Experts estimate that as many as 6 out of every 10 slip and fall accidents occur in the home. Partly, this is because many of us spend so much time at home. Partly, this high rate of accidents may stem from the fact that we may take our safety at home for granted, and therefore are not as cautious as we might be when out in public. Whatever the underlying reasons for this statistic, though, experts agree that many falls can be prevented with simple changes to the home.
To make your home safer, try these tips:
1) Eliminate or reduce safety hazards. Many of us overlook common household fall hazards, including small furniture, pet bowls, cords, slick floors, rugs, clutter, and other small items. However, all of these can lead to serious personal injury. To make your home safer, make sure that all your walkways in the home are very clear and furniture is sparse enough to allow for easy movement. Secure rugs firmly to the floor to reduce sliding and falling and place no-slip strips on any slippery surfaces – do not forget the inside of your shower or bathtub. If you wax your floors, switch to a non-skid wax and make a contentious effort to wipe up any spills on the floor right away. Outdoors, place salt or sand on any walking surfaces or have someone do this for you.
2) Make lifestyle changes. Wearing sturdy shoes with good traction outdoors is a smart precaution. If you feel a little uncertain on your feet in the snow and ice, especially, a cane or walker can help prevent many falls. If you are taking any medications, speak with your doctor about any side effects — such as muscle weakness — which can contribute to falls.
3) Get good lighting. Ensure that the lighting at entrances, walkways, and inside each room is very good. You run the risk of more slip and fall accidents if you cannot see properly. Lighting on stairways can be especially tricky, which is why having light switches at both the top and bottom of stairs can be useful. Nightlights are useful if you need to use the washroom at night. Keeping flashlights in convenient locations around the house can also help if the electricity goes out suddenly.
4) Install handrails or grab bars in your home. Walkways, stairs, bathtubs, showers, and toilets are all good places for handrails or grab bars. Place them on both sides of walkways or stairs, so that you can securely grab the rail or bar even when one arm is carrying something. Grab bars securely fastened to the walls beside the bathtub, shower, and toilet are also helpful in avoiding accidents.
5) Eliminate the need for stools and ladders as much as possible. Place all the items you need so that you can easily reach them without having to stand on a stool. You may not end up using every cupboard or shelf if you do this, but that is much more practical than suffering a head injury or spinal cord injury as a result of a fall. Inexpensive drawers and shelving can make items easier to reach.