Check for Safety: A Home Fall
Prevention Checklist for Older Adults
FALLS AT HOME
Each year, thousands of older
Americans fall at home. Many
of them are seriously injured,
and some are disabled. In 2002,
more than 12,800 people over
age 65 died and 1.6 million were
treated in emergency departments
because of falls.
Falls are often due to hazards
that are easy to overlook but
easy to fix. This checklist will help
you find and fix those hazards in
The checklist asks about hazards
found in each room of your home.
For each hazard, the checklist
tells you how to fix the problem.
At the end of the checklist, youíll
find other tips for preventing falls.
FLOORS: Look at the
floor in each room.
Q: When you walk through a
room, do you have to walk
Ask someone to move the furniture
so your path is clear.
Q: Do you have throw rugs on
Remove the rugs or use double-sided
tape or a non-slip backing
so the rugs wonít slip.
Q: Are there papers, books,
towels, shoes, magazines,
boxes, blankets, or other
objects on the floor?
Pick up things that are on the floor.
Always keep objects off the floor.
Q: Do you have to walk over or
around wires or cords (like lamp,
telephone, or extension cords)?
Coil or tape cords and wires next to
the wall so you canít trip over them.
If needed, have an electrician put in
STAIRS AND STEPS:
Look at the stairs you use both inside and outside your home.
Q: Are there papers, shoes, books,
or other objects on the stairs?
Pick up things on the stairs. Always
keep objects off stairs.
Q: Are some steps broken
Fix loose or uneven steps.
Q: Are you missing a light over
Have an electrician put in an overhead
light at the top and bottom
of the stairs.
Q: Do you have only one light
switch for your stairs (only at
the top or at the bottom of
Have an electrician put in a light
switch at the top and bottom of the
stairs. You can get light switches
Q: Has the stairway light bulb
Have a friend or family member
change the light bulb.
Q: Is the carpet on the steps loose
Make sure the carpet is firmly
attached to every step, or remove
the carpet and attach non-slip
rubber treads to the stairs.
Q: Are the handrails loose or
broken? Is there a handrail
on only one side of the stairs?
or put in
are on both
sides of the
are as long
as the stairs.
KITCHEN: Look at your kitchen and eating area.
Q: Are the things you use often
on high shelves?
Move items in your cabinets.
Keep things you use often on the
lower shelves (about waist level).
Q: Is your step stool unsteady?
If you must use a step stool, get
one with a bar to hold on to.
Never use a chair as a step stool.
BATHROOMS: Look at
all your bathrooms.
Q: Is the tub or shower floor
Put a non-slip rubber mat or self-stick
strips on the floor of the tub
Q: Do you need some support
when you get in and out of
the tub or up from the toilet?
Have a carpenter put grab bars
inside the tub and next to the toilet.
BEDROOMS: Look at all your
Q: Is the light near the bed hard
Place a lamp close to the bed
where itís easy to reach.
Q: Is the path from your bed to
the bathroom dark?
Put in a night-light so you can
see where youíre walking. Some
night-lights go on by themselves
Other Things You Can Do to Prevent Falls
Exercise regularly. Exercise makes
you stronger and improves your
balance and coordination.
Have your doctor or pharmacist
look at all the medicines you take,
even over-the-counter medicines. Some medicines can make you
sleepy or dizzy.
Have your vision checked at least
once a year by an eye doctor.
Poor vision can increase your risk
Get up slowly after you sit or
Wear shoes both inside and
outside the house. Avoid going
barefoot or wearing slippers.
Improve the lighting in your home.
Put in brighter light bulbs. Florescent
bulbs are bright and cost less to use.
Itís safest to have uniform lighting
in a room. Add lighting to dark
areas. Hang lightweight curtains
or shades to reduce glare.
Paint a contrasting color on the top
edge of all steps so you can see
the stairs better. For example, use a
light color paint on dark wood.
Other Safety Tips
Keep emergency numbers in
large print near each phone.
Put a phone near the floor in
case you fall and canít get up.
Think about wearing an alarm
device that will bring help in
case you fall and canít get up.