Staying Safe on the Stairs
Why Falls Happen
The stairs are actually one of the most dangerous parts of a home. Every year, people of all ages fall and injure themselves on the stairs, but among them, seniors are the most likely to have an accident. In fact, falls on the stairs are the most common reason for accidental death and hospitalization among those over sixty-five.There are many things that can cause a fall on the stairs. Sometimes it is as a result of environmental factors. This includes items left on the stairs, such as purses or children’s toys, or it could be caused by a loose board on the stairs. These are often the easiest types of falls to prevent.It is important to never use the stairs as a place to store things and always keep them clear of clutter. Keeping the stairs in good repair is also very important. Thins includes keeping handrails tight and fixing loose boards.While some falls on the stairs are caused by environmental factors, sometimes people are simply not paying attention and miss a step. This can happen to anyone and is one reason that holding onto the handrail is such a good idea. Always take your time on the stairs and ensure that you are paying attention to where you place your feet. Often, these types of falls will be common when you get excited and run up the stairs, so being careful in this regard is important.Injuries and illness also often plays a big part in accidents climbing the stairs. Arthritis is one of the most common illnesses that can affect your mobility, but there are many other diseases that can make bending your knees painful or result in reduced balance. Many times, medication can also make you unsteady on your feet, so it is very important to always be familiar with your medications side effects and if it can affect your balance, you should be very careful when using the stairs.These are some of the more common causes for falls on the stairs, but there are many other things that can result in an injury.
Since seniors are the most likely to have an accident on the stairs, this section will mainly address reducing the risk of a fall for a senior.
- Clearly Mark the Stairs: Using a bright easy to see textured tape, mark each step and any other area of the home that might require a step up or a step down. It is a good idea to use a different colored tape on the top and bottom step, so it is easy to tell when the stairs end.
- Remove throw rugs and loose carpet: A loose carpet can easily slide and send a person toppling. It is a good idea to remove these carpets, especially around the stairs.
- Buy Non-Skid Shoes: A good pair of shoes can greatly reduce the risk of a fall. The sole should be rubber and designed to be skid resistant.
- Check the Handrails: Make sure the handrails are tight and easy to grab. The height of the handrails might need to be adjusted to better accommodate the senior.
- Provide Adequate Lighting: Make sure the stairs are well lit and that the light switch is easy to use.
- Consider Using a Stair Lift: Stair lifts are devices that are installed onto the staircase to carry a person up the stairs. Usually the occupant will sit in a chair, which will slowly move up the stairs. These can provide a great way to improve safety on the stairs.