Avoid falls this holiday and winter season

Did you know that falls are the second leading cause of injuries just behind motor vehicle/motorcycle accidents?

With the onset of the holiday and winter seasons, comes bad weather and other factors that can increase the likelihood of falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of five falls causes a serious injury, like broken bones or a head injury. Last year, UofL Hospital saw more than 1,000 emergency room visits due to falls.

That’s why we want you to stay safe this season by following these tips for falls prevention:

  • Throw rugs: Many of us like to add throw rugs or door draft stoppers to keep our homes cozy and warm during the cold weather months. These items can bunch up or slide, causing you to fall. Remove throw rugs or non-skid mats or double-sided tape to keep them slipping or bunching.
  • Door draft stoppers: Otherwise known as door draft socks, these items can be trip hazards. Use a more permanent solution, like installing a weather-proofing strip to the bottom of your door, to keep out drafts.
  • Ladders and Step Stools: If you must use a step stool, use one with a supportive handle and have someone assist you. For ladders, use a broad-based ladder and follow the weight restrictions indicated. Always have someone with you who can assist or call 911 should a fall occur.
  • Lighting: Keep your home well-lit, use light switches at the top and bottom of stairs, and use nightlights. With less natural light outdoors, make sure your outdoor light fixtures provide adequate light to guide you around your home, especially at night.
  • Extension Cords: If you are adding holiday lights to the interior or exterior of your home, use tape or sticky hooks to keep cords attached to your walls or baseboard and never in the way of your walking path.
  • Pets – the colder weather may mean more time spent indoors for pets. Encourage pets to stay out of walking spaces by placing a bed for them on the perimeter of the room.
  • Walking on Ice: Slips and trips due to ice are common, so try walking like a penguin to stay upright: walk flatfooted using slow and choppy steps.  Also remember to wear rubber soles that are flat and waffled to provide good traction.  Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes or leather soles on ice.
  • Use de-icing materials: Keep walkways and driveways clear of ice and snow. Apply de-icing materials such as salt to remove build-up.

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About Annabelle Pike

Annabelle Pike is the healthy community and injury prevention manager at UofL Hospital where she oversees the Injury Prevention Program, including Stop the Bleed, a program teaching bystanders how to stop life-threatening bleeding, and Pivot to Peace Intervention Network, our hospital-based violence intervention program. Annabelle earned her master's in business administration from the University of Louisville.

All posts by Annabelle Pike