Useful tips for preventing falls

Most falls happen at home, in the garden or during leisure activities. According to the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (bfu/bpa), 300,000 people stumble or slip every year in Switzerland. Of these people, 1,100 die as a result, 90% of them older people. The following tips from bfu/bpa will help you recognise and address the risks and get safely through the day.

Doorways, rugs and cables

  • A dirt-trapper mat or rug at the entrance to your home will make sure nobody stumbles on the threshold.
  • Use non-slip underlay to stop rugs and mats sliding, and tape the edges of a carpet down with carpet tape if they start to lift.
  • Tidy up loose cables with cable ties and tubes.

Shower, bathroom and kitchen

  • Non-slip mats or strips will prevent you from slipping.
  • Shower and bath grab handles and rails make your bathroom even safer.
  • Always wipe up spilt liquids immediately.

Getting around

  • Stable, well-fitting shoes with good grips help prevent accidents when it’s wet, snowy or icy outside.

Falls from height

Most falls from a height happen mainly because steps are slippery or people are in a hurry. Take your time, and use a stable ladder even for small jobs.

Safety on the stairs

  • If stair carpets or coverings get damaged, have them repaired immediately.
  • Mark the edge of stairs to make them more visible.
  • Use anti-slip strips or non-slip floor covering to make stairs safer.
  • Get an expert to put up a hand rail on stairways (make sure it complies with Swiss SIA Norm 358)
  • Make sure stairways have good lighting that doesn’t dazzle, and set timers so that the light stays on long enough.
  • Stair rails and banisters should be at least 90 cm high.
  • To stop children slipping through, stair rails must not have an opening of more than 12 cm in diameter for the first 75 cm.

Working at height

  • Use a ladder, even for straightforward jobs. For major jobs you should use scaffolding and call in an expert if possible.
  • Buy a good household ladder with broad, non-slip treads, slip-resistant feet, and a knee-high safety rail above the top platform.
  • Never place a lean-to ladder at too steep or flat an angle: the angle should be around 70 degrees.
  • Open the two sides of a stepladder until the spreader is fully open and in locked position. Never use a stepladder as a lean-to ladder, and get down if you have to change the position of the ladder.