This article provides a list of helpful tips to prevent injuries from falling:
Here are some tips from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the National Athletic Trainers’ Association to help prevent injuries from falls.
Keep muscles and bones strong, by following an exercise regimen:
- Strength training with weight bearing and resistive exercise works for all age groups.
- Practice exercises designed to help improve balance.
- Exercise at least three days a week to improve strength, flexibility and balance.
- Choose low-impact exercises, such as yoga, tai chi and Pilates to avoid stress on joints.
- Stretch daily to improve flexibility and mobility.
- Good lighting, without extension cords, to eliminate dark areas.
- Slip-resistant walking surfaces.
- Grab-bars and a night light in the bathroom.
- Handrails on both sides of stairs extending one foot beyond last step.
- Remove throw rugs from doorways and hallways.
- Consider a full physical evaluation and balance screen, including vision and hearing tests.
- Wear shoes with good support, such as lace-up oxford shoes with leather soles and rubber heels.
What's more, "The actual number is probably much larger. We believe most stair incidents are not reported". This is a scandal ! Stairs are demonstrably dangerous. So much so that they are the second largest cause of unintended injuries in the United States. When will we see national campaigns about stair safety, advocacy of helmets and special safety clothing for use of stairs ?
Why are Stannah stair lifts only marketed to the elderly ?
Wait, though. Stairs are only the second largest cause of unintended injuries. What's the largest cause ? You'll probably not be surprised to hear that Motor vehicles are actually the largest cause of unintended injuries. Perhaps we should be putting our efforts on safety there.
And it gets worse. If you look not just "unintended injuries" but at "preventable causes of death" for the USA, the picture changes again. Now the 43000 deaths per year due to Traffic Collisions looks a little less significant as there are five other greater preventable causes of death. However, up there in the number two position, are 112000 deaths per year due to "overweight and obesity".
With this, cycling comes into the picture again. If the population can be convinced to take regular daily exercise as a part of their everyday lives, there is a very good chance of reducing that enormous death toll. If these people cycle instead of drive, they not only will reduce their chance of being one of 112000 dying each year due to being overweight or obese, they'll also reduce their chance of having anything to do with the 43000 deaths due to motor vehicles.
By comparison, the 716 deaths of cyclists now look a bit less significant. So why are cyclists the focus of so much "safety" campaigning ? In any case, helmets can only do so much. Of those 716 cyclists who lost their lives on American roads in 2009, only some will have died due to a head injury. Of those who died due to a head injury, only some won't have been wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. And of the non-helmet wearing cyclists who died of head injuries amongst the 716, only some might have had their lives saved by wearing a helmet. The potential gain to society by scaremongering over bicycle helmets is small. By comparison, the potential gain by encouraging people out of cars and onto bikes is enormous. Also the potential gain by re-arranging the streets to resemble those of the Netherlands is also enormous. Dutch cyclists are the safest in the world, with a death rate per km cycled 5x lower and an injury rate 27x lower than in the US, even though helmets are very rarely seen except on sport cyclists.
Note that because many of the other preventable causes of death catch up with us only as we get older, if you're an American aged between 1 and 44, the most likely preventable cause of death for you is a motor vehicle crash. For children aged between 9 and 18, it is the most common preventable cause of death worldwide.
If you want to make children safer, and cyclists safer too, then don't campaign for cycle helmets, or for improvements in stair safety either. The thing to do is to copy what has been done in the Netherlands. In particular, this campaign, and always keep an eye on the need for a high degree of subjective safety.
At present, there is a "wrong headed" attempt to make cycle helmets compulsory in Northern Ireland. The last day to sign a petition against this is today.
Update a bit later in the day: Some people in the comments are getting a bit too interested in exact statistics for how dangerous stairs are. Actually, this isn't really the point. The point is that there are many things more dangerous than cycling, however you count them. This post is about keeping a sense of perspective about different risks. There is simply too much scaremongering about cycling.
Note that exercise is listed as one of the things that improves your chances when climbing stairs. Cycling is also low impact exercise, so ride a bike and you're safer there too. In the photo at the top, Judy risks climbing the stairs of a local lookout tower - without wearing a helmet. I'll end on a serious note: Hold the rail when you walk on stairs. It might save your life.