Consumer Reports: How to avoid tripping and falling

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Every year, one in four older adults fall. About 20 percent of those that fall are seriously injured. (WLS)

Every year, one in four older adults fall. About 20 percent of those that fall are seriously injured. But Consumer Reports has some simple fixes, to help keep you from tripping up.

As a former physical education teacher, Howie Weiss knows the importance of staying in shape. At 72, he balances that with the realities of aging. He has already made changes in some habits to prevent a fall at home.

"Rather than picking up the laundry basket in two hands and walking down not holding on, I take the laundry basket and I walk, holding on, backwards and pull it down the stairs one step at a time," Weiss said.

His concerns about falling are real. The CDC said falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries among older adults. But experts at Consumer Reports said many falls are preventable -- by making a few easy changes around your house.

"Start by arranging the furniture so that it's not blocking any of the pathways that you typically use to walk around your home," said Dan DiClerico, Consumer Reports.
For example, take a look at the path from your bed to the door of your bedroom. If there's something in the way, move it. Next, find a place for things like pet bowls and electrical cords along the walls and get piles of papers off the ground.

"You're basically taking a good look around and moving anything at all that somebody might trip over," DiClerico said.

Get rid of throw rugs, which can skid, or keep them in place with carpet tacks or double sided carpet tape. Wall-to-wall carpeting is really your safest bet.

Finally, in the bathroom, put a rubber mat or non-slip strips in the tub and install grab bars. As Howie Weiss knows firsthand, a few little changes can go a long way.

Poor lighting can also increase your risk of falling. Consumer Reports suggests placing a lamp within easy reach of your bed and putting night lights in the bathroom, hallways and kitchen.

Good lighting on stairs is particularly important. Install light switches at both the top and bottom of stairs. Finally, keep a flashlight handy, in case of a power outage.

All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2017. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not for profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org
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