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BEACHCOMBER: New Year's Resolution About Saving A Life

  • By David Barron

Here’s a resolution that you can all keep. Commit to making your home safe from falls this year. It sounds like a lot work and kind of boring but it can help keep your spouse or family members safe.

Falls are the number one cause of home injury deaths in America, according to the Home Safety Council. Some recent family incidents have convinced me of that.

An average of one in every three visits to the emergency room are because of falls. And we all have family members who have been injured in falls.

Senior citizens are especially likely to suffer from a fall, simply because their balance is not as good as it once was.

But, no matter what your age, it does take much to trip over something on the floor, fall off a ladder or miss a step as you are going down stairs or tripping over a toy

A close relative recently tripped and fell, fracturing the pelvis and breaking an arm. The person suffered painful rehabilitation, but is now back on his feet.

I am slowly working my way around the house. I installed two grab bars in the bath tub, making me much more comfortable when taking a shower.

Next time you go to your doctor’s office, ask them for a pamphlet about reducing falls.

Even young children are at risk from serious falls. They never walk – they run – everywhere they go. A simple fall can result in a serious head trauma.

Meanwhile here are some suggestions I gathered on the internet.

Bathroom Safety

The bathroom contains several potential fall hazards. Slippery surfaces from spills or splashes should be wiped up. Showers or tubs should have non-slip decals or a safety mat on the floor surface. Safety grab bars can be installed in a shower or tub area to hold onto when entering or exiting the tub or for stability when showering. Grab bars also provide extra stability near the bathroom stool.

Risks in the bathroom also include grabbing onto towel bars which can pull out of the wall easily, tripping over a shower curtain that is too long, and slipping on soap or other items that fall onto the floor of the tub surface.

If you have trouble getting into and out of  your tub or shower, consider replacing it with one that has a swinging entry door. It is an investment that will pay off on the long run. One of my friends  uses a handheld shower and a “showering chair,” which makes it easier to bathe, and helps them be independent.
Floor Surfaces and Rugs

Wood, tiled, or vinyl floors can become a fall hazard when wet or when a person is wearing wet shoes and flip flops. Wiping up spills immediately and avoid walking on freshly washed floors help prevent slips and falls. Removing wet footwear also removes the risk of slipping.

Carpet edges and throw rugs can curl up. Using double-sided tape or other material to hold the edges down will prevent tripping. Small rugs can move when stepped on if the floor underneath is slippery. Use non-slip rugs to prevent falls.

Stairs

Inside and outdoor stairs are a common fall hazard in the home. Handrails give stability when climbing or descending a stairway. Slippery surfaces on stairways can be made safer with non-slip strips.

Clutter on the stairs can cause tripping. Carrying too many items and not having a free hand to use the handrail is also a common risky habit. Outdoor stairs should be kept free of mud, and other slippery items, such as loose items, not tp mention tools or kids’ toys or tools like rakes or brooms.

Proper Lighting

Dim lighting and non-working lights cause many falls. Proper lighting can help avoid falls resulting from tripping over clutter or small animal pets in the home.  We always have to be careful and not trip over our dog at night. The big lug weighst 75 lbs. and loves to place himself in doorways and walking paths around the house.  Don’t forget to replace or upgrade lighting in hallways, entryways, and other potentially dim areas of the home.

Ladders and Chairs

Using a chair in place of a step stool can cause falls in the home. A step stool provides gradual stepping up and down, rather than a large and cumbersome step. Use a stool with the safety rubber tips on the legs intact. Hold onto the stepstool's handle when climbing up or down.

Most ladders have instructions pasted on them, read them and follow them, both indoors and out. Use the correct type and size ladder for a particular job. An unstable surface under the ladder, as well as leaning over the side can cause tips and falls.

There is is a lot of information on the internet and also at the library. You can simply Google it. Look under search words such fall hazards and home safety. If you don’t have internet access at home, go to to your local library and use one of their computers. The Centers for Disease Control provides a checklist of home safety areas for residents to review the risks and prevention of falls in their homes. Send me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I’ll mail you a copy of the check list.

So don’t forget, make a new year’s resolution to make your house safe.

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