Preventing Slips and Falls at Home
Create a Safe Living Space
We’ve all done it at one time or another. We’ve taken a misstep, tripped over something, slipped on a wet surface, and taken a fall in our home. Although falls are the number one cause of injuries in senior citizens, anyone at any age can be seriously injured if they slip and fall. Falls can result in fractures, bruises, cuts, and even head or brain injuries. Even if a fall doesn’t cause an injury, it can be a frightening experience.
Any number of hazards in the home can result in falls including slippery floors, rickety stairs, electrical cords in the way of foot traffic areas, and slick tub and shower surfaces. Falls commonly happen in the home where you have a false sense of security. For this reason, fall prevention starts with creating a safe living space in your home. Here are some tips to help you make your home safer.
Clean up clutter
Keeping rooms free of excess clutter is one of the easiest ways to prevent falls. A neat and tidy room has fewer tripping hazards and is easier to navigate. Clear away stacks of accumulated items such as newspapers and magazines. Shut open drawers and doors. Hang up clothes, put away shoes, bags, and other gear instead of dropping it on chairs and tables. Tuck uncovered cables away behind furniture. Stash items out of the way with organizers, storage bins, and other space-saving storage units both inside and outdoors. It’s especially important to keep high-traffic areas such as hallways and staircases free from clutter.
Repair or remove tripping hazards
Home fixtures can contribute to slips and falls. Check your home for loose or frayed carpet, slippery area rugs, loose floorboards, or wobbly stair rails. Repair any loose or uneven flooring and rails. Add non-slip treads or rug runners to stairs. Add rug mats under throw rugs to keep them in place, and replace any frayed wall-to-wall-carpeting. So get out your tools, and get to work fixing any problem spots.
Make it non-slip
Reduce your chances of slipping while working at the kitchen sink, in your basement or garage workshop, in the laundry room, or crafting table by adding a non-skid floor mat to these areas. Along with helping keep you from sliding on tile, hardwood, or vinyl floors, they also provide added cushioning to reduce foot fatigue and keep your feet away from cold floor surfaces. In the bath, you can also add mats to the bottom of your tub, install a non-slip shower base, and add bath rugs next to the bathtub, sink, or shower to prevent wet feet from sliding on the tile.
Install safety devices in the bathroom
Bathrooms are full of slippery, wet surfaces and a hotbed for fall hazards. Make it safer by installing grab bars to make it easier to get on and off the toilet and stepping in and out of bathtubs and shower stalls without slipping and injuring yourself. Adding a seat or bench to the shower is also helpful for if you are older or have with limited ability to stand for longer periods of time to prevent losing your balance and falling while showering.
Add a walk-in tub
Many falls happen in the bathroom, usually when you are getting in and out of the bathtub. This is especially a hazard as we get older and stepping over the edge of the tub is more difficult due to arthritis in the leg joints or balance issues. Replacing your existing alcove or freestanding tub with a walk-in bathtub can lessen the problem and allow you to age in place in your home with ease. These tubs have a swing-out door integrated into the side that allows you to easily step in and out without having to lift your legs over the side of the tub, making it safer to still enjoy a bath.
Light up the places you walk
Shed a light on hallways, entries, walkways, and garden paths to ensure you can see where you are going. Falls can result when we can’t adequately see where we are walking. Good lighting in these areas helps us avoid obstacles and walking hazards. Make sure your outdoors spaces are especially well lit by adding flood or spot lights over your garage door, on decks, or in the yard. Pathway lights illuminate walkways and garden paths. Recessed step lights let you see stairs to decks, porches, and entrance doors more clearly when you come in or leave at night.
Above all, keep alert and slow down to prevent falls in your home. Being in a hurry, multi-tasking, and walking or running too fast increases the chances of tripping and falling. Being distracted by our cellphones or carrying items that impede our view can result in you not noticing obstacles in your path. Stay alert, pay attention, and stay safe.