are the leading cause of accidental death for the elderly.
They account for about half of all accidental deaths in the
home. In rural areas, these accidents can be very frightening
if a person lives alone. Help is often thirty minutes or more
away. In 1989, 500 rural residents in the United States died
in their homes due to accidents, and another 80,000 suffered
injuries caused by falls happen at ground level and not from
high places. Chances of falling increase when it is dark,
when things are not put away, and when spills are not cleaned
up quickly. Broken or damaged household items may also result
are more likely to fall when you are sick, tired, rushed or
emotionally upset. You are also more likely to fall when you
are using alcohol or drugs, whether by prescription or not.
Many accidents occur because someone has been careless. Not
being careless means using a ladder instead of climbing on
a chair or table to replace a light bulb or reach another
high object. It means carrying small loads up or down stairs
instead of carrying one extra large load. These and many other
simple suggestions can prevent accidents through keeping a
safe home. Some suggestions are in this fact sheet. Check
through them to see if there are any you can use to make your
home safer for you and your family.
floors in good repair. Loose boards, slippery throw rugs,
frayed carpet and loose kitchen tiles can easily be overlooked
until they cause a fall.
throw rugs heavy enough to lie flat, and tape their edges
down to keep them from skidding. Use rugs with nonskid backing
in places where they cannot be taped down, or simply nail
them in place.
up spills immediately.
stretch electrical cords across rooms, and never run extension
cords underneath a rug or carpet. Besides causing falls,
they could overheat or fray and catch fire.
furniture so all the members of your family can move through
the house easily.
floors clear of toys, magazines, or other objects that may
be cluttering them. Remember that children, toys and pets
are dangerous additions to working areas.
run through the house. You are more likely to slip when
use cleaning supplies according to their directions.
1990, nearly 1 million people required hospital room treatment
for falls on stairs and steps. It is as important to keep
your stairs in good repair as it is your floors.
stairs and steps well lit and free of objects. Good lighting
is cheap insurance for safety in all traffic areas, especially
stairs. Make sure that light switches are accessible from
the top and bottom of the stairway. See Figure 1.
any stair coverings securely.
loads that are small enough to not block your vision and
allow you a free hand.
your time when going up or down stairs.
use stairways to store boxes, tools, equipment or odds and
ends, even temporarily.
extra care going up or down stairs when wearing high heels,
house slippers, long dresses or robes.
use small rugs at the top or bottom of stairways.
extra caution, paint the top and bottom steps white. Or,
put white stripes on the front edges of steps.
sand with paint for a rough, non-slip surface on basement
or outdoor steps.
a flashlight handy when using poorly lit stairways.
others out of the kitchen while cleaning hard surface flooring
so no one slips and falls on a wet floor.
use a ladder or step stool when reaching for items in cabinets
or on shelves. Never use a chair or overreach.
carefully when handling hot food and food dishes; don't
dishes at an appropriate height.
cautious around the wet, slippery surfaces, which are often
seen in bathrooms. Keep rubber-backed or taped-down rugs
on the floor.
a nonskid mat or self-adhesive nonskid appliques in the
bathtub or shower.
grab bars in and out of the bathtub or shower. Have a grab
bar system installed around the toilet for household members
hanging wet clothes, be sure they drip into the tub or shower
and not onto the floor where they could create puddles.
night lights in the bathroom for nighttime visitors.
people are more likely to trip over things. Make sure traffic
lanes are free of clutter. Install night lights.
any drawers or closet doors after use.
average of 150 children die of falls each year. This year,
one child in four will suffer a preventable injury serious
enough to warrant medical attention. Always watch your children,
and know where they are. Teach them the hazards that exist
in the home.
are a common hazard for children. Window guards should be
installed on upper floors of multi-story homes. Never leave
a window wide open; children have fallen out of windows
open only five inches!
your child has a walker, watch him or her carefully. Walkers
can tip and roll down stairs, seriously injuring a child.
tables should have straps to hold the child. Never leave
a child alone on a changing table, even for a moment.
you have small children, use gates at the top and bottom
of your stairways.
accordion stair gates may have holes large enough for babies
to poke their heads through. So, although they won't fall
down the steps, they may strangle.
children to pick up their toys.
can cause a fall. Reduce chances of falling by wearing shoes
with pliable soles and low heels. Short garments or pants
are safer to wear around the house than long dresses or
night lights throughout the house. Some plug into a socket,
but all are cheap to buy and operate.
furniture so traffic patterns within rooms are as straight
and wide as possible. Keep furniture out of normal traffic
any open drawers, cabinets, doors or closets after use and
before going to bed.
a stepladder or step stool to reach high places. However,
do not stand on the top step of a stepladder.
you must stand on a chair, use a sturdy one with a wide
base, solid bottom and a high back. Wear low-heeled shoes.
Place the chair as close as possible to the object you are
attempting to reach. Stand on the chair near the middle
of the seat, with the back in front of you.
Safety Council, Accident Facts (1990 Edition).
Menace for the Very Young: the Shopping Cart," New York
Times (May 31, 1991).
Ashby, "Redbook's Home Accident Prevention Guide for Parents,"
Redbook, V 176 (December 1990), 83-86.
to Michelle L. Wallingford for her contributions to this
Publication #: AEX-691.1
document is AEX-691.1, Ohio State University Extension,
Columbus, Ohio 43210. Funded in whole or in part from Grant
Number U05/CCU506070-02, "Cooperative Agreement Program
for Agricultural Health Promotion Systems," National Institute
for Occupational Safety and Health. Publication date: June
Reviewed by Drs. Karen Mancl and Peter Fynn, Department
of Agricultural Engineering and Dr. Judy Wessel, Family
Resource Management, Ohio State University Extension, Columbus,
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in
NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder.