Ten Ways to Prevent Falls – Fall Prevention Week
Accidents happen, but falls are ultimately very preventable. With falls in adults aged 65 and older being the leading cause of head injuries and broken hips and OSHA addressing slip and fall violations year after year in their top 10 list of top violations, it is extremely important to empower yourself and those you care about to be able to continue to live the highest quality of life with proper fall prevention tactics. The Fall Prevention Center for Excellence tells us that to recognize this critical issue, at the state level, SCR 77 (D-Lowenthal) was passed in 2008 declaring the first week of Fall each year as Fall Prevention Awareness Week. This year that falls on September 22-28, 2018. This week is a great time to identify best practices in fall prevention and to help communities offer fall prevention programs to those who are at risk of falling. At Jessup, our team has created a list of 10 ways you can take action to prevent falls at home, work, outside, and through your health.
At Home: Your home reflects your personality, making it a comfortable place to relax. However, your decor might also be making it a likely place to fall. Making a few simple changes to your home can help prevent slips, trips, and falls. These changes include clearing walkways, removing hazards, and adding anti-slip tapes. Here are our top three areas to review at home to prevent falls.
- Bathrooms. Did you know bathrooms are the number one danger zone when it comes to slipping and falling? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that about 235,000 people older than 15 visit emergency rooms each year because of bathroom-related injuries. Several easy ways to make your bathroom a safer place include:
- Incorporating the use of non-slip tape or adhesive products, such as a non-slip bath mat or shower adhesive.
- Installing a grab bar in the bathtub since water is inevitably going to be there.
- Check bath rugs to ensure grip tape is placed under all of them to avoid slips and falls.
- Consider using a nightlight or glow tape for late night bathroom usage.
- Kitchens. Whether you enjoy cooking regularly or not, the kitchen is important to pay attention to because you generally spend a good amount of time here throughout the day. Some quick tips for making your kitchen a safer place and preventing unnecessary falls include:
- Keep it clean. I know it sounds too simple, but tidying up after a meal can make a huge difference. Falling commonly happens due to unseen grease splatters from the stove or spilled water on the floor.
- Keep favorite items down low. Climbing to reach top cabinets can pose a great falling risk, so if you by moving frequently used items to lower storage areas you will easily help prevent falls. Purchase a non-slip step stool to keep handy if you must use the upper cabinets regularly.
- Apply non-slip adhesives. Implementing the proper use of non-slip adhesive products within the kitchen, such as non-slip mats and grip tape will allow functionality, but still keep the design aesthetic in place. Some of the most common areas to use non-slip adhesives are around the kitchen sink, refrigerator, and stove/oven areas where liquid is often present.
- Living spaces. When it comes to areas like the television room, bedroom and garage, several items should be considered. Removing or moving excess furniture or garage tools such as lawn mowers and sitting chairs, installing additional lighting or photoluminescent tape (especially leading a pathway to the bathroom or garage to house entry), keeping readily used items handy (remote controls, phone, garage door opener), and fixing any uneven surfaces or ensuring those surfaces have a non-slip tape applied to them, can be simple and inexpensive ways to easily avoid a costly slip and fall accident. Also, if you are installing the use of wheelchair ramps to and from the garage or the entry, it is recommended to add a non-skid grit tape. These are generally areas that experience a lot of use and traffic, so being able to ensure they are safe will keep yourself and those who care about you resting easier.
- Don’t walk and talk. On your phone that is! One study, published in the Journal of Safety Research, found that over a 10-year period, distracted walking was responsible for more than 10,000 serious injuries. Avoid looking at or using your phone while you are moving around the office.
- Keep a clear line of sight. This is especially true in the workplace since people maybe bustling around. Turning corners like the blind corner of cubicle walls can create nasty collisions if people aren’t able to see each other. The National Safety Council suggests installing convex mirrors at intersections to help reduce collisions. If workers can see who is coming around the corner, collisions are less likely to occur.
- Utilize non-slip products. From stair treads to non-slip mats, or even non-slip floor signage- anti-slip products can be as stylish or as inconspicuous as you want them to be. They can also be put in just about any area, so consider areas of high traffic or near exterior doors that may track in water. Non-slip stair treads are easy to install both indoor and outdoor, providing great slip and fall prevention. Non-slip adhesives or non-skid mats are excellent for restrooms and be sure rugs have skid-proof backs or are tacked to the floor. Lastly, consider having kitty litter or de-icer right by the exit doors during the icy winter months and applying it often.
- Wear proper footwear. From running errands to hiking, make sure shoes fit properly and won’t come off when running or walking around, which is especially true with small children. If you find yourself working outside, be sure to wear shoes made for your work environment and type of work. Wearing rubber-soled shoes will also help ensure you don’t slip and fall.
- Be aware of water. From slipping around the community fountain to falling right off the diving board, accidents may happen, but are less likely if you are aware of your surroundings, especially when they include water. Many bodies of water, like pools, have regulations in place where anti-slip products must be applied to certain areas and warning signs need to be placed where all can see. However, even with those types of precautions in place, a fall may still occur. If you are planning to visit a body of water come prepared with anti-slip shoes, remind children not to run or rough house, and use any handrails in place- they are there for a reason.
Your Health. Many falls can be prevented by simply taking care of ourselves. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but with these couple of tips you can be that much safer in preventing a potential fall.
- Exercise. You don’t have to run marathons, but simply finding a good balance program could go a long way in preventing a fall. Even low-impact exercise greatly helps to increase balance, decreasing your risk for a slip or fall. Consider activities like yoga, lifting weights to encourage muscle strength, and stretching to help build flexibility. Even simply holding the back of a counter, standing on one leg at a time for a minute and closing your eyes (if you feel comfortable) to further help improve balance is helpful. All of these are key to helping prevent falls, especially as we get older.
- Understand your medications side effects. From cold and flu medication to blood pressure medicine, understanding the side effects is important. Both prescription and non-prescription medicine can have side effects that increase the risk of falling. Stopfalls.org states that some side effects to be aware of include: dizziness, drop in blood pressure when standing, lightheadedness, difficulty with balance, loss of concentration, or blurred vision. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned with the side effects listed on your medications or how you are feeling when taking them.
At Work. It is imperative to protect workers from potential slips and falls because they are among the most common causes of serious work-related injuries and deaths. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in the construction industry alone, 991 workers died on the job, with 38.7 percent of those fatalities resulting from falls which was the number one cause of death in that industry. A few simple ways to prevent falls at the workplace include:
Outdoors. We all love to get fresh air, even if it’s simply running a few errands around town or stepping out to grab Starbuck’s. Whatever your definition of outdoors is, it is important to be aware of your surroundings in order to prevent an unnecessary fall. We have a few simple ways for you to enjoy the outdoors and decrease your risk of falling:
Fall prevention begins with you. At the heart of this week’s initiative is the message that falls are preventable. Small actions such as avoiding using your phone when walking, using a nightlight, or cleaning up a box in the hallway can make a big difference in preventing someone from slipping and getting hurt. Choose at least one of the tips mentioned above that you can implement in both home and work to prevent the risk of falling this month and beyond for yourself and those around you.