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How To Make Your Home Safe & Prevent Falls


Updated May 31, 2010

How To Make Your Home Safe & Prevent Falls
Image © Duncan Walker
Home safety is important in preventing falls in the elderly. All people over age 65, or anyone with osteoporosis, should check to ensure their home is safe. A few simple steps can help prevent falls and fractures.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: 1 hour

Here's How:

  1. Remove or Secure Throw Rugs:
    Removing unsecured rugs is the simplest way to prevent falls in the house. If the rug is too meaningful to remove, consider hanging, moving under a table, or securing it to the floor with double-sided rug tape.

    Also look for other loose floor items such as electrical cords, lamp wires, or phone cords. These should be secured so they cannot get tangled under your feet.

  2. Clean Up Piles:
    Stacks of books and newspapers may not be seen- -- put them away. Don't pile shoes by the door; instead have a place to store these items so they don't become obstacles.

  3. Add Lighting, Change Bulbs:
    A well-lit room is much safer. Consider adding lighting to areas that are dim. Also, consider nightlights for high traffic areas such as hallways, and the top and bottom of stairs.

    Make sure lightbulbs are checked frequently. Find someone who lives nearby to replace the bulbs, and have this person check and replace burnt-out bulbs.

  4. Add Rails to Staircases:
    Make sure all stairways have stable railings. Again, add nightlights at the top and bottom of the stairway, and ensure there are two-way switches at each end of the stairway for overhead lights.

  5. Address Slippery Bathroom Surfaces:
    Slippery bathroom surfaces (floors, shower stalls, tubs) should be addressed with either a change of surface, or the application of no-slip cover. No-slip surfaces can be purchased at a home improvement store and easily applied.

  6. Use Low Cabinets/Shelves:
    Make sure all items are in low, easily accessible cabinets. This includes items that you may only use occasionally. All it takes is one slip from a stepstool while reaching for the cake pan to cause a fracture.

  7. Wear Shoes Inside:
    If you don't want to track the outside in, have a pair or indoor shoes that you can slip on for around the house. Shoes should be supportive and have a good tread. Slippers, especially those without rubber bottoms, are especially dangerous.

  8. Sources:

    Gill TM, et al. "A population-based study of environmental hazards in the homes of older persons" Am J Public Health, Apr 1999; 89: 553 - 556.

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