Falls are among the leading causes of death from unintentional injuries in the United States. Slips, trips and falls caused the deaths of 36,338 people in 2017, according to the National Safety Council’s most recent edition of Injury Facts, comparing 2016 to 2017 there was a 5% increase in fall deaths (primarily among the older population).
More often, falls result in injuries that are serious but nonfatal. In 2016 over 3 million nonfatal fall injuries among older adults were treated in emergency departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
The National Safety Council has designated June as National Safety Month and is calling attention to the safety issue of slips, trips and falls.
The organization offers these tips for fall-proofing your workplace or home:
- Clean up all spills immediately and stay off freshly mopped or polished floors.
- Tape down electrical and phone cords or keep them out of traffic areas.
- Remove slippery throw rugs or use mats with non-skid coatings.
- Keep frequently used items off the floor and out of walkways and store them in easy-to-reach areas.
- Wear sturdy shoes with slip-resistant soles.
- Arrange furniture to provide clear pathways and always keep drawers and cabinet doors closed.
- Remove items that may be tripping hazards from stairs and walkways and install handrails on both sides of all staircases.
- If you have young children, install gates at the top and bottom of stairs, but remember to unlatch the gates to pass. Don’t climb over them.
- Install adequate lighting both indoors and outdoors.
- Keep exterior walkways clear of debris and equipment.
- Periodically check the condition of walkways and steps and be sure to repair cracks and uneven surfaces as soon as they appear.
- Never stand on a chair, table or pedestal with wheels.
- When using a ladder or scaffolding, be sure to follow all safety instructions and don’t use this equipment outdoors in windy or inclement weather.
In addition, there are a number of measures you can take to protect yourself from falls, no matter where you are:
- Exercise to help reduce falls by improving strength and balance. Walking, weightlifting, tai chi and yoga are all helpful. Stay hydrated while exercising to avoid feeling lightheaded.
- Ask a doctor or pharmacist to review all your medications. Some medicines can make you feel sleepy or lightheaded, which could lead to a fall.
- Schedule regular eye exams. Poor eyesight may increase your chances of falling.
- Pay attention when walking. Distractions, such as checking your email, texting or performing other tasks on a handheld device, may lead to tripping over a step, a crack in the sidewalk or a hole in the ground.
National Safety Month is a good time to correct fall hazards in your home and your workplace so you, your loved ones and your co-workers can stay safe all year long.