Home Safety Council Research Shows Older Adults and Children at Greatest Risk - WASHINGTON, DC ? New research shows that millions of Americans will suffer a serious injury from one of the most preventable home hazards ? slips and falls. According to the Home Safety Council?s State of Home Safety in America? report, slips and falls are the leading cause of home injury and related death, with an average of nearly 6,000 deaths and more than 5.1 million nonfatal injuries reported each year.
?The high risk of taking a fall and suffering a serious injury often surprises people,? said Home Safety Council president Meri-K Appy. ?As a result, common slipping and tripping hazards that are easy to fix are too frequently overlooked in American households. Our research shows a clear need for families to take action in their homes now to reduce this severe danger.?
The Home Safety Council study shows that older adults and young children are at greatest risk of serious fall-related injuries at home. Adults over the age of 65 suffer more than 1.5 million nonfatal injuries and 4,700 deaths each year. Nearly 1.2 million children visit emergency rooms annually to treat fall-related injuries.
Taking steps to reduce the danger for children and older adults will also help protect the entire family. The Home Safety Council urges all families to conduct a home safety walk-through to find and fix potential falling hazards at home. What to look for:
All stairs and steps should be protected with a secure banister or hand-rail on each side that extends the full length of the stairs. Make sure stairwells have a light at the top and bottom of the stairs.
Make sure all porches, hallways and stairwells are well lit. Use the maximum safe wattage in light fixtures. Maximum wattage is typically posted inside light fixtures.
Use nightlights to help light hallways and bathrooms during night-time hours.
Keep stairs, steps, landings and all floors clear. Reduce clutter and safely tuck away telephone and electrical cords out of walkways.
In homes with children, make sure toys and games are not left on steps or landings.
When very young children are present, use safety gates at the tops and bottoms of stairs.
Use a non-slip mat or install adhesive safety strips or decals in bathtubs and showers. If you use a bath mat on the floor, choose one that has a non-skid bottom.
Install grab bars in bath and shower stalls. Don't use towel racks or wall-mounted soap dishes as grab bars; they can easily come loose, causing a fall.
Keep the floor clean. Promptly clean up grease, water and other spills.
If you use throw rugs in your home place them over a rug-liner or choose rugs with non-skid backs to reduce your chance of slipping.
Know that screens are not strong enough to protect a child from falling out. Install window guards on upper floors, making sure they?re designed to open quickly from the inside in case of fire.
Always practice constant supervision if children are near an open window, and keep cribs and furniture away from windows.
Follow medication dosages closely. Using multiple medications and/or using medications incorrectly may cause dizziness, weakness and other side effects which can lead to a dangerous fall.
On a playground, cover areas under and around play equipment with soft materials such as hardwood chips, mulch, shredded rubber, pea gravel and sand. Materials should be nine to 12 inches deep and extend six feet from all sides of play equipment.
When climbing on a ladder is necessary, always stand at or below the highest safe standing level. For a stepladder, the safe standing level is the second rung from the top, and for an extension ladder, it's the fourth rung from the top.
For additional information and resources to help you learn more and stay safe in and around your home, please visit www.homesafetycouncil.org.
About Home Safety Council
The Home Safety Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to helping prevent the nearly 21 million medical visits that occur on average each year from unintentional injuries in the home. Through national programs and partners across America, the Home Safety Council works to educate and empower families to take actions that help keep them safe in and around their homes. To learn more about the Council?s programs, partnerships and resources, visit the Home Safety Council at www.homesafetycouncil.org.