Learn what could cause you to slip and fall, leading to unwanted injuries or sudden falls. Ever had one of those days when everything was perfect until you suddenly fall?
Meri-K Apy, president of the Home Safety Council, had a day similar to that. “I will admit to you that I fell and I did all the wrong things,” she said of a slip she took six months ago at the airport as she was trying to catch a shuttle bus back to her hotel. It was a tile floor, a little wet, and I did an incredible swan dive in front about 100 people. Appy was not unaware of the irony of the situation. She is president of an organization that educates and advocates for preventative accidents. She was not seriously injured. Appy believes that this is not the point. She could have been very hurt.
Appy recalls the humor of Charlie Chaplin and Dick Van Dyke. A fall can have serious and very real consequences. Many people feel embarrassed when they fall. Instead of looking for signs that they have been injured, they might look around to see if anyone else was there. Appy says that falls can have serious consequences, including death, head trauma, and hip fractures. There are nearly 6,000 falls-related deaths each year, with 5,000 occurring among seniors 65+.
Falls are actually the number one cause of home-injury-related deaths Home-injury-related deaths are the No. 1 cause. Appy says that there are almost 20,000 deaths each year and more than 21,000,000 medical visits due to preventable injuries like falls, fires and choking. Falls are the most common injury. 1. There are so many traps in most homes and out there, including old carpets and rugs, uneven steps, driveways, and roads without banisters. It’s amazing that anyone can make it through the day without falling. We have some tips to help you avoid trips and falling this season.
You can be hurt by what you don’t see
You should always keep your eyes open for problems. If you feel “visually clumsy,” Perry Binder MD recommends that you have an eye exam. Binder, an opthalmologist at the Gordon Binder Weiss Vision Institute, San Diego, recommends that you have your eyes checked every year. Your ability to see can also be affected by weather changes. Binder says that gray days without bright sunlight mean less contrast and people don’t see well in such conditions. The sun sets earlier in winter, so we lose light sooner. Winter months are especially dark so it is important to add lighting to dark passageways or stairwells.
Appy claims that Tai Chi is the only activity that can reduce your chance of falling. Appy claims that it is known for strengthening and balancing our bodies. These goals can be achieved through many activities, so finding one you like is a surefire way of reducing your chances of falling.
Salt is a good choice
Binder states that snow and ice can make it difficult to see, creating a glare. Binder also says that snow can cover cracks and holes, so people should take more “visual attention” to avoid trip over foreign objects. To reduce your chance of falling outside, it is important to properly shovel snow and use ice or wood chips.
Know your Medications
Side effects of medication, such as dizziness, can sometimes occur, which could increase your chance of falling. Appy states that it is important to have your medication records reviewed by a professional, such as your pharmacist or doctor, once a year. It has been proven that multiple medications can lead to falls. You may be able, in some cases, to have your doctor adjust your drug doses if you are experiencing a problem.
Appy recommends you keep track of your medications, especially if it is difficult to remember when or if you have taken them yet. This will reduce the chance of you accidentally increasing your dose, which can lead to unwanted side effects.
Good Footwear Is Key
Good footwear is essential. Appy suggests that you wear rubber-soled shoes with thin soles to feel the ground under your feet. If you want to keep grounded, shoes with thick soles and slippery leather-soled shoes are not the best options.
Be careful with ladders
It is important to take extra precautions during winter months to avoid falling, especially around holidays. People often bring out their old ladders from their basements to hang decorations and/or complete household projects, such as decorating for a holiday party. Consider the high number of ladder-related emergency room visits each year. Be careful about how the ladder is positioned. Avoid leaning too far over your balance.
Clutter Magnets to Be Aware
Entrance halls and staircases are magnets for clutter all year round, but especially during holidays. Keep them clean, especially if you have guests.
Mindfulness goes a long way
When walking, pay attention to where you are going and slow down if visibility is low or there are many hazards. Be careful of your surroundings and keep your hands off the floor. Appy says that prevention is better than cure. She offers the following tips to help you stay safe at home. These tips are particularly helpful for parents.
Throw rugs should be thrown away when possible. Throw rugs, especially those that aren’t flat or attached to the ground, can increase your chance of falling. Throw rugs should be removed or taped down with double-sided tape to prevent your toes from getting stuck underneath them. This will help you avoid a potentially dangerous spillage.
Baby gates. Baby gates are recommended for children under five years old, who are more likely to fall. Baby gates should attach to both the top and bottom walls of your stairwell, according to the Home Safety Council.
Window locks are essential. Window locks are essential, especially in warmer months, as little children can sometimes fall from windows. Window guards should be easy to remove in the event of a fire.
Your children should have a safe place to play on playgrounds. Appy suggests that you have a soft surface underneath play areas that is at minimum 9-12 inches in depth (wood mulch, pea gravel). The soft surfaces should extend at least 6 feet all around so that the fall zone can be covered.
Bathrooms. Make sure to clean slippery surfaces in the bathroom. This is another area that people are most likely to fall. You can also use bathmats in the bathroom. Install grab bars if you do not have grab bars for your tub or shower. The Home Safety Counsel recommends you have bars built into walls that can support human weight. Many people believe that grab bars are only necessary for older people. Anyone who has ever fallen in the shower knows that it can happen at any time. Even young kids can fall,” says Appy. Appy says that older people can suffer more severe consequences.
Given the stigma and shame associated with falling, it can be difficult for loved ones to discuss the topic of falls with them. Installing grab bars or other safety devices might not be necessary for older adults. You can lead by example if you are worried about raising the issue with your loved ones. These devices should be installed first in your home. You can then tell your mom that it’s her turn. Appy suggests that this will make it less stigmatizing.