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Safety Tips to Prevent Falls at Home

Your home may be filled with hazards waiting to trip you up. Use these tips to make your rooms safer.

According to the National Safety Council, injuries from falls send nearly 9 million people to the emergency room each year.

Older adults and children are the most vulnerable. One in three persons over the age of 65 takes a fall each year, and falls are the leading cause of injury and death among seniors. They’re also the leading cause of injury among children 14 and younger.

That’s a lot of slipping and tripping, but simple preventive measures can help reduce the risk of falls in your home.

Clear it out. Anything that’s left on the floor can present a hazard: shoes, newspapers, books—even a footstool that juts out. Pick up things that are in high-traffic areas and never leave items on stairs. Extension cords and cables are common culprits in falls, so locate them safely out of traffic paths.

Light it up. Brighten dark hallways by using lamps and fixtures outfitted with the highest recommended light bulb wattage. Put lamps by beds, and install night-lights to help make movement safer after dark. If your staircases don’t receive enough light, hire an electrician to add another fixture overhead.

Stop the slips. Use nonskid mats, or tack down throw rugs with double-sided tape; toss worn area rugs that present a slipping hazard. In the bath or shower, add nonslip strips or mats. And wipe up floor spills as soon as they happen.

Keep kids safe. If you have young children, fit baby gates at the tops and bottoms of stairs, and use window guards on upper-level windows to prevent falling through screens. And steer clear of baby walkers: The American Academy of Pediatrics says walkers can put children at risk of injury from falls or tip-overs.

Get a grip. Add rails to every stairway, and check them periodically to make sure they’re sound. In the bath, seniors should add grab bars near the shower or tub and next to the toilet.

Watch your step. Wear nonslip shoes rather than padding around barefoot or in socks or slippers. Use only sturdy step stools when accessing items stored overhead. And because pets can be trip hazards too, always keep an eye out for your dog or cat before taking a step.

Get more information on preventing falls from Safe Kids USA, the National Institute on Aging and the National Safety Council.

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