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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: December 7, 2011


The holiday spirit may lead some adults to climbing trees, scaling ladders and swinging from rafters - and that's just during decorating. Just add ice and electrical cords and a fall can occur at ground level. Delaware's Division of Public Health emphasizes the need to stop and think of safety first before a dangerous fall happens. When it comes to holiday dangers, often small decisions have life-changing consequences.

In 2010, Delaware's Statewide Trauma System Registry included 2,207 Delaware residents who had fall-related injuries serious enough to require hospitalization. Nearly all of these patients were admitted through the emergency department, spending an average of five days in the hospital. The average age of these patients was 62 years, and approximately half of the falls were due to slips, trips, or stumbles. In 2008, 82 percent of fall deaths nationwide were among people age 65 and older. The most common injuries from falls include head trauma, wrist and spine fractures, and broken hips. Some studies show that among persons age 65 and older, women fall more frequently and are treated for fall-related injuries, especially fractures, more often than men. As adults enter into their 70s, 80s, and 90s, fall-related injuries become more severe, frequently leading to permanent disability and death.

Most falls occur in the home, around stairs, bathtubs, furniture and carpeting. It's important to remember that homeowners have a duty to warn visitors of potential risks and to keep the home reasonably free from those risks. Make your home safer by reducing tripping hazards, adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding stair railings and improving the lighting if needed. Simple fixes can provide an inexpensive remedy for common household dangers and prevent a holiday visit to the emergency room.

Recommendations include:

For additional information on how to prevent fall-related injuries visit:

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.