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Conduct a home safety check to prevent slips, falls

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. _ New research shows that millions of Americans will suffer a serious injury from one of the most preventable home hazards _ slips and falls.

According to the Home Safety Council's State of Home Safety in America report, slips and falls are the leading cause of home injury and related death, with an average of nearly 6,000 deaths and more than 5.1 million nonfatal injuries reported each year.

"The high risk of taking a fall and suffering a serious injury often surprises people," said Home Safety Council president Meri-K Appy. '`As a result, common slipping and tripping hazards that are easy to fix are too frequently overlooked in American households.''

The Home Safety Council study shows that older adults and young children are at greatest risk of serious fall-related injuries at home. Adults over the age of 65 suffer more than 1.5 million nonfatal injuries and 4,700 deaths each year.

The Home Safety Council urges all families to conduct a home safety walk-through to find and fix potential falling hazards at home.

All stairs and steps should be protected with a secure banister or hand-rail on each side that extends the full length of the stairs. Make sure stairwells have a light at the top and bottom of the stairs.

Make sure all porches, hallways and stairwells are well lit. Use the maximum safe wattage in light fixtures. Maximum wattage is typically posted inside light fixtures.

Use nightlights to help light hallways and bathrooms during nighttime hours.

Keep stairs, steps, landings and all floors clear. Reduce clutter and safely tuck away telephone and electrical cords out of walkways.

Carolyn Susman writes for the Palm Beach Post. E-mail:

Cox News Service

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