Some might assume Grandma is the only one apt to slip and trip on her walker, floor mats, or wet leaves outside. While she and Grandpa might take more than just a few spills, anyone can fall and injure themselves if they're not careful, whether it's on a staircase or because of a laptop cord resting on the floor.

More than 1.8 million Americans 65 years and older had to visit an emergency room in 2003 after a fall, according to the National Safety Council. The St. Louis Children’s Hospital in Missouri reported that more than 2.3 million children 14 and under are treated annually at hospital emergency rooms for fall-related injuries.

Fall-causing culprits include unsecured rugs, slippery bath mats in the tub, stairs without railings and adequate lighting, floor and stair clutter, and icy steps outside.

Wires from laptops, heating pads, floor lamps, and cell phone chargers can also get in the way if they are dangling off a table or laying on the floor. Slippery leaves in autumn can send you tumbling if you’re carelessly walking too quickly or wearing shoes without adequate grips on their soles.

Slips and trips can be prevented by carrying small loads up stairs instead of large ones, grasping stair railings, taping and securing rugs and bath mats, and keeping stairs clear of clutter or toys, according to the Home Safety Council’s web site.

When working on home improvement projects, stabilize ladders and don’t step on the top rung. Keep cords out of walkways, and don’t wait to clear snow and ice off of outdoor steps and paths in winter weather, reports the web site for the Occupational Safety and Health Association.

When it comes to protecting children from falls at home, don’t leave babies alone on beds or changing tables and use safety gates on stairs around small children, the National Safety Council notes on its web site.

The elderly can exercise to improve their balance, coordination and strength to prevent falls, said the web site for the American Red Cross. It is important for the elderly to make regular visits to the eye doctor for a vision check, since bad vision can cause falls. They can also install grab bars or bath chairs in their tubs to prevent slipping in the bathroom.

So before you find yourself taking a tumble and exclaiming, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” fall-proof your living space and be observant of walkway conditions outdoors wherever you are traveling.

Written by Susan Misur

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