By Nurse Diane
"I've fallen and I can't get up!" I’m sure you all have seen this commercial from Life Support. I recently saw a new one where the lady is saying, "I just started some new medicine and I feel dizzy.” The lady at the other end of the line asked if she needed an ambulance, then sent one right over. Many of my friends and family are elderly, and I am always worried that they will fall and injure themselves. Recently my aunt fell in her garage, hit her head on concrete and eventually passed away from her injuries.
Most of the home accidents occur with the elderly and children. The home is the site of approximately 20% of all injury death. The top five leading causes of unintentional home injury death are falls, poisoning, fire/burn, choking/suffocation, and drowning; together these causes account for 90% of all unintentional home injury deaths. Yet the majority of unintentional home injuries do not result in death. For every home injury death there are approximately 650 nonfatal injuries. Children under age 5 and adults over age 70 are the highest risk groups for home injury, both fatal and nonfatal according to the Home Safety Council.
Falls continue to be the major reason for injury-related death, injury and hospital admission for older adults.
Follow these tips to prevent slips and falls in your home:
- Keep the floor clear. Reduce clutter and safely tuck telephone and electrical cords out of walkways.
- Keep the floor clean. Clean up grease, water and other liquids immediately. Don't wax floors.
- Use non-skid throw rugs to reduce your chance of slipping on linoleum.
- Install handrails in stairways. Have grab bars in the bathroom (by toilets and in tub/shower.)
- Make sure living areas are well lit. We can all trip and fall in the dark.
- Be aware that climbing and reaching high places will increase your chance of a fall. Use a sturdy step stool with handrails when these tasks are necessary.
- Follow medication dosages closely. Using medication incorrectly may lead to dizziness, weakness and other side effects. These can all lead to a dangerous fall.
Below are some tips that will help make your home more safe but I would suggest that you go to each room in your home, look around to see if there is any possible health hazard that could be lurking in any corner.
Have first-aid kit stocked with emergency items.
- Practice a home fire escape plan twice a year so everyone knows at least two exits out of every room and where to meet outside in case of an emergency
- Test your smoke alarms once a month and replace batteries yearly
- Stay in the kitchen when food is cooking on the stove
- Use nightlights to help light hallways and bathrooms during nighttime hours
- Use a sturdy step stool and not a chair when climbing
- Post the National Poison Control Hotline number (800-222-1222) along with other emergency numbers next to every phone
(Photos from Google)