The winter is an excellent opportunity to get outside and engage in different recreational activities. We encourage kids, teens and adults to get outside and stay active! Remember though, the added cold and ice can increase risk in outdoor activities.
Every winter, the accumulation of ice and hard packed snow increases every New Brunswicker’s risk of slips and falls when walking outdoors. According to our Trauma Registry :
- Falls are the leading cause of injury in New Brunswick
- Every year, over 1000 people are seen in an Emergency Department after a fall due to icy surfaces.
- There has been a 40% increase in the number of hospital visits due to slips and falls on ice since 2014.
- The good news is that simple steps can be taken to reduce your risk of falls, such as:
- Avoiding carrying heavy loads which may cause you to lose your balance
- Wearing boots with a thick, non-slip tread to help maintain your footing on slippery surfaces
- Using appropriate walking aids as needed
- Following the advice from the experts – WALK LIKE A PENGUIN!
- The penguin is one animal that has mastered the winter walk. We recommend that you follow their lead to learn how to avoid a fall and possible injuries when walking on icy surfaces. For more information about how to “Walk Like A Penguin”, please click on the links below:
- Walk Like A Penguin Poster for children/youth
- Walk Like A Penguin Poster for adults/seniors
- Walk Like A Penguin Bookmark
- Walk Like A Penguin Stickers
Falls in Older Adults
Every year falls among all ages cost the New Brunswick health-care system $248 million, representing the largest single contributor to the total cost of injury in the province. Everyone is at risk for falls. As we grow older, the risk of injury due to falls increases. From 2010 to 2015, New Brunswick has seen a 26 per cent increase in the number of injured seniors due to falls. Falls among seniors result in approximately 85 per cent of injury-related hospitalizations. Falls among seniors can lead to reduced mobility and independence, as well as increased risk for admission into a nursing home. There are preventative measures seniors and their caregivers can take to help reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls.
By understanding the risks associated with everyday living, we can help prevent injury or minimize the risk of being injured. We encourage everyone to learn more about ways to stay safe in order to remain independent and continue to actively engage in family and community life as long as possible.
For seniors, home is where many injuries occur. Taking simple preventative measures can reduce the risk of injury. Living and maintaining independence are very important for seniors. The Public Health Agency of Canada has developed a Safe Living Guide to provide advice and help seniors maintain their independence as long as possible. The booklet addresses common safety concerns such as:
- Keeping your home safe outside and inside
- Keeping yourself healthy and active
- Keeping track of your medicine
- Keeping safe with safety aids
In order to provide strategies to help lower risk of falls among seniors, the NB Trauma Program has brought the “Finding Balance” program to New Brunswick. This offers New Brunswickers a central location to access online information and resources on falls prevention.
For more information specific to senior falls prevention, please visit www.FindingBalanceNB.ca.
Falls in Kids
Falls is the reason that roughly 2000 kids under the age of 15 will come to the emergency department every year. For kids between the ages of 0 and 9, falls are the most common reason to go to the hospital for an injury. In this age group, falls from furniture or off a bed, falls on stairs, and falls on the playground were the most common reasons to be seen in the emergency department. Falls off of furniture for kids under the age of 9 is the #1 reason for a trip to the emergency department.
A bad fall can mean a broken bone, nasty cuts or lacerations, or even a concussion for your child. It’s important to talk to your kids about safety and help them prevent falls. This will help to keep them safe and out of the emergency department. Below are some quick tips on how to help your child prevent falls.
In younger kids (Ages 0-4)
Preventing falls of furniture…
- Making sure your child understands that a bed is not a trampoline. It’s all fun and games until someone falls off the bed.
- Making sure your child isn’t climbing on tables, chairs or other pieces of furniture. To a young child, your kitchen table might look like a fun climbing challenge, so it’s important to keep a close eye.
Preventing falls on the stairs…
- If your young child is using the stairs, making sure they have someone with them to hold onto.
- Making sure that any stairs in your home are blocked by a secure baby gate, so young kids don’t inadvertently fall or try to navigate the stairs alone.
Preventing falls on the playground…
- It’s important to make sure the equipment your children are playing on is age appropriate. Some equipment is meant for older kids who are better able to navigate more difficult physical challenges. Encourage children to play on equipment that’s meant for them.
- It’s important to make sure that you’re able to keep a close eye on your child. Falls can happen quickly, and it’s important that you’re able to step in if you see a potential hazard. It’s also important to note that playgrounds can be really busy with lots of kids! Making sure that you can always see what they’re up to is important to help protect them from a fall.
In older kids (Ages 5-9)
Preventing falls on furniture…
- Even older kids sometimes think that a bed is a fun place to jump and play around. It’s important to make sure that kids of all ages know that a bed is not a trampoline.
- Sometimes it’s tempting to grab a chair or stool to reach something high up. It’s important to make sure that things your children regularly use are within their reach, so they don’t need to climb on anything to get it.
Preventing falls on the playground…
- It’s important to make sure your kids know to play within their limits. A physical challenge is always a great way for kids to play, but it’s important to make sure they don’t push it too far. To help make sure your kids play safely, ensure they’re playing on age appropriate equipment. Before you head to the playground, talk to your child about playing safely.
- Even for older kids, it’s always a good idea to make sure an adult is present. Falls can happen fast, and having someone there to notice potential risks is important.
Preventing falls on stairs…
- It’s important to make sure trip and fall risks are removed from the stairs in your home. It can be pretty easy to trip over toys, backpacks or clothes.
- Make sure any flights of stairs in your home have a sturdy hand-rail. It’s also important to let your kids know that the hand rail won’t work if they don’t use it!
For Health Care Professionals
Are you a health care professional? NB Trauma has developed Fall Risk Assessment Toolkits that may be useful in helping your patients manage their risk of falling. Click on the links below to access!
This post is also available in: French