COLUMN: Lyle Karasiuk — Sept. 27, 2012

Lyle Karasiuk
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If you know someone that has been treated in the emergency department after suffering a fall, you are not alone.

Unintentional falls are the leading injury-related reason for why people seek emergency medical care. Falls happen anytime, anywhere to anyone. It can be life changing especially to an older person.

Loss of independence is something we all fear. Small children can suffer severe injuries associated with falls from windows, play equipment including trampolines.

Prevention is the key to stopping fall related injuries:

• Remove clutter from your home.  Don’t leave objects on the stairs or walkways.

• Use nightlights in the bedroom, hall and bathroom.  Be sure the tops and bottoms of stairs are well lit.

• Repair loose stairway carpeting or boards.

• Consider adding hand grip bars in a bathroom and shower area, especially for the elderly or those with disabilities.

• Make your home or work area easily accessible for the elderly or those with disabilities if they frequent that area. You can do that by moving furniture or objects on the floor that could cause tripping hazards.

• Especially for elderly people, remove throw rugs and tack down other rugs to avoid tripping.  Also consider using a panic button (as a pendant, wristband or necklace).

• Be sure the bottom of the tub or shower has a non-skid surface.

• Wear helmets and other protective gear if biking, motorcycling or playing any type of contact sport.

• Inspect child playground equipment to make sure it is age appropriate and in good condition.

• Play areas should be covered with padding, such as shredded mulch, wood chips, gravel or fine sand.

• Keep stairs clear of toys and other items that could cause someone to trip.  If young children are allowed on stairs, teach them to hold the handrail and always tie their shoes so they avoid tripping.

• Set up locking gates near stairs to block young children if they are too young to be on them.

• Windows that open for children as young as 5 years old install window guards with quick release mechanisms that can opened easily in case of a fire.

With any fall, we are often embarrassed that we’ve fallen and in our haste often want to get up or are assisted by a bystander to get up.

Stop before you move yourself or move someone check for injuries. If the person has any pain in their head, neck or back do not move them and activate the emergency response system. If no life threatening injuries then wiggle your hands, feet, arms and legs, any pain then stop seek medical treatment.

Pain in the hip or upper leg; don’t move as a small injury can often be made worse. Stay healthy, enjoy activities and taken your time when participating in any activity.

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