Stop Slips and Falls in the Home
Falls in and around the home account for a significant number of home accidents and hospital visits. Older folks are particularly susceptible to falls, but they can happen to anyone. With a critical look around the home and the addition of some preventative measures, you can reduce the chances of disaster ‘befalling’ you or the one you love.
1. Install Effective Railings
If you already have handrails along your stairways, ensure they are secure from top to bottom. Also make sure the user can grip them effectively, and replace them if they produce slivers, are too large, or sit too high or too low. Also, remember to include railings for the stairs leading off the deck and other outdoor spaces.
2. Evaluate Stairs
While you’re at it, check the stairs themselves. Make sure the surfaces are even and stable. Replace rickety stairways indoors and outdoors. Evaluate areas where there are only one or two steps as they are often overlooked.
3. Mount Grab Bars
For spaces with only a few steps, grab bars might be an option instead of, or in addition to, handrails. Remember the person might be carrying something while maneuvering the stairs so make sure grab bars and railings are available on both sides of the stairs and cater to whether the person is right-handed or left-handed.
In addition to stairs, place grab handles anywhere there is uneven ground or the potential for falls, such as inside and outside the shower, next to the toilet, and near the bed.
4. Improve Tub and Shower Safety
When water is involved, the chances of slips increases significantly. Improve the safety of tubs with the use of anti-slip mats, decals, or strips. Of course, install those grab bars, but also make use of shower chairs and built-in benches so the user can sit while showering.
5. Pay Attention to Carpets
Carpet is a soft option to consider because if a fall is to occur, it can cushion the impact, resulting in less injury. However, carpets can be problematic for walkers and wheelchairs. If the home is equipped with wood or vinyl flooring, avoid small throw rugs that are a tripping hazard. Use large area rugs but ensure the corners are tacked down for safety.
6. Use Sturdy Step Stools
Falls from ladders and chairs are a common source of injury in the home. When attempting to get something out of reach, use a stable step stool with side railings and a handle at the top. This allows the user to have a handhold at every step. Alternatively, use a grabber for smaller and lighter items, which is a long-handled tool that closes around objects with the squeeze of the hand.
7. Organize and Clean
Perhaps the best method of slip and fall prevention is by providing a clean and organized space. Keep clutter to a minimum, especially on the ground, in hallways, and on stairways.
Organize each space to make the most-used items easily accessible. In the kitchen that means making it easy to reach pots and pans, food, and dishware. In the bathroom, place towels and personal care items within easy reach. Organize closets with the same goal in mind.
8. Install Good Lighting
Dim-lit walking areas are cause for concern. To make the home safer, install sufficient lighting in every room, and especially in walkways between spaces. Motion-sensored or programmable lights offer energy savings, convenience, and safety. Night-lights are another addition to illuminate spaces after dark. Remember to also install motion-sensored and solar lighting along outdoor walkways, parking areas, and porches.
9. Focus on Furniture and Cord Placement
Back inside the home, pay attention to the placement of furniture. Make sure the space isn’t overly crowded, especially if anyone in the home relies on a walker or wheelchair. Place furniture with enough space to move comfortably by leaving a gap between coffee tables and seating as well as plenty of space around tables to pull chairs out and still move around the space.
Cords from lamps, televisions, computers, and other electrical items are another tripping hazard. Run cords along walls and under furniture to keep them out of primary pathways.