Keep Your Family Safe from Falls


Falls are a major concern for both older adults and young children. One quarter of older Americans falls each year. Slips and spills are the leading cause of injury in those ages 65 and older. And according to the CDC, falls are also the leading cause of nonfatal injuries for children and youth ages 0 to 19.

“Roughly 75 percent of all of our traumas in the Emergency Room are due to falls,” says Dee Hoffman, M.B.A., B.S.N., director of emergency services at Allegan General Hospital (AGH).

Help keep yourself and your loved ones safe by taking certain safety measures.

Tips for Older Adults

• Assess the home. Check that stairs are well-lit and have two handrails. Tack throw rugs to the floor or make sure they have skid-proof backs. Install grab bars in the bathroom.

• Review medicines. Some medicines can increase the risk for falls by causing dizziness, drowsiness, or dehydration. Encourage your loved one to talk with his or her primary care provider about any medication side effects.

• Keep up on eye health. Poor vision contributes to falls. Take your loved one for a yearly eye exam.

• Get walking help. Trouble with walking? A physical therapist can create an exercise plan to help improve strength, balance, and gait. If necessary, he or she can also recommend a walker or cane
and show your loved one how to use it.

Keeping Kids Safe

• Furniture. Babies who are left unsupervised on beds, changing tables, and even couches can roll off. Never leave babies alone on any furniture. Use all safety straps and features on cribs, high chairs, and changing tables.

• Windows. Windows that are open just 5 inches pose a danger. Don’t rely on window screens to keep children from falling. Remove furniture near windows that children can climb on. Install window guards on all windows.

• Stairs. Don’t allow children to run up and down the stairs. Remove clutter that could be a tripping hazard. Use safety gates to prevent falling.

• Playgrounds. Always supervise children on the playground. Be sure that playground equipment is age-appropriate. Children under age 5 should not play on equipment taller than 4 feet. Equipment for 5- to 12-year-olds should not be taller than 8 feet. Surfaces under playground equipment should be soft enough to absorb falls. Concrete, grass, blacktop, and packed surfaces are unsafe.

• Helmets and sports gear. Make sure children always wear properly-fitted helmets when they are riding bicycles, skateboards, scooters, etc. Helmets and protective sports gear should also be worn during sporting events.

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