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Preventing Falls in the First Place is the Best Medicine


September 29, 2014

Falls are the leading cause of accidental deaths among people over the age of 75 and the second leading cause for those aged 45 to 75, according to the National Safety Council. We've posted those and other statistics here before. But there are ways to mitigate dangers in the home. Funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Virginia Tech is hard at work looking for the causes of falls as well as ways to prevent them.

For instance, here are some stairway safety tips from Virginia Tech's Website:
  1. Install handrails on both sides of the stairs and extend them one foot beyond the last step at both top and bottom; position top of the railing at elbow height of the homeowner.
  2. Use handrails that allow the homeowner to use a "powergrip" — to encircle their thumb and fingers around it — and allow hand clearance between the handrail and the wall.
  3. Use a different color contrast to mark the first and last step.
  4. Limit stair rise to seven inches; make tread at least 11 inches.
  5. Use incline risers with 15-degree angles.
  6. Remove thick (3/8 inch or thicker) carpets and underpads on treads.
  7. Make sure stair height and tread widths are adequate, and each step is identical in size.
  8. Install a second handrail if the stairs are wide enough.
  9. Install light switches at the top and bottom of stairs.
  10. Be sure carpeting is tightly woven and installed so it doesn't move or slide.
For more information visit http://www.research.vt.edu/resmag/sc2003/whyfall.htm

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