Falls Prevention Awareness Week is a national health campaign to increase awareness around fall health and injury prevention. Observed from September 18-24 in 2022, it is a time when we all come together to learn about the dangers of falls and how to prevent them. Falls are one of the leading causes of injury and death in adults over 65, but they can happen to anyone at any age.
Preventing Falls at Home
Six out of every ten falls occur at home, where we spend most of our time and frequently walk around without care. You can make many adjustments to your house that will keep you and your family safe and prevent falls.
- For staircases, pathways, and hallways: Ensure the railings are securely fastened and install them on both sides of the staircase. Hold the handrails when using the stairs, whether going up or down. A lengthy hallway should have light switches at each end and at the top and bottom of the stairs to ensure adequate lighting. Keep the spaces you walk around clean. Never leave anything like books, papers, clothing, or shoes on the steps or the floor. (National Institute on Aging)
- In bathrooms: Install grab bars inside and outside your tub and shower and close to the toilet. Put carpet, non-skid strips, or mats on all areas that could become wet. Don’t forget to turn on the night lights.
- In living areas: Keep cords and power cables away from walkways and against walls. All area rugs and carpets should be tightly fastened to the floor. Set up your furniture, including low coffee tables and other items, so they are out of the way as you walk. Never tread on freshly cleaned floors because they are slick. Use a “reach stick” or seek assistance if you need to reach something too high, rather than standing on a chair or table. (National Institute on Aging)
Preventing Falls in Children
For kids ages 0 to 14, falls are the most common reason for injury-related hospitalizations in the US. In 2012, unintentional falls caused over 34,000 hospital admissions for kids aged 0 to 14. Falls are the top cause of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in children between the ages of 0 and 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Protect the Ones You Love campaign. (Children’s Safety Network)
Preventative measures to shield kids from injuries caused by falls include installing window guards and safety gates on stairs to prevent young children from falling, supplying a soft landing area beneath play structures, wearing the appropriate protective gear, such as knee, elbow, and wrist guards and helmets, when engaging in sports, keeping an eye on kids near potential fall hazards and, when possible, removing them. (Children’s Safety Network)
When Falls Are Serious
Falls don’t always result in hospitalization, but a person may find it challenging to move around, carry out daily tasks, or live independently resulting from fall injuries. Falls can be serious and cause repercussions in your life when falls result in broken bones.
Head injuries can occur from falls. These are potentially life-threatening, especially if the patient is taking certain medications (like blood thinners). To make sure they don’t have a brain injury, a person who takes this type of medication and injures their head should visit the ER.
Falls can be serious, but there are many things you can do to prevent them. During the Fall Prevention Awareness Week, take some time to learn about fall prevention and make a commitment to keeping you and your loved ones safe. You’ll be glad you did!
“Fall-Proofing Your Home.” National Institute on Aging, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nia.nih.gov/health/fall-proofing-your-home.
Falls Prevention | Children’s Safety Network. www.childrenssafetynetwork.org/child-safety-topics/falls.
“Facts about Falls.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 Aug. 2021, ww.cdc.gov/falls/facts.html.