Accidents are a major cause of injury, disability and death, particularly among young children and older people. In England, accidents are responsible for 10,000 deaths a year. Accidents have a significant impact on society both emotionally and financially. The following factors have been proven to have an affect on accident rates:
- Gender - statistically males have more accidents than females.
- Environmental hazards - such as poorly maintained housing
- Social deprivation - such as homelessness and poor health
- Physical and mental health - depression and stress can increase the risk of accidents
- Alcohol and Drugs - is a factor in 20% - 30% of all accidents
- Seasonal variations
- Human behaviour - an individual's attitude toward risk and safety is a major contributor of accident rates.
Older people are at particular risk of death and disability from falls on stairs or steps. Over 3,000 people over the age of 65 years are killed annually in falls.
As a part of their 'Avoiding slips, trips and broken hips' campaign, the Department of Trade and Industry issued the following guidelines to reduce the risks of falls.
These simple steps can prevent pain and injury caused by falls
- Keep physically active.
- Weak muscles and poor balance can cause someone to fall. Regular exercise such as brisk walking or light gardening can improve these conditions.
- Take fewer risks in your routine.
- When getting out of bed or up from a chair, take your time. It is a good idea to do it in slow stages, so as not to become light-headed.
- Be aware of changes in your health.
- Have regular eye tests and foot care. If you are taking more than four medications, ask your GP to review them on a regular basis. Let a friend or neighbour know if you are feeling unwell.
- Eat a balanced and healthy diet.
- Ensure that you get enough calcium and vitamin D to keep your bones strong and reduce the risk of fracture. Choose low-fat versions of calcium rich foods, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt.
- Avoid wearing loose-fitting or open-backed shoes and shoes with heels that may cause you to slip or trip.
- Take precautions in the home
- Simple modifications in your home can help reduce accidents.
- Light up your stairs
- Take care when carrying things up and down stairs
- Take care when cleaning
- Keep stairs and landings free of clutter
- See your stairs, wear glasses if necessary.
- Consider your carpet
- More haste - less speed
- Stay steady
- Hold the handrail
- Keep using the stairs. Exercise helps to maintain muscle strength, balance and co-ordination.
- Try not to panic!
- If you feel pain, try to attract attention before moving.
- If you can not get help, try getting to a chair and sit on it before standing.
- If you can not get up, try to keep warm by covering yourself with something nearby. Tense your leg regularly to produce heat.
- Try to contact a neighbour or relative by banging on a wall or by phoning if possible.
- Inform your GP after a fall.