Falls are the leading cause of personal injury to U.S. senior citizens, and most of those falls occur in the home. Anyone can accidentally fall in a home, however, and the costs associated with the treatment of those fall injuries exceeds $20 billion per year. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) offers the following guidelines for safeguarding the health of your family and friends by acting to prevent falls in your home:
In the bedroom:
"Place a lamp, telephone and flashlight near your bed.
Sleep on a bed that is easy to get into and out of.
Replace satiny sheets and comforter with products made of nonslippery material; i.e., wool, cotton.
Arrange clothes in your closet so that they are easy-to-reach.
Install a night-light along the route between your bedroom and the bathroom.
Keep clutter off the bedroom floor."
In the living areas:
"Arrange furniture so you have a clear pathway between rooms.
Keep low-rise coffee tables, magazine racks, footrests and plants out of the path of traffic.
Install easy-access light switches at entrances to rooms so you won’t have to walk into a darkened room in order to turn on the light. Glow-in-the-dark switches may be helpful.
Walk only in well-lighted rooms, stairs and halls.
Do not store boxes near doorways or in hallways.
Remove newspapers and all clutter from pathways.
Keep electric, appliance and telephone cords out of walkways, but don’t put cords under a rug.
Don’t run extension cords across pathways; rearrange furniture.
Secure loose area rugs with double-faced tape, tacks, or slip-resistant backing.
Don’t sit in a chair or on a sofa that is so low it is difficult to stand up.
Repair loose wooden floorboards right away.
Remove door sills higher than 1/2 inch."
In the kitchen:
"Remove throw rugs.
Clean up immediately any liquids, grease, or food spilled on the floor.
Store food, dishes, and cooking equipment within easy reach.
Don’t stand on chairs or boxes to reach upper cabinets.
Use nonskid floor wax."
Around stairs and steps:
"Keep stairs clear of packages, boxes or clutter.
Light switches should be at the top and bottom of the stairs. Or consider installing motion-detector lights which turn on automatically.
Provide enough light to see each stair and the top and bottom landings.
Keep flashlights nearby in case of a power outage.
Remove loose area rugs from the bottom or top of stairs.
Replace patterned, dark or deep-pile carpeting with a solid color, which will show the edges of steps more clearly.
Put non-slip treads on each bare-wood step.
Install handrails on both sides of the stairway. Each should be 30 inches above the stairs and extend the full length of the stairs.
Repair loose stairway carpeting or wooden boards immediately."
In the bedroom:
"Place a slip-resistant rug adjacent to the bathtub for safe exit and entry.
Mount a liquid soap dispenser on the bathtub/shower wall.
Install grab bars on the bathroom walls.
Keep a night-light in the bathroom.
Use a rubber mat or place nonskid adhesive textured strips on the tub.
Replace glass shower enclosures with non-shattering material.
Stabilize yourself on the toilet by using either a raised seat or a special toilet seat with armrests.
Use a sturdy, plastic seat in the bathtub if you cannot lower yourself to the floor of the tub or if you are unsteady."
Previously on the DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:
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