The autumn season is finally here but as the temperatures start to cool and the leaves begin to sweep the ground, it’s important to think about another kind of fall — the kind that brings about numerous injuries each year — and the steps we can all take to prevent them.
Each year many people visit the hospital for treatment of injuries associated with falls with one in five falls causing a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury. Most falls are preventable, though, with a few simple precautions. Whether you choose to venture outside to enjoy the crisp, fall air this season or spend more quality time at home, take safety into your own hands and use these tips to prevent a fall.
• Do one thing at a time. Texting while walking can prevent you from noticing physical barriers and obstacles that may cause you to trip and fall.
• Slow down when approaching curbs or steps. This will allow you time to adjust to the height difference.
• Take extra precautions when walking on uneven surfaces, such as outdoor trails. Frequently scan your environment for tripping hazards to allow yourself time to make the necessary adjustments and prevent a fall.
• Neglecting to use a handrail is one of the most common contributing factors in stairway falls, so be sure to always use a handrail when going up and down stairs inside and outside of the home.
• Make safety adjustments at home. Get rid of or move things you can trip over, add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower, and put railing on both sides of your stairs.
• Improve lighting in and around your home. Add more or brighter light bulbs, place a night light in poorly lit halls and rooms so that you can find your way in the dark and consider installing motion-activated or timed lighting outside your home to avoid tripping over unforeseen obstacles.
If you do end up suffering from a fall, don’t immediately hop back up and risk falling again. Take a minute to make sure you’re not hurt. If you are not badly injured, try to get up by rolling on your side and slowly getting on your hands and knees. Then use a sturdy object to help get you the rest of the way up. If you are hurt or unable to get up, call for help and keep warm by moving as best you can.
For more fall-related safety tips from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, as well as advice on preventing slips and trips, over-exertions and driving related accidents this season, visit BeSafeOhio.com.
Michelle Francisco is a Safety Council Program Manager with the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, Division of Safety and Hygiene.