Tips to Prevent Falls Around Bathrooms & WindowsSep 15, 2022
Use these tips to prevent falls in older adults and keep the whole family safe
September brings the beginning of fall, but the National Council on Aging (NCOA) wants to make sure you’re thinking about more than crisp air and changing leaves. The NCOA has dubbed September Fall Prevention Awareness Month to bring attention to the dangers of falls and fall injuries. Thankfully, there are easy steps you can take to keep you and your loved ones safe this season and all year long.
Fall Prevention Awareness Month: Facts & Figures
- More than 25% of Americans over age 65 will experience a fall sometime this year.
- Falls result in more than 3 million injuries annually, and 800,000 hospitalizations.
- The financial cost of treating fall-related injuries is expected to climb to $101 billion by 2030.
- 60% of falls happen at home
- Each year, more than 3,300 children are injured from falling out of windows
- Annually, about 235,000 people over age 15 visit emergency rooms because of bathroom related injuries, and 81% of those injuries are fall-related.
Tips to Prevent Bathroom Falls
Bathroom fall prevention comes down to making sure your bathroom is equipped with features that provide stability and reduce the risk of slipping, tripping, and falling.
• Add Grab Bars Everywhere!
Many people envision grab bars as being useful only inside the bath or shower area, but grab bars can be placed anywhere you need them. In addition to inside the shower, consider adding grab bars outside the shower to provide balance while stepping in and out. Place grab bars near toilets to make sitting, standing, and balancing easier.
!! IMPORTANT !! Towel rods should NEVER be used as grab bars. They are not designed to bear weight, and often have multiple parts that can bend, twist, or come apart unexpectedly, or pull out of the wall entirely. Always choose one-piece grab bars designed and installed specifically for use as a safety device.
• Add Shower Benches & Chairs
Providing a secure place to sit helps reduce bathroom falls dramatically. Built-in shower benches and standalone shower chairs are two helpful seated bathing options. A walk-in tub is a more permanent solution
• Consider Low-Threshold Shower Bases
If you’re making a bathroom update to address bathroom safety needs, make sure a low-threshold shower base is in your plan. These designs are easier to step over than traditional shower bases, helping to lessen the risk of tripping while getting in and out of the shower.
• Remove Rugs Whenever Possible
AARP says rugs are a trip hazard that you can easily remove from your home. If you need a rug in the bathroom, use one that has a no-slip design.
• Update Lighting for Better Vision
Be sure your bathroom lighting is sufficient to make surfaces easy to see without casting shadows. This is especially important if your bathroom doesn’t have a window. Add nightlights for easy navigation any time of day.
Fall Prevention Near Windows
National Window Safety Week is celebrated every April, but we think it deserve attention year-round. While you’re taking care of some fall maintenance putting up holiday decorations, take a look at your windows to make sure they’re operating properly.
Here are some tips to prevent falls near windows:
• Check that Your Locks Work Properly
Your windows should be equipped with window locks that keep the sashes closed securely. Check each lock to make sure it’s engaging properly and isn’t loose or broken. On a double-hung or slider window, locks are usually located along the center rail where the sashes meet. On a casement, awning, or hopper window, the locks are found where the sash meets the window frame.
(Visit our Anatomy of a Window page to learn more about these window parts).
• Use Window Stops for Open Windows
Window stops are found on double-hung and slider windows, usually built into the sash. When popped out, the stops prevent the window from opening more than a few inches. This allows you to have the breeze of an open window, without the risk of someone or something falling through the window.
• Fully Engage Window Latches After Cleaning
Tilt-in windows feature latches that disengage the sash from the frame so it can be tilted into the room for easy cleaning. When you push the sash back into place, make sure the latches fully engage to secure the sash in place. A loose sash creates an opportunity for an open window where you didn’t intend one.
• Equip Second-Story Windows with Ladders
In the case of an emergency, you may need to use your windows to get out of the house quickly. Keep a safety ladder on-hand in every upstairs bedroom to make climbing out of the window easier and safer. Some models can also be built into the floor.
!! IMPORTANT !! Window screens are NOT safety features, and are not intended as a fall prevention device. Please use safety stops and monitor children when playing near windows.
More Fall Prevention Tips Around the House
In addition to these important bath and window fall prevention tips, AARP has some suggestions for reducing the risk of falls at home:
- Declutter and keep pathways clear to prevent trip hazards. This includes removing stacks of items that might tip over, and unnecessary furniture that makes navigation tricky.
- Fix uneven surfaces, such as thresholds, places where flooring materials change, or any uneven.
- Add railings along stairways and steps both inside and outside the home. Consider adding ramps instead of steps at entryways.
- Stay fit and active to help improve balance and combat age-related muscle weakness.
The Improveit Home Remodeling team is happy to help with bath remodeling and window replacement updates that improve your home’s safety. Call us today to learn more about your options for staying safe at home!