If you or someone you know
has been treated in the emergency department recently after suffering a fall,
you are not alone. Unintentional falls
are the leading injury-related reason for why people seek emergency care, with
almost 9 million visits occurring each year, according to the latest data from
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The nation’s emergency
physicians are prepared to care for anyone injured from a fall,” said Dr.
Sandra Schneider, spokesperson for the American College of Emergency Physicians. “But
it’s important to look around your everyday environment and minimize the risk
to not only for yourself, but for others as well. There is a reason that unintentional falls
are common injuries with our patients. They
can happen at any time, any place and happen to anyone.”
Facts About Unintentional Falls:
are the leading cause of unintentional home injury deaths, accounting for 33
percent of deaths, according the Home Safety Council (HSC).
account for more than 40 percent of nonfatal injuries (HSC).
two highest risk age groups are children under five and older adults over 70 years
children, the most severe falls are generally associated with baby walkers,
windows and play equipment, including trampolines.
older adults, falls are associated with lower-body weakness, problems with
balance and walking, visual impairment, chronic illness or a history of stroke.
Preventing Unintentional Falls:
clutter from your home. Don’t leave
objects on the stairs or walkways.
nightlights in the bedroom, hall and bathroom.
Be sure the tops and bottoms of stairs are well lit.
loose stairway carpeting or boards.
adding hand grip bars in a bathroom and shower area, especially for the elderly
or those with disabilities.
your home or work area easily accessible for the elderly or those with
disabilities if they frequent that area. You can do that by moving furniture or
objects on the floor that could cause tripping hazards.
for elderly people, remove throw rugs and tack down other rugs to avoid
tripping. Also consider using a panic
button (as a pendant, wristband or necklace).
sure the bottom of the tub or shower has a non-skid surface.
helmets and other protective gear if biking, motorcycling or playing any type
of contact sport.
child playground equipment to make sure it is age appropriate and in good
areas should be covered with padding, such as shredded mulch, wood chips,
gravel or fine sand.
stairs clear of toys and other items that could cause someone to trip. If young children are allowed on stairs,
teach them to hold the handrail and always tie their shoes so they avoid
up locking gates near stairs to block young children if they are too young to
be on them.
that open for children as young as 5 years old install window guards with quick
release mechanisms that can opened easily in case of a fire.
“A fall can be
a sentinel event in the life of an older person, potentially marking the
beginning of a serious decline in function or the symptom of a new or worsening
medical condition,” said Dr. Schneider.
“Identifying the cause of the fall and making appropriate interventions
to improve function are as critical as treating injuries if future falls are to
be prevented and quality of life and longevity are to be improved.”
To see ACEP’s Home Safety Checklist, go to http://www.acep.org/workarea/downloadasset.aspx?id=8716.
ACEP is a national medical specialty society representing
emergency medicine. ACEP is committed to advancing emergency care through
continuing education, research and public education. Headquartered in Dallas,
Texas, ACEP has 53 chapters representing each state, as well as Puerto Rico and
the District of Columbia. A Government Services Chapter represents emergency
physicians employed by military branches and other government agencies.