Preventing Falls at Home - dummies

By Carol Levine, AARP

Part of Navigating Your Later Years For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Preventing falls is critical. Falls are not only harmful in themselves but also often lead to declines in independence and function. Most falls happen at home, so that’s where you should start.

Falls are often due to hazards that are easy to overlook but easy to fix. The following tips are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s checklist for preventing falls at home. Use this checklist to help you find and fix those hazards in your (or your loved one’s) home.

The checklist asks about hazards found in each room of the home. For each hazard, the checklist tells you how to fix the problem.


Look at the floor in each room.

Q: When you walk through a room, do you have to walk around furniture?

Ask someone to move the furniture so your path is clear.

Q: Do you have throw rugs on the floor?

Remove the rugs or use double-sided tape or a nonslip backing so the rugs won’t slip.

Q: Are there papers, books, towels, shoes, magazines, boxes, blankets, or other objects on the floor?

Pick up things that are on the floor. Always keep objects off the floor.

Q: Do you have to walk over or around wires or cords (like lamp, telephone, or extension cords)?

Coil or tape cords and wires next to the wall so you can’t trip over them. If needed, have an electrician put in another outlet.

Stairs and steps

Look at the stairs you use both inside and outside your home.

Q: Are there papers, shoes, books, or other objects on the stairs?

Pick up things on the stairs. Always keep objects off stairs.

Q: Are some steps broken or uneven?

Fix loose or uneven steps.

Q: Are you missing a light over the stairway?

Have an electrician put in an overhead light at the top and bottom of the stairs.

Q: Do you have only one light switch for your stairs (only at the top or at the bottom of the stairs)?

Have an electrician put in a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs. You can get light switches that glow.

Q: Has the stairway light bulb burned out?

Have a friend or family member change the light bulb.

Q: Is the carpet on the steps loose or torn?

Make sure the carpet is firmly attached to every step, or remove the carpet and attach nonslip rubber treads to the stairs.

Q: Are the handrails loose or broken? Is there a handrail on only one side of the stairs?

Fix loose handrails or put in new ones. Make sure handrails are on both sides of the stairs and are as long as the stairs.


Look at your kitchen and eating area.

Q: Are the things you use often on high shelves?

Move items in your cabinets. Keep things you use often on the lower shelves (about waist level).

Q: Is your step stool unsteady?

If you must use a step stool, get one with a bar to hold on to. Never use a chair as a step stool.


Look at all your bathrooms.

Q: Is the tub or shower floor slippery?

Put a nonslip rubber mat or self-stick strips on the floor of the tub or shower.

Q: Do you need some support when you get in and out of the tub or up from the toilet?

Have a carpenter put grab bars inside the tub and next to the toilet.


Look at all your bedrooms.

Q: Is the light near the bed hard to reach?

Place a lamp close to the bed where it’s easy to reach.

Q: Is the path from your bed to the bathroom dark?

Put in a night-light so you can see where you’re walking. Some night-lights go on by themselves after dark.