Falls are linked to death and injury in all age groups, but older adults are particularly vulnerable. Falls are the leading cause of unintentional injury death for men and women aged 65 and older in Massachusetts and account for nearly one-third of unintentional injury deaths for this population. Risk factors include

  • increasing age
  • decreased activity and strength
  • poor balance
  • impaired vision
  • osteoporosis
  • dementia
  • multiple medications
  • illnesses

In addition to a decrease in physical functioning, falls among the elderly can impact mental well being by producing feelings of social isolation, depression, and helplessness.

However, most falls are preventable! Many of these falls can be prevented by making changes in the physical environment such as

  • reducing household hazards
  • making lifestyle changes such as getting more exercise to improve balance and strength
  • having regular health screenings like eye exams

For more information on falls among older adults, call 1-800-227-SAFE.

The causes of falls in children vary depending on age and developmental ability. Very young children are likely to fall from nursery room equipment or baby walkers. Toddlers and preschool children most often fall from windows and balconies. Older children tend to fall from playground equipment and while involved in sports and other recreational activities. Adult supervision and changes in the home can prevent many of these injuries. For more information on falls among children, call 1-800-227-SAFE.

Prevention Tips

Fall Prevention for Older Adults

  • Stay active
  • Have regular eye exams
  • Keep clutter out of your home
  • Use proper footwear

Fall Prevention for Babies and Young Children

  • Never leave babies alone on any furniture, including beds, cribs, sofas, tables, and changing tables with the guardrails down. Instead, put them on the floor or in a crib with secured guardrails.
  • Install gates at the top and bottom of stairs until children can climb up and down safely.
  • As babies get older and learn to sit and pull up to a standing position, lower the mattress in the crib.
  • Modify slippery surfaces and remove hazards whenever possible.
  • Secure area rugs and throw rugs by using a nonskid backing
  • Choose play equipment that is safe for young children, such as equipment that keeps children low to the ground.

Tips to Prevent Window Falls

  • Watch children closely.
  • Keep all closed windows locked.
  • Move all furniture, including beds, away from windows.
  • Open windows from the top, not the bottom, if you can.
  • Screens do not protect children from falling out of windows. They just let the air in and keep bugs out.
  • Put window guards in your windows. Only the quick-release type of window guard is permitted.
  • You can buy quick-release type window guards in most hardware stores.

Kids Can't Fly: Window Safety and Prevention Tips for Families with Young Children (PDF) pdf format of window-safety-kids-cant-fly.pdf
doc format of                             window-safety-kids-cant-fly.doc

Massachusetts Fall Statistics

  • Falls are the 3 rd leading cause of injury death in MA and the leading cause of injury-related hospital stays and emergency dept. visits.
  • In 2006 there were 424 fall-related deaths and in FY 2006 there was a combined total of 203,818 inpatients hospitalizations, outpatients observation stays and emergency department visits for non-fatal fall-related injures among Massachusetts residents.
  • In 2006 approximately 80% of fall fatalities were among residents 65 years and older. Among residents 65 years and older, fall fatality rates increase exponentially with age.
  • Falls are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) in Massachusetts. Residents ages 65 and older have the highest rates of TBI-related death and inpatient hospitalization; infants less than one year have the highest rate of TBI-related emergency department visits.

Related Links

For More Information

To learn more about preventing falls, call 1-800-227-SAFE.

This information is provided by the Injury Prevention and Control Program within the Department of Public Health.