Falls account for approximately 13% of Emergency Room visits in the United States. Risk factors for falling include age, poor vision, chronic conditions, fear of falling and use of multiple medications. Winter is fast approaching and so are the risks of falls with our unpredictable weather in Iowa. It is important to take extra precautions to prevent falls and your risk for injury. Here are some tips for preventing falls this Iowa winter:
- Plan ahead: Allow enough time to get where you are going.
- Exercise Caution: Especially when you are getting in and out of vehicles. Hold securely to a door or a person.
- Ask for help: Ask someone to help you navigate slipper or unsafe paths.
- Footwear: Wear shoes with good traction.
- Dress Warm: If you are warm, your muscles stay relaxed. Tense muscles can affect your balance.
- Keep your driveway and walkways clear: Ask for assistance or pay someone if necessary.
- Concentrate: Keep an eye on the path ahead and avoid distractions.
If a fall does occur it is important to take steps to minimize risk for further injury. Don’t get up right away after the fall, take your time and assess how you are feeling. After assessing your injury, attempt to roll to one side and utilize your arms and legs to stand up. Utilize your cell phone or medical alert device if you need assistance getting up. Dial 911 if the fall leads to an emergency for immediate medical help.
Carly Schwartz MSN, FNP-C