Leaves are supposed to fall; people aren’t
As the temperature starts its downward trend, and the days get increasingly shorter, it's time to start thinking about autumn and winter falls risks and how you can eliminate or reduce them.
- Leaves, branches and other debris from trees due to the change in seasons can make walkways slippery or hide tripping hazards, like uneven surfaces, edges and steps. Keep walkways clean, and if you can't see that the surface is clear and flat, pick another path.
- If winterizing your home includes cleaning gutters, changing light bulbs or other tasks that require you to get up high, use a step ladder or a step stool with a handle, and maintain three points of contact (two feet and a hand, or two hands and a foot) at all times. Do not climb on chairs or other furniture that was not designed for that purpose.
- Shorter days mean less direct sunlight and less sunlight overall, meaning you may need more light to get around your home safely. Invest in extra lamps, nightlights and exterior pathway lights to make sure you can always see where you are walking, especially around doorways and stairs. Use the highest-wattage bulb recommended for your fixtures.
- Don't let the cooler weather and shorter days limit your activity. Exercise that builds and maintains strength and balance is important to prevent falls year-round. Ask your doctor or physical therapist about indoor exercises that can help you maintain strength and balance when you can't venture out.
- As the temperature drops, bundle up to stay warm, but make sure you can see in all directions and move easily and freely.
- Keep shoes and walking aids (canes, walkers) free of dirt and mud. Dry them off immediately upon coming in from wet conditions. Remember, wet shoes are just as dangerous as wet floors.
More falls prevention tips...
10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls!"
On Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, National Falls Prevention Awareness Day, organizations and individuals all over the state helped us take "10 Million Steps to Prevent Falls!"
Fifty-seven organizations and more than 4,400 Ohioans joined us to walk more than 5,300 miles, or more than 13.2 million steps in the name of falls prevention. More importantly, we formed new partnerships within Ohio's communities to help raise awareness of the epidemic of falls and help our elders take important steps to reduce their risk of taking a life-changing tumble. Learn more...
Be safe at fall fairs and festivals
Ohio's local fairs, festivals and other attractions are great ways to get exercise that can help you prevent falls. While you're out and about, watch out for these commons falls risks:
- As much as possible, stick to paved surfaces and sidewalks. If you must walk in grass or gravel, watch the ground closely with your eyes, but keep your head up and face forward. Consider using a cane or walking stick for off-road walking.
- Trash, hoses and cables in walkways can cause you to slip or trip. Watch where you are walking and do not step on or over items in your path.
- Heavy crowds can affect the way you walk and cause you to trip or be knocked over. Consider attending events and attractions during off-peak times, such as early in the day and on weekdays, to avoid large crowds.
- Dehydration and exhaustion can make you unsteady on your feet before you realize you feel tired or thirsty. Take frequent breaks to sit down and rest. Drink plenty of non-alcoholic liquids to stay hydrated.
Take a falls risk self-assessment.
Did you know...?
- Falls are the leading cause of injury-related hospitalization and death among Ohioans aged 65 and older
- An older Ohioan falls every two minutes on average, resulting in an injury every five minutes, six emergency department visits and one hospitalization each hour, and three deaths each day.
- Approximately 15 percent of Ohio citizens are age 65 or older, yet this group accounts for more than 84 percent of fatal falls.
- The total estimated cost of falls (medical costs, work loss) is $646 million annually in Ohio, or $1.8 million each day.
- Falls are not a normal part of aging, and most falls can be prevented!
It Takes Everyone
Most falls in older adults can be prevented. A person's risk for falls goes down the minute he or she stops being afraid of falling. Preventing falls for every older Ohioan will take a community approach.
Everyone - from the individual and his family, to doctors and nurses, to business owners and managers, to community leaders and more - has a role to play in preventing falls. It's like the old saying goes, "united we stand, divided we fall." What's your role in preventing falls in Ohio?
If you wish to become involved in the STEADY U initiative, contact us or subscribe to be notified of opportunities. Opportunities include community falls prevention coalitions, serving as a lay leader in the A Matter of Balance Program, and more.
Falls Prevention in the News
About STEADY U Ohio
STEADY U Ohio is a statewide collaborative falls prevention initiative, supported by Ohio government and state business partners to ensure that every county, every community and every Ohioan knows how they can prevent falls, one step at a time. This website is the source in Ohio for falls prevention information, tools and other resources.