Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall and every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. In honor of Fall Prevention Awareness Day, on September 23rd, ADRC of Northwest Wisconsin encourages you to go through this home safety checklist. Many falls happen in the home and they are often due to hazards that are easy to overlook but also very easy to fix. This checklist, provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will help you find and fix those hazards in your home.
Floors: Look at the floor in each room and ask yourself…
- Do I have to walk around furniture when I walk through a room? Ask someone to move the furniture so your path is clear.
- Do I have rugs on the floor? Remove the rugs or use double sided tape or a non-slip backing so the rugs won’t slip.
- Are there papers, books, towels, shoes, magazines, boxes, blankets, or other objects on the floor? Always keep objects off the floor.
- Do you have to walk over or around wires or cords (like lamp, telephone, or extension cords)? Coil or tape cords and wires next to the wall so you can’t trip over them. If needed, have an electrician put in another outlet.
Stairs and steps: Look at the stairs you use both inside and outside your home.
- Are there papers, shoes, books, or other objects on the stairs? Pick up things on the stairs. Always keep objects off the stairs.
- Are some steps broken or uneven? Fix loose or uneven steps.
- Are you missing a light over the stairway? Have an electrician put in an overhead light at the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Do you have only one light switch for your stairs (only at the top or at the bottom of the stairs)? Have an electrician put in a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs. You can get light switches that glow.
- Has the stairway light bulb burned out? Have a friend or family member change the light bulb.
- Is the carpet on the steps loose or torn? Make sure the carpet is firmly attached to every step, or remove the carpet and attach non-slip rubber treads to the stairs.
- Are the handrails loose or broken? Is there a handrail on only one side of the stairs? Fix loose handrails or put in new ones. Make sure handrails are on both sides of the stairs and are as long as the stairs.
Kitchen: Look at your kitchen and eating area.
- Are the things you use often on high shelves? Keep things you use often on the lower shelves (about waist level).
- Is your step stool unsteady? If you must use a step stool, get one with a bar to hold on to. Never use a chair as a step stool.
Bathrooms: Look at all your bathrooms.
- Is the tub or shower floor slippery? Put a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the floor of the tub or shower.
- Do you need some support when you get in and out of the tub or up from the toilet? Have grab bars put in next to and inside the tub and next to the toilet.
Bedrooms: Look at all your bedrooms.
- Is the light near the bed hard to reach? Place a lamp close to the bed where it’s easy to reach.
- Is the path from your bed to the bathroom dark? Put in a night-light so you can see where you’re walking. Some night-lights go on by themselves after dark.
There is a lot you can do to decrease your risk for falling and this checklist is a great place to start! To learn more, call the ADRC of Northwest Wisconsin at 877-485-2372 to sign up for a Stepping On fall prevention workshop.
Submitted by: Carrie Myers, Resource Specialist, ADRC of Northwest Wisconsin
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