Preventing Falling Injuries

Preventing Falling Injuries

We’ve all seen that commercial where the catch phrase, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”, showing elderly people who’ve tumbled down and are in distress.  It’s unfortunately become a cue for comedy, but in reality, falls are the number one killer of home accidents.  The age spread is ironic in that falling injuries affect the very young and very old mostly.  There are several reasons why people are so injured from a fall and we need to look at what precipitates these accidents.

 

Human Error

All falls are the result of human error.  The person wasn’t coordinated, like a baby learning its first steps, or a person who has been under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  The elderly can become disoriented for a number of reasons.  Bad eyesight is another factor and just plain not taking one’s time or looking where one is going is enough to elicit a fall that can be devastating.

 

Objects In The Way

Inside today’s home are objects that can aid in precipitating a fall.  Furniture not in place, slippery floors and rugs, objects left in the general path of where people walk, wires, chords, and clumsy  other humans and pets.  All of these can contribute to a catastrophic fall.

Usually a hoe is designed to prevent these events but no matter if you have a two story home or a one story ranch, there will always be hazards of falling, but there are ways to prevent things thus minimizing the risk of falling.  Here we’ll take a look at some nifty ideas to prevent falls.

Secure  Rugs:  Make sure if you have a throw rug that it is secured to the floor, this prevents ends or sides from become uplifted by a foot thus causing a person to tumble.  There are safe and effective products that do this and it should not be ignored.

Accident Proof Bathrooms:  The bathroom is the number one place where these disastrous falls occur.  The slippery floor of the tub and floor of the bathroom just cry for a fall.  It’s difficult to prevent but not impossible.  Have a mat in the tub that allows for the feet to have secure footing.  The same goes for the floor.  A secured throw rug can be installed and you can easily remove it to clean regularly.

 

 

Secure Stairways:  Stairs are the number one construct inside and outside a home where falls occur.  It’s often due to a person’s clumsiness, but objects left on the stairs, no handrails, loose stair rugs, or just plain slippery stairs often are the culprits in horrific falls.  Add rubber gripping stair coverings and don’t give in to how good something looks.  Safety comes first and these stair coverings are easy to clean and install.

Outside The Home:  Sometimes people fall outside the home.  The walkway to the home should be easy to see and free of clutter and loose rocks, bricks or cobblestones.  During a rain or snowstorm, the path should be cleaned asap.  The stairs leading into the home should be secure and not loose.  No obstructions and clearly visible.  Railings, if any, must be free of debris that could make them unable to securely grasp.  Garden hoses, tools, toys, debris should be off the lawn or anywhere people might walk.  A regular policing of your property will reveal possible hazards.  Outdoor lighting at night is a major mandate.  People can’t go where they can’t see.

Basic Room Maintenance:  Each room of the home is different and offers its own series of potential hazards.  Children’s rooms are the worst as the floor could be hiding small jute foot instability objects lie marbles and jacks and those little painful houses from Monopoly sets.  Messy teenagers are a major menace.  Any number of objects from magazines, product cases, makeup, toys, wires, are all elements of a potential hazardous place to walk.  Teenagers should be trained to clean up after themselves as a mandate for being responsible as a household family members.  The adults aren’t immune to producing fall dangers.  Adults have to watch for spills, dropped tools, their own strength in loosening rugs and other objects.  Homeowners should do regular inspections for loose rails and objects on floors.  Always check up after guests leave to make sure they’ve not left an object on the floors.

Pets: Our four legged friends also pose a constant threat.  People tripping over pets is regular.  Especially with the toy and teapot dogs being bred.  Once on the floor they’re difficult to see and not only that, but when people realize they’re about to step on one, they may over compensate their dodging and end up on the floor in injury.  Pets have toys they leave around and leave spills and messes too.  They can also grab onto one’s foot or leg causing one to misstep and tumble.  Teach your pets how and where they can travel and just like with a 3 year old, teach them to put their toys away.  They’re smart and will understand.

Wear The Right Thing:  One might not think that one’s clothing would have something to do with falls, but they do.  Pants and dresses and bathrobes that cover the feet might get caught underfoot or sleeves might get caught on something thus throwing one off balance.  Shoes, slippers, should be bought with good grip in mind, and walking around in socks on a smooth floor is a no-no.  Bare feet can be a hazard as there is no protection for stepping on a sharp object or slippery surface.  Wearing sunglasses inside to look cool is foolish, and not wearing one’s corrective eye equipment like glasses and contact lenses is just asking for trouble.

 

Overall

Overall, preventing falling is a person’s responsibility.  Taking things for granted is not a good rule or behavior to live by.  With a bit of common sense and good maintenance, one can minimize falling risks and live a safer life.

About Dr Adam Blackwell

Adam Blackwell M.D. Author and Associate Professor of Medicine at NYU.
Dr Adam writes regularly for NBC med.