Every year millions of Americans suffer from a preventable fall injury, and over 800,000 of those will end up in the emergency room with a fracture or head injury. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, falls are the most common cause of nonfatal unintentional injuries and are responsible for slightly more than three in 10 injuries overall. Deaths because of a fall have also skyrocketed since 2000, from 13,322 to 34,673. Half of all accidental deaths in the home are caused by a fall.
Surprising Facts About Falls
• Most fall injuries in the home happen at ground level, not from an elevation.
• Falls are also one of the most common causes of fatalities in the workplace.
• The most common victim of a fall is a person over age 65, but other common age groups are women ages 20-30 and children under three. Some researchers suggest that because young women in their child-bearing years more often provide childcare and perform household chores compared to their male partners, they are more susceptible to falls.
• Bunk beds made for children are required to pass federal safety rules, but these requirements don’t apply to institutional beds found in places like college dorms. For college students, it’s up to them and not the school to ensure their beds are safe.
• Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
• Falls account for about 38 percent of worker fatalities in construction accidents.
Safety Starts in the Home
Dark staircase Approximately 3,000 stair-related injuries happen every day in the United States, which averages out to one injury every 30 seconds.
Falls can occur in businesses and at the workplace, but the statistics still show that most falls occur at home. Prevent accidental injuries at home by following these guidelines:
Stairs and Steps
• Have light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs, and provide enough light to see each step and landing.
• Install handrails on stairways and be sure to use them.
• If you have bare-wood steps, put nonslip treads on each step.
• Do not use patterned, dark, or thick carpeting on stairs. Solid colors show the edges of steps more clearly.
• Do not leave objects on the stairs.
• Install grab bars on the bathroom walls near the toilet and along the bathtub or shower if needed.
• Place a slip-resistant rug next to the bathtub for safe exit and entry.
• Use nonskid adhesive textured strips or mats on the bathtub/shower floor.
• Place a lamp and flashlight near your bed.
• Sleep on a bed that is easy to get into and out of.
• Make sure your route from the bedroom to the bathroom is well lit.
• Arrange furniture to create clear pathways between rooms.
• Clear clutter from the floor.
• Install easy-access light switches at entrances to rooms.
• Secure loose area rugs with double-sided tape or slip-resistant backing.
• Keep electric, appliance and telephone cords out of your pathways.
• Repair loose flooring immediately.
• Throw away wobbly chairs, ladders and tables.
• Immediately clean up any liquid, grease or food spilled on the floor.
• Use a step stool with an attached handrail to reach upper cabinets.