Alabama might not have the snow and ice of other areas of the country, but rain and other conditions can lead to an environment where slips and falls occur. Knowing the main causes of slips and falls can help you take preventive actions to avoid a personal injury.

What Causes Falls?

Falls are a leading cause of injury in the United States, particularly for those 65 and older. A fall may arise from several causes, such as a poorly maintained property or an inherent hazard on the premises. However, other risk factors for falls exist. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines several different contributing factors for falls.

  • Biological risk factors, which may include balance problems, side effects from medications, or inherent muscle weakness. People with health conditions such as stroke, arthritis, or vision loss are also at higher risk for falls.
  • Behavioral risk factors, which include risky behaviors and physical inactivity.
  • Environmental risk factors are beyond a person’s control. They may involve tripping or slipping hazards, lack of proper safety equipment, and poorly designed spaces or buildings.

Generally, the more risk factors a person has, the more likely he or she is to experience a slip and fall. Identifying the risk factors unique to each person is the first step in preventing potential injuries from falls.

How Can People Prevent Falls?

Fortunately, many types of falls are preventable. By following some simple tips, we can all create an environment that is safer and poses less risk to those at higher risk.

Prevent Slip and Falls at Home

  • Pick up all clutter from the floor, including toys, books, and shoes
  • Anchor all loose electrical cords so they do not drag on the floor
  • Secure area rugs with double-sided tape
  • Identify and repair any potential issues, such as carpet bulges and unsecured brackets where the tile meets the carpet

Stop Slip and Falls in Public

  • Avoid being in a situation where you have to hurry, as you are more likely to make a misstep.
  • If you have any balance issues, consider navigating unfamiliar territory with an assistive device such as a cane.
  • Use extra care when traversing terrain that makes it difficult to maintain a footing, such as uneven sidewalks.
  • Avoid distractions such as cell phones.
  • Use extra caution when conditions are wet. Keep in mind that indoor floors can also be slippery in rainy conditions.
  • If commuting by foot in rainy weather, allow for extra travel time.

Prevent Trip and Fall/ Slip and Fall on Stairs

  • Keep all home steps and staircases clear of toys, laundry, shoes, etc.
  • Only use stairwells that are well-lit, if possible
  • Consider adding safety treads to home stairs
  • Always use the provided handrail
  • Keep your view of the next step clear when carrying items
  • Do not try to carry more than you can handle up or down stairs
  • Go slowly and take your time, especially on stairways with which you are unfamiliar

Other Considerations for Slips and Falls

  • If you are unsteady or have several risk factors for falls, consider using an assistive device or a mobility aid, such as a cane or a walker, while out and about. Use of simple, yet effective products can greatly decrease the risk of a slip and fall.
  • Follow the instructions for your medications closely and be aware of any side effects. Report any changes in balance or vision to your doctor immediately. An alternative may exist with less dangerous side effects.

Slips and falls can have dangerous consequences, but they are also preventable. Use the tips provided as a guide to reducing your risk of injury.