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Slip and Fall Season Is Here Again

Yes, it is slip and fall season again. Snow and ice will cause a few bruises and maybe a broken leg or two. No problem, right? Think again. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 16,000 people die annually from slips, trips, and falls. Only motor vehicle collisions cause more accidental deaths and injuries.

Not surprisingly, people older than 65 make up the largest demographic susceptible to slip fall injuries - they are 33 percent more likely to be injured in falls. The Mayo Clinic has several suggestions for older citizens to help them avoid dangerous slip and fall accidents:

• The first tip is to review with your physician the medications you are taking. Your doctor can look closely at the side effects of medicines and how they interact with each other. Sedatives and antidepressants can make you more likely to lose your balance. Also, discuss with your doctor if you have fallen before. He or she may be able to suggest fall prevention strategies.

• Keep active. Exercise increases strength, balance, flexibility, and coordination.

• Wear sensible shoes. It may be time to trash the flip-flops, high heels, and walking around in your stocking feet. Get some sturdy lace-up shoes with nonskid soles.

• Remove tripping hazards. Secure loose rugs. Use nonskid floor wax and bath mats, and repair loose flooring. Move clutter away from walking areas.

• Light up your house. Place night-lights in your bedroom, bathroom, and hallways. Make sure a lamp is within reach of your bed in case you have to get up at night. Turn on lights before going up or down stairs. Keep flashlights handy in case of a power outage.

• Use assistive devices. Nonslip stair treads, handrails on both sides of stairways, and grab bars for the shower or tub are worthwhile regardless of your age. If you are older, a raised toilet seat and a shower seat make sense. Your doctor may be able to refer you to an occupational therapist who can help you brainstorm other safety measures.

It's interesting how most actionable items are not directly related to snow or ice. Given the tips above, little forethought can save hundreds of Americans from a fractured hip, leg or worse, regardless of the season.