Updated September 2021
Avoid the Leading Cause of Injury for Kids and Seniors
Falls are the leading cause of injury-related visits to the emergency department for individuals over the age of 65. Although frequently associated with age, slips, trips and falls aren’t just reserved for seniors. In fact, falls are also the leading cause of injury for kids ages 0 to 19. Whether you’re accident-prone or take medications that increase your risk for falls, preventive measures are important at any age.
Infants and Toddlers
Little ones are interested in discovering their world, but their curiosity may lead to unsafe adventures. To prevent falls at this age, install locked gates at the top and bottom of stairways. Never leave children unattended on balconies, near open windows or on furniture. For toddlers and young children, install safety rails on beds. Above all, supervision is key, whether at home or at play.
Adolescents and Teens
Even though they may be more coordinated than infants and toddlers, adolescents and teens are prone to falling. Adolescents and teens are most likely to fall during sports or physical activities such as skiing, skateboarding or sports involving skates. Falls are also the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (make sure to look for signs of a concussion after a fall). And because teens are more prone to taking risks as they get older, encourage them to take certain safety precautions, such as keeping personal stereos turned down so they can hear what’s going on around them and wearing a helmet (it may not seem cool but you only have one brain).
Tripping, stumbling or slipping are major causes of falls for adults, so be aware of unsafe surfaces, icy conditions, uneven surfaces and indoor hazards. Alcohol can also be a risk factor for adults ages 20 to 54. One proactive measure is to strengthen your core: Yoga can help improve your balance and stability, which helps prevent falls and injuries.
Environmental factors are especially important for this age group. Remove hazards from the home, paying special attention to clutter, cords and other unsecure surfaces. Provide walking aids, assistive devices in the bathroom, hand rails and a safety evaluation by a professional, adds Carson Becker, OTR/L, CBIS, certified brain injury specialist and occupational therapy coordinator with Northwestern Medicine Rehabilitation Services. Medications may also contribute to falls, particularly anticonvulsants, antidepressants, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, opioids and sedatives.
Here are other ways of deterring falls at any age.