When talking about a fall hazard, we most often find ourselves imagining trip hazards (like loose cords or slippery rugs). But the reality is that hazards can also be environmental, too.
An environmental hazard is something that’s usually non-physical that can enhance your fall risk.
This could be something as simple as a change in the weather, or something that reduces visibility.
Here are some examples of environmental hazards:
- Cold weather can cause stiff muscles. When it’s snowing there’s also a possibility that visibility will be lowered, which can raise our chances of missing a trip hazard as well.
- Hot weather can cause us to sweat, become dehydrated, and in severe heat, lead to disorientation and reduced focus.
- In a smoky environment, we aren’t able to see as well and are more prone to tripping over. Smoke in the eyes can also cause some more medium-term risk, especially if the smoke stings or blurs the eyes.
- Any kind of vapour has the ability to fog up glasses, cause disorientation, and loss of focus.
Once you’re aware of these external elements and their effect on the body, you can then begin to address physical hazards in your environment as well.
Clutter is one of the most common fall hazards in an environment. Although many people define clutter as a messy room, anything that’s generally out-of-place can be a clutter, making it a fall hazard. This could be anything from a pet bed to a handbag, newspaper or bin that’s out of place.
Reducing fall hazards in your environment is a simple ‘audit’ process – go through each room in your home and look at the area:
- Look at everything on the floor and evaluate whether it poses a risk.
- Think about the way you move through your environment – is there anything in the way of your usual ‘path’?
- Pay attention to the location of the lights and light switches – are they in prime locations? Are all lights in working order?
- Is there anything that can be done to address environmental hazards? (Ensure the over-stove vent is working correctly etc.)
Keeping your home hazard-free is the first step towards in-home fall prevention. We recommend re-checking your home for these fall hazards weekly to maintain your safety at home. Think of it as a weekly safety audit!
To help you along with these audits, we’ve created a FREE printable Fall Hazard Checklist.