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Slips, Trips and Falls

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Safety Factsheet #

Drowning Research regarding falls

Over the last 10 years 116 people aged 65 years and over drowned in Australia as a result of a fall into water. Over half of these have been in NSW.

37% of these are persons aged 65-74 years, 63% 75 years and over.

Over 64% occur in still waters such as swimming pools and rivers with over 85% occuring at or within 15 mins from the home.

Physical activity is important for the maintenance and improvement of physical, mental and emotional health, particularly in the later years of life when increased quantity of life does not guarantee increased quality. Aquatic activity is low impact, meaning it is suitablefor older people who may have physical limitations and injuries to consider, however, the drowning risk in this demographic is increased by pre-existing medical conditions, medication usage and reduced physical capacity.

Previous research has identified an increasing risk of drowning among older people and noted the high proportion of falls into water in this age group. While unexpected falls into water are a common cause of drowning later in life, physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk of falls and fall-related injuries inolder people, again demonstrating the importance of remaining physically active throughout the lifespan.

View Research into Risk factors for falls into water for Older Australians

Download PDF • 6.07MB

How to prevent falls around the aquatic environment?

First of all it is imp[ortnat to note that slips, trips and falls are preventatble no matter your age. Here are a few key things to help older australians to enjoy the water safely.

  • Maintain physically active

  • Build your balance

  • Strengthen your legs and feet

  • Eat well and maintain a healthy diet

  • Watch out for unstable banks or slippery surfaces

  • Keep a healthy mind

  • Be Swim Ready and speak to your doctor regularly

  • Wear Safe Footwear

  • Always wear a Lifejacket when on the water

What are the chances of you falling?

  1. Do you do less than 30 minutes of physical activity per day?

  2. Do you feel light-headed, dizzy or unsteady when walking or getting up from a chair?

  3. Do you use a walking aid?

  4. Are you taking and prescription medications each day?

  5. Do you do less than two hours of balance and strength activities a week?

  6. Has it been over a year since you have visited your GP?

  7. Have you been consuming alocohol in the last two hours?

  8. Have you spent too much time in the sun?

  9. Do you have any prior leg or foot injuries?

  10. Is your footwear not suitable for the activity you are doing?

If you answer yes to one or more questions you should speak to your GP about how you can reduce the risk of falling.

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