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Staying Safe on the Stairs

Updated on March 23, 2009

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.

Preventing Falls

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.

Comments

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  • brad4l profile image
    Author

    brad4l 9 years ago from USA

    Kiwi91, thanks for the comment. You are certainly correct, Socks and Hardwood floors can easily be a recipe for disaster.

  • kiwi91 profile image

    kiwi91 9 years ago from USA

    I know I've taken many a fall down some stairs. My parents had hardwood stairs and we had to take our sneakers off all the time, which was disastrous. Great hub!

  • brad4l profile image
    Author

    brad4l 9 years ago from USA

    Please don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions. You have some great hubs btw ;)

  • AEvans profile image

    Julianna 9 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

    Thank you for the valuable information as I will have to go and check this out over the weekend as we need to get this done. I will get the tacks and not the strips as you suggested as safety is first. I will let you know if I have anymore questions and great article. :)

  • brad4l profile image
    Author

    brad4l 9 years ago from USA

    AEvans and rbnstr08, thanks for the kind words.

     

    AEvans, probably a runner or something like it would be a good idea. There are several alternatives to a full runner, including non-skid stair treads. The stair treads work like a runner, but they are a little easier to install.

    Basically, a non-skid stair tread is a small rectangle of carpet or rubber, which is placed over the step. If you had 10 steps, then you would need ten stair treads, with one being placed over the top of each step.

    Usually, the manufacturer of the individual stair treads state that you don't need to tack them down, but I don't recommend this. I would suggest, whether you go with a full length runner or the individual stair treads, that you secure them to the floor using carpet tacks. Having a loose runner or loose stair tread can be very dangerous.

    There is also wide tape strips that could be used on each steps, but this is messy and time consuming to remove.

    I hope this helps you out, but please let me know if you have any questions.

  • AEvans profile image

    Julianna 9 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

    I have a question we have hard wood stairs in our home and it is slippery, we do not want to put a runner on them as the home was built in 1932 what do you recommend to prevent anyone from slipping, or should we go ahead and place a runner? Great article!!

  • rbnstr08 profile image

    rbnstr08 9 years ago from Philippines

    Very good hub! Hardly does anyone take the concern to make stairs safe! Just a month ago the back of my heel had a deep cut because of a broken concrete step that was not repaired by our landlord.

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