Preventing Falls in the Home

According to a recent survey by the Home Safety Council, nearly 5.1 million Americans are injured each year from falls in and around the home. Children under 5 and adults over 65 are at greatest risk of fall-related injuries at home, but according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injury for all age groups except those 15-24.

"Our research confirms that most Americans do not realize that falls are by far the most common cause of unintentional injury within the home," said Home Safety Council President Meri-K Appy.

To keep your employees safe from the risk of a fall at home, the council offers these tips:

  • All stairs and steps should be protected with a secure banister or handrail on each side that extends the full length of the stairs. Make sure stairwells have a bright light at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Make sure all porches, hallway and stairwells are well lit. Use the maximum safe wattage in light fixtures. Maximum wattage is typically posted inside light fixtures.
  • Use nightlights to help light hallways, stairwells and bathrooms during night-time hours.
  • Keep stairs, steps, landing and all floors clear. Reduce clutter and safely tuck away telephone and electrical cords out of walkways.
  • In homes with children, make sure toys and games are not left on steps or landings.
  • When very young children are present, use safety gates at the tops and bottoms of stairs.
  • Use a non-slip mat or install adhesive safety strips or decals in bathtubs and showers. If you use a bath mat on the floor, choose one that has a non-skid bottom.
  • Install grab bars in bath and shower stalls. Do not use towel racks or wall-mounted soap dishes as grab bars they can easily come loose, causing a fall.
  • Keep the floor clean. Promptly clean up grease, water and other spills.
  • If you use throw rugs in your home, place them over a rug-liner or choose rugs with non-skid backs to reduce your chance of slipping.
  • Know that window screens are not strong enough to protect a child from falling out. Install window guards on upper floors, making sure they're designed to open quickly from the inside in case of fire.
  • Always practice constant supervision if children are near an open window, and keep cribs and furniture away from windows.
  • Follow medication dosages closely. Using multiple medications and/or using medications incorrectly may cause dizziness, weakness and other side effects which can lead to a dangerous fall.
  • On a playground, cover areas under and around play equipment with soft materials such as hardwood chips, mulch, shredded rubber, pea gravel and sand. Materials should be 9 to 12 inches deep and extend 6 feet from all sides of play equipment.
  • When climbing on a ladder is necessary, always stand at or below the highest safe standing level. For a stepladder, the safe standing level is the second rung from the top. For an extension ladder, it's the fourth rung from the top.

For more home safety information, visit the Home Safety Council Web site at www.homesafetycouncil.org.

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