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How To Avoid Falls At Home

Aug 11, 2008
For years, Gail kept her favorite captain's chair with its comfortable seat cushion beside her kitchen pantry. Not only was it an attractive piece of furniture, it was also perfect to stand on for reaching objects stored high in the pantry.

On a stylistic whim, she replaced the flat cushion with a thicker version. The next time she climbed onto the chair, the surprising thickness of the new cushion caused her to lose her balance and crash to the floor, injuring her shoulder and striking her head.

Falls are the leading cause of preventable deaths in the home. According to the National Safety Council, each year about 12,000 people die from falls in their homes. Anyone is susceptible to a fall. However, with forethought, most falls can be prevented.

On The Stairs

Stairs and steps account for over 40 percent of all fatal falls in the home.

* Maintain treads, risers and carpeting in mint condition. Be sure carpeting won't move or slide.

* Keep stairs clear of obstructions, always. Never use them as a temporary shelf.

* Keep stairwells well lighted.

* Place a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs.

* Install sturdy handrails on all stairways, regardless of length or frequency of use. One rail is a necessity, but one on each side is ideal.

* Always use the handrail when you are walking the steps.

* Do not carry bundles that can obstruct your vision. Make two or three trips if necessary. Use a laundry bag to carry laundry.

* Teach children the safety procedures to follow when using the stairs.

* Install safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs when small children are in the house.

* Never use throw rugs near stairs. Tape or tack them to the floor wherever they are used.

* For those with impaired vision, mark the length of each step with bright or glow-in-the-dark tape, especially the bottom step.

Avoiding Bedroom Nightmares

* Tidy the bedroom before going to sleep. Clear a path between the bed and the bathroom or doorway.

* Do not bound from bed the instant you wake up. Sit on the edge of the bed to get your bearings and your balance.

* Keep a flashlight by your bed, and a lamp if possible.

* Keep all dresser drawers closed when they are not in use.

* Have a phone next to the bed.

All Around The House

* Never stand on a chair or box. Buy a sturdy stool or safety ladder.

* Move cautiously. Don't rush through the house to answer a telephone or door bell.

* Arrange furniture so that walkways are as wide as possible.

* Secure loose wires and cords, preferably around the edge of the room.

* Immediately pick up toys and clutter, and wipe up spills. It takes only a second for a serious incident to happen.

* Make porches and balconies off limits to young children, and use safety gates. Make the openings small so a young child cannot fall through. Never trust a railing to support your entire body weight.

* Watch out for pets in your path.

* Move chairs and furniture away from windows where young children might use them to reach a window. Windows in rooms used by small children should have fire-safe guards.

* Be extra careful with bifocals. Looking through the reading portion can distort your depth perception.

* Around the house, avoid wearing high heels, clogs and slippers with open heels. Walking in socks or stockings is risky, too. Wear shoes and slippers with nonskid soles.

* Use nonskid wax on bare floors.

* Make sure all areas are well lighted, including outside areas where you walk at night.

* If you fall: try to relax; let your arms and legs give like a spring to absorb the impact of the fall; and roll with the direction of the fall.
About the Author
John Myre is the author of the award-winning book, Live Safely in a Dangerous World, and the publisher of the Safety Times Reproducible Articles..
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