How to Help Prevent Slips Trips and Falls
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related visits to the emergency departments in the US. According the National Safety Council, falls account for over 8 million emergency visits each year. Statistically, nearly 65 percent of falls happen at ground level, not from an elevation such as a ladder or step stool. Common causes of slip and trip related falls include walking on wet or icy surfaces; loose rug and mats; objects left in pathways, cords, open bottom drawers, obstructed views, uneven walking surfaces, inadequate lighting and weather hazards.
While each of us is at risk for tripping and slipping, especially during the winter months, emergency visits due to falls are a year round concern. Throughout the year, we find that falls are more common in children less than five years of age and in adults 65 years of age or better. Older individuals are at a higher risk for falls due not only to an increase in age, but because of medication use, cognitive impairment and sensory deficits.
Most slips, trips and falls can be prevented. Here are some tips to help keep your home fall free:
- Remove or securely tack mats and rugs to the floor
- Use slip free mats in showers and bathroom floors
- Install handrails on stairs and in wet areas
- Cover cables that cross walkways
- Remove obstacles in walkways and keep areas free of clutter
- Wipe up spills and sweep debris from floors
- Keep drawers and cabinet doors closed
- Use adequate lighting indoors and outdoors
- Never stand on a chair, table or other surface with wheels
- Wear proper footwear
- Consider weather conditions and time your outdoor travels
- Look for visible tripping hazards before entering a space
- If unstable or on medication, consider using a cane or a walker
Each year in the US, one of every three persons over the age of 65 will experience a fall. While fractures are the most common consequences of falls, those individuals on blood thinners and/or other medications are at an increased risk after a fall for internal or cranial bleeding. If you experience a headache, neurological symptoms, hip or pelvic pain, neck pain or other worrisome symptom it is important for you to seek medical attention immediately.
If you or a loved one has experienced a fall or needs medical attention, our highly trained and well-staffed emergency department, complete with Portneuf Air Rescue, is ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week to handle all your minor and major medical needs.
Dr. Kurtis Holt is a board certified emergency medicine physician and a fellow in the American College of Emergency Medicine. As a trained trauma specialist, he is skilled at diagnosing and treating all types of emergent care conditions caused by illness or accident and a wide variety of major and minor medical conditions.