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Home Safe Home

Patrick Nowak RN, BScN

As we get older, our risk of falling increases, as does our risk of injury as a result. We see it all too often: a loved one gets a fracture. They get admitted to hospital, lose their independence, and might even be placed into long term care.

Many falls happen around the home and many seemingly harmless things can be dangerous. With winter on its way, it’s a good time to check your house for hazards that could cause a fall.

Let’s take a look at some common hazards in and around the home. These can range from slippery floors, clutter such as unsecured electrical cords, carpeted stairs that lack contrast which makes edges hard to see, or loose mats and scatter rugs. Hazards exist outside the house as well. Paths and stairs that are poorly lit, in disrepair, uneven, or have pot holes can be a hazard too.

So what can we do to reduce these hazards inside? We can start by installing good lighting. Some companies make night lights that have motion sensors to light hallways during the night. Remove or secure items that you could trip over such as throw rugs. Be sure to keep hallways and passages free of clutter. Also make sure that spills are cleaned up right away. Finally, make steps safer with edging strips and ensuring you have a railing to hold onto.

Outside the home, make sure walkways and paths are maintained and even. Store hoses, tools, and other items away after use. While walking about, use non-slip shoes and boots with a tread to help you grip snow, ice, and pavement. If you use a walking aid, be sure it is fitted by someone certified in doing so. If you aren’t at home and you see a hazard in or around a building, be sure to contact the local Public Works Department or the building’s owner or manager.

We want all older adults to stay active, stay independent, and stay on their feet. There are many community resources and programs that can help you or a loved one reduce their risk of falling. If you are unsure of whether you or a loved one is at risk, contact the health unit to obtain more information. For more information on how to prevent falls, contact me at the Porcupine Health Unit at 705-267-1181 ext. 2369.