Keeping safe at home

8. Stairs and reducing the risk of falls

Stairs

Falls on stairs and steps can cause injuries, so it is important to make them safe.

  • If carpets or floor coverings are worn or damaged you should replace them.
  • Try to make sure any banisters are sturdy.
  • Consider fitting easy-grip handrails on the walls on both sides of the stairs.
  • Keep stairs free from clutter, and try not to carry too much when using them. If you do have a few things to carry, think about using a large shoulder bag that will keep both hands free.

Reducing the risk of falls

You can reduce your risk of falling by doing strength or balance exercises twice a week. These include sitting, standing and walking exercises, your GP could also refer you to a physiotherapist. Check your home for potential hazards such as rugs, loose or worn carpets, furniture or objects lying around.

The following tips are also worth considering:

  • Make sure your house is well lit, especially in the hall, landing and on the stairs. Use long-life light bulbs. Keep a torch by the bed.
  • Make sure electrical items are close to sockets to avoid trailing wires and flexes along the floor.
  • If you have mobility or back problems, have a letter tray fitted on your front door to collect the post.
  • Be careful when trying to get to something or somewhere that is out of reach. Make sure you have enough support and a secure footing.
  • Stand up slowly when getting up from chairs or out of bed.
  • Have regular eye tests.
  • Avoid wearing clothes that are too long and may cause you to trip up.
  • If your prescribed drugs are making you feel dizzy, keep taking them, but talk to your GP.
  • Patterned carpets can cause perception problems for some people – think about replacing with a plain version.
  • Consider fitting grab rails, especially on the stairs and in the bathroom.

Getting help

Talk to your family and friends about what help they could offer. They may be able to help you to stay safe by checking in on you now and again, or helping you out with things you find difficult – for example, getting things from high shelves or an attic or loft. You could also think about leaving a spare set of keys with a good friend in case someone needs to get in the house.

You could have a key safe fitted to an outside wall instead. This contains a set of house keys and is opened by a code. You can give this code to trusted people (eg carers who visit) so they can get in easily if you need them to.

For other kinds of help, see the ‘Other useful organisations’ section on the next page. It lists organisations that can assist you with staying safe at home, including technology and equipment, different types of engineers, fire safety and Neighbourhood Watch.