Falls are among the most common injuries we treat at the Parkview Trauma Centers. They are responsible for more than 41 percent of the injuries we saw in 2014. That’s why we developed an awareness campaign called Know Falls.
Falls are most common in the elderly population, with one in three older adults falling each year (Falls Among Older Adults: An Overview, 2014). Falls are also attributed as the causes of injuries for 2.8 million children, up to age 19, each year (Falls: The Reality, 2014).
Fall prevention for adults
The first step in avoiding falls is being aware that your physical condition, footwear and potential hazards in your surroundings can all be factors that contribute to falls. Here are some safety tips to help you address those possible issues so you, and the people you love, can avoid falls.
1. Arrange time to see the physician
- Prepare a list of your medications for your physician to review. Medications can cause dizziness or affect perception.
- If you’ve fallen before, explain to the physician the details of your fall, including when, where and the cause.
- Be aware that certain eye and ear disorders create dizziness, which increases your risk of falling.
2. Stay active
- With your doctor’s approval, consider activities such as aquatics, walking or Tai Chi to build strength and balance.
- Reduce your stress with Tai Chi exercises that involve calming movements.
- By avoiding physical activity that includes walking or exercising, you may increase your risk of an injury from a fall.
3. Choose proper footwear
- Have your feet measured every time you buy shoes, because the size of your feet changes over time.
- Buy sturdy shoes with nonskid soles.
- Purchase lace-up shoes for walking, instead of thick-soled shoes, slip-ons or flip-flops, all of which increase your risk of tripping.
4. Avoid home hazards
- Clear walkways in high-traffic areas.
- Secure loose rugs with double-sided tape or a slip-resistant backing. In the tub and shower, use a nonslip mat.
- Clean liquid spills immediately.
5. Light up your home
- Place nightlights in your bedroom, bathroom and hallways for better visibility.
- Place a lamp within reach of your bed for middle-of-the-night needs.
- Keep flashlights in easy-to-find locations in case of a power outage or an emergency.
6. Use assistive devices
- Use handrails when walking up or down stairs.
- Install a raised toilet seat, or add armrests for the toilet.
- Purchase grab bars and/or a chair for the shower or tub.
- Use a cane or walker if recommended by your doctor.
Fall prevention for children
Prevention is the first step in avoiding falls - from non-slip footwear to baby gates. Here are some tips to help you with your little ones.
- Keep children away from windows. Install window guards and stops. Open windows from the top and close after each use.
- Secure children when seated.
- Help babies learn to stand and walk safely.
- Protect your child's head.
- Be mindful of stairs.
- Use anti-slip rugs.
- Keep hallways and stairs well-lit and clear of clutter.
- Properly mount and secure appliances and furniture.