the night. For the outdoors, install motion lighting so you’re never caught unawares in the dark. Make sure that your stairs and hallways are well lit in both the daytime and at night.
Falls are responsible for over 800,000 injuries and 32,000 deaths each year. And it’s important to avoid and prevent situations where falls are likely. Don’t go up ladders without spotters. Hold on to railings when going up or down stairs. Look at where you’re walking to avoid a potential trip hazard, such as wires or slippery surfaces like a water spill.
If you or a loved one needs help identifying and preventing the potential safety hazards in your home, TruBlue offers a Home Safety Assessment. A certified technician will review all the rooms in your home and come up with an extensive list of hazards and solutions to minimize the dangers of the home. This type of maintenance can often let people age-in-place for longer.
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