Having worked for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin for more than a decade in different areas of health education and prevention, I remember being surprised to learn that, of all of the ways children are injured, falls are the most common cause. Every year, tragically, falls lead to urgent care and emergency room visits, hospitalizations and even death. But when you think about it, falls, trips and slips can easily happen every day.
It sounds so simple, but if you are a busy parent with kids like I am, you know that keeping things clean at home can sometimes feel next to impossible — especially during seasons like winter, when we spend a lot of time indoors. Clutter, slippery floors and other tripping hazards can cause serious injury.
Tips for reducing falls in your home
Messy bedrooms are often a battleground between parent and child. It’s a cliché but, “everything has a place and everything in its place,” is a great rule to live by when it comes to a clutter-free bedroom.
- A clean floor significantly reduces the risk for trips and falls.
- Throw away toys that are broken and give away toys that get little use.
- With the help of your child, develop a system for storing clothing and toys that is easy
for them to stick with.
- Basket and bin organizers are a simple way to keep belongings in order and off the floor.
Bathrooms are full of falling hazards — especially slippery when wet.
- Get a grip on slips by installing grab bars in the tub and shower. Also, use non-slip mats or grip strips to prevent slipping and sliding in the shower.
- Dry off before stepping out. It might seem like common sense, but make sure your child is in the habit of drying off completely before stepping out of the shower.
- Bathroom floors are slick when wet, so always put a bath mat or rug down for traction.
- Talk to your kids about the importance of leaving the floor dry for the next person — before they leave the bathroom.
Common areas of the home tend to accumulate clutter quickly. Make an effort as a family to keep the clutter at bay by cleaning as you go, and take responsibility for your own mess.
- Tidy living rooms, hallways and stairways daily to ensure they are free of potential tripping hazards.
- Create a designated area for shoes, coats and backpacks. Have children place their belongings in this space right when they walk through the door.
- Try not to leave laundry baskets at the bottom of the stairs or laptop cords stretched across the room.
Video games, televisions and computers are popular ways kids pass time when bad weather strikes, but cords and cables can be a major tripping hazard.
- Secure wires and cords along the wall whenever possible.
- If, for whatever reason, a cord cannot be near a wall, secure it with a cable cover.
- Assign a place for kids to stash controllers and other accessories when game time is over.
Be a role model
It’s hard to ask your kids to keep things clutter free if you leave a trail behind you. Your child is far more likely to listen when you tell them not to leave their belongings lying around if you keep your things neatly in place as well.
The Kohl’s Cares Grow Safe & Healthy Program offers lots of free safety tips for your family to learn and talk about together. Download our new tip sheet that helps you teach your kids about how reducing clutter at home can help keep everyone in your family safe from falls.
– LaKesha Knighten, community education supervisor, Kohl’s Cares Grow Safe & Healthy Program, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
The Kohl’s Cares Grow Safe & Healthy Program, a partnership between Kohl’s Cares and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, provides valuable safety information for children, parents and caregivers. For more information, visit KohlsSafeandHealthy.com.