The stories are endless in how people fall, but for the most part, this type of injury can be prevented with some proactive measures taken to ensure personal safety at home. Review the following suggestions and make sure your home is safe - not only for you, but also for your family members and guests who come to visit.
1. Check the lighting. Poor visibility is the cause of many falls. In fact, studies show that as we age, we need two to three times as much illumination as young adults. Make sure your home is well-lit throughout, including hallways and outside paths. Replace burned out bulbs and have nightlights on in hallways, bathrooms and bedrooms at night to prevent injuries.
2. Make sure your walkways are safe. Check them daily for any items that could obstruct the path and cause a fall. Pick up any debris, including shoes, telephone and lamp cords, and children’s toys, or any other objects that impede the pathway. Make sure your outside path is free from leaves, puddles of standing water, wet snow, or ice. Also, coil all garden hoses and store near the house and away from the entrance. Devices are available at your garden store to hold the hoses safely.
3. Secure all carpeting. If you have throw rugs, make sure they have a rubber mat that adheres to the bottom of the rug and to the floor, so they don’t bunch up or slide. Clean under throw rugs regularly as dirt or sand under the rugs will cause them to slide when walked on. Re-glue vinyl flooring if it is coming loose, and have any loose floor tiles repaired.
4. Make sure all cords are out of sight. Keep lamp cords and other electrical wires and cords behind the furniture so they are not a falling hazard.
5. Wear good support shoes that grip. Slippers, socks, women’s mules or clogs, and sandals, among others, are the common reasons why many people fall at home. If you have sturdy shoes on, your chance of falling is reduced.
6. Add non-slip strips, bathmats, and grab bars in the bathroom. Always sit on the tub and slowly lift your legs in the water to avoid slipping while standing. Make sure your feet are securely grounded on the floor as you get out of the bath or shower, and wipe up water splashes immediately.
7. Use a nonskid stool with a back in the bathtub for moist heat treatments. You might consider a water-resistant and height-adjustable "bath-bench" or chair. This bench lets you sit at a normal height in the bathtub while bathing and is safe for moist heat applications.