The Chief’s Corner

By Robert W. Seltzer, BSEE, EFO, MPA Chief Smithfield Fire Dept.

Happy New Year from the men and women of the Smithfield Fire Department! The fire department started this year with a reorganization which will modernize and make our organization more efficient, moving from an organizational structure that was put in place almost 30 years ago to a more modern organizational structure that better meets today’s emergency services needs of the Town of Smithfield. I will report on our progress in a future column.

As promised last month, this month’s column will focus on fall prevention for the older population.

Fall prevention is very important for people of all ages, but especially important for the elderly population as our rescue crews frequently respond to emergencies involving falls of elderly members of our community and typically they are the result of two circumstances.

The first circumstance is mobility and balance issues. The elderly tend to have more mobility and balance issues due to medical problems or natural deterioration of their senses as they get older. The second circumstance is trip hazards found around the house and around the property owned by the elderly.

So here are some fall prevention tips that we should all be aware of.

Fall Message #1: Exercise Regularly

Exercise builds strength and improves your coordination and balance.
Tai Chi is an exercise that has been proven to help reduce fall risk.
Ask your doctor about the best physical exercise for you.

Fall Message #2: Take your time

Get out of chairs slowly.
Sit a moment before you get out of your bed.
Stand and get your balance before you walk.
Be aware of your surroundings.

Fall Message #3: Keep walking areas and stairs clear

Be sure to remove:

Remove electrical cords, shoes, clothing, books & magazines and any other clutter.

Fall Message #4: Improve the lighting around your home

Use night lights to light the path between your bedroom and bathroom.
Turn on the lights before using the stairs.
See an eye specialist once a year.

Fall Message #5: Use non-slip mats in the bathtub

Use non-slip mats on shower floors.
Have grab bars installed on the wall in the tub and shower and next to the toilet.
Wipe up spills immediately.

Fall Message #6: Be aware of uneven surfaces around the home

Throw rugs must have rubber, non-skid backing.
Smooth out wrinkles and folds in carpeting.
Be aware of uneven sidewalks and pavement outdoors.
Ask a friend to clear ice and snow from stairs and walkways.
Use handrails when available.

Fall Message #7: Stairways should be well lit

Stairways should be well lit from both top and bottom.
Have easy-to-grip handrails installed along the full length of both sides of the stairs.

Fall Message #8: Wear sturdy, well-fitting shoes

Low-heeled shoes with non-slip soles are the best.
These are safer than high heels, thick-soled athletic shoes, slippers, or stocking feet.

Don’t forget, the Smithfield Fire Department is on Twitter. Follow us @SmithfieldFIRE for more safety tips.