How to reduce trips and falls
Trips and falls account for a large amount of injuries in the home. By following simple guidelines, you can help to reduce the risk to you and your family.
Common causes of trips and falls
Falls are often caused by:
- environmental hazards like poorly organised and cluttered walkways and stairs, inadequate or unsuitable lighting
- moving or handling a load incorrectly
- rushing around
- physical ability, lack of mobility or lack of balance
- poor eyesight, inappropriate glasses
- physical and medical conditions that make people more likely to fall such as having low blood pressure
- medication that can lead to dizziness – older people on four or more different types of medication have an increased risk of falling
Look out for environmental hazards
Trip and slip hazards can be a problem in all homes, especially in houses with exposed wooden floors, loose carpets and rugs.
You should look out for:
- spills and splashes of liquids and solids
- wet floors
- changing from a wet to a dry surface
- dusty floors
Removing clutter or obstructions on floors and stairs, like loose mats or trailing cables, can help reduce the risk of a fall.
Be aware of:
- changes in surface level or sloping surfaces
- holes and cracks
- unsuitable floor surfaces or coverings – for example loose or worn flooring
Bad weather, which can make surfaces slippery, and unsuitable footwear can also increase the risk of a fall.
Five steps to avoiding hazards
There are five recommended risk assessment steps for keeping slips and trips to a minimum:
- look around for anything that may cause an accident
- decide who is most at risk
- take preventative measures
- keep a record of what you have changed
- continually check your living space – keep a note of all potential hazards
Keep active to reduce the risk of trips and falls
You can help your general well-being and help to reduce the risk of trips and falls by keeping active and healthy.
A good way to make your muscles stronger and to improve your balance is to take regular exercise. Exercise is important for older people, who are more vulnerable to trip hazards in the home.
You don't have to go to the gym to stay active. Simple tasks like gardening, regular house work and walking can boost energy levels and improve coordination and balance. Strength and balance exercises done on a regular basis are one of the best ways to help keep active in later life and reduce the risk of falls. You can look out for local strength and balance classes in your area.
Older people - getting help and advice
Make sure you carry out a risk assessment of all the rooms in your home. For example, do you have hand rails for your bath or is the kitchen free of clutter and well lit?
Contact your local council for information on how to arrange a free Home Safety Check.
Children are prone to trips and falls and you should always do a safety inspection of potential play areas, both at home and when you are out. Serious falls can take place on stairs and from windows and balconies.