Senior citizens, and people of all ages for that matter, worry about slip and fall accidents away from home, but the fact is that about 60 percent of falls happen where these people should be safest. Six out of every 10 falls take place not on slippery city sidewalks but in bathtubs, kitchen floors, and other parts of the home.
Many of those slip and fall accidents could be prevented with a few simple housekeeping upgrades. From eliminating tripping hazards to rearranging the furniture, there are lots of things seniors (and others) can do to make falls less likely and keep the people they love safe at home.
One of the most important things homeowners can do to safeguard their homes and make falls less likely is to check for and remove any tripping hazards. Something as simple as an extension cord stretched across the floor could cause a serious fall, so securing those loose cords by attaching them to the wall or running them behind the furniture is a good place to start.
You can do the same thing with phone cords, run them behind the furniture to keep them away from the flow of traffic. Securing rugs is another smart safety step, since loose throw rugs can create a real slipping hazard. It does not take much work to tape down or otherwise secure those throw rugs, and doing so could prevent a serious accident down the line.
Simply clearing out the clutter can also sharply reduce the risk of falls. Adding a small shelving unit or storage box is a great way to keep stuff off the floor and away from underfoot.
Even the way you arrange the furniture can have an impact on household falls. Furniture that is bunched together too tightly could create a tripping hazard and make it hard to move around the house. Rearranging the furniture to provide plenty of space for walking can reduce the risk of trip-and-fall accidents significantly.
Be sure to remove furniture, clutter, and other potential tripping hazards from around stairs, hallways, and outdoor pathways. Adding nonslip strips to hardwood floors, stairs and anything else that could become slippery is another great way to prevent falls around the house.
Those same nonslip strips can be used to make the bathtub and shower safer and more secure. If you have a senior citizen or infirm relative in your home, adding grab bars and safety railings to the bathtub, shower, and toilet can further reduce the risk of falls.
Wet spots and spills can increase the likelihood of falls even in a clutter-free home, so vigilance and fast cleanup are essential. Clean up spills as soon as possible and use nonskid wax when cleaning and waxing the floors. If immediate cleanup is not possible, at least place a paper towel over the area to warn others that the floor is wet.
Improving the lighting inside your home can also reduce the risk of falls, so take a close look at how entryways, stairs, hallways, and interior walkways are lit. Adding lighting around the stairs, above the front door and other strategic areas makes it easier to spot, and avoid, potential tripping hazards. Be sure to use the highest wattage bulbs each fixture will accommodate —the brighter the lighting the better.
If you live in a multistory home, pay special attention to the safety of your staircase. Check the entire length of the handrail for loose spots, and examine each step for loose tread or sagging boards. Fix any deficiencies immediately, as falls on the stairs could be especially dangerous.
Preventing falls at home is the responsibility of every homeowner. Whether you are caring for an older relative or not, removing tripping hazards, securing rugs, and improving lighting can sharply reduce the risk of household accidents and improve the safety of yourself and your family.