September is National Falls Prevention Month and across the United States councils are promoting methods for preventing slips, trips, and falls, which are the leading cause of injury to people over the age of 65. Falls can occur anywhere and to anyone of any age. Most are preventable by making good decisions and being aware of our surroundings.
Ironically, the Gelley family was reminded of these facts the whole first week of September, after both myself and my husband incurred preventable injuries from separate falls that left us with painful sprained muscles. We are not 65. We are not even 65 with our number of birthdays combined. We just had accidents while going about our normal lives. My sprain happened while playing on the playground with our daughter. His happened while stepping off a tractor doing diagnostics. Fortunately, with adequate rest and gentle muscle movements, we should both be our normal selves again by October.
My family told me, “That’s what happens when you get old.”
It is a common mindset that falls are just a part of life and something that happens as we age but normalizing that mindset can be dangerous. We shouldn’t gloss over the steps we can and should take on a regular basis to prevent slips, trips, and falls around the home, farm, and work environment. Even falls with minor injury can cause a person to become fearful of normal activities or depressed with their perceived capabilities.
Dee Jepsen, an Associate Professor and the State Safety Leader of Agricultural Safety and Health for OSU, has addressed these risks specifically for agriculture in an OSU fact sheet called “Slips, Trips and Falls” available on https://ohioline.osu.edu. Some of the key takeaways from this fact sheet are:
“Work around the farm or in the garden often requires exposure to varied terrain, heights, uneven and slippery surfaces, uneven footing, and frequently changing environments. This combination of exposure can lead to injuries related to slips, trips, and falls resulting in head and back injuries, broken bones, cuts and lacerations, or sprained muscles, to name a few. Fortunately, many of these injuries and their causes can be eliminated with planning and work environment awareness.”
General tips for prevention include:
- Be aware of your environment, personal safety and the safety of others, and make adjustments to work methods.
- Do not run, even if in a hurry.
- Avoid rapid changes of direction.
- Maintain floors, pathways and walking surfaces (keep them clean, dry and free from clutter).
- Install nonslip surfaces in processing areas or areas prone to wetness.
- Wear shoes with pliable soles and low heels.
- Close drawers, cabinets, doors and closets after use.
Talk with your family and farm laborers about maintaining safe spaces and the “three-point rule” for climbing and descending from equipment and structures. The three-point rule is that three of four points of contact should be maintained with the equipment/structure at all times. This means, two hands and one foot, or both feet and one hand. This system allows maximum stability and support, reducing the likelihood of slipping and falling.
If you or a loved one have concerns with chronic fears of falling or frequent stability or balance issues, talk with your family physician about what you can do to evaluate your individual risk related to eyesight, hearing, body strength, current medications, and improvements in the living and work space.
Reminder: All Noble County Extension Staff are working regular business hours via telecommuting, with the office open for business and rotationally staffed BY APPOINTMENT ONLY on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 740-732-5681 to schedule an appointment.
Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Expanded and Deadline Extended: The deadline to apply for payments through CFAP has been extended to September 11, 2020. Contact the Farm Service Agency to apply. The telephone line to field common questions is: 877-508-8364. A full list of eligible commodities and application instructions are available online at: www.farmers.gov/CFAP
A DAY in the WOODS On September 11th, a virtual version of the scheduled A DAY in the WOODS program will be offered via Zoom on forest and wildlife history and future challenges. This program will focus on the only constant in nature, change. Our wonderful lineup of panelists will discuss the history, changes, and challenges of Ohio’s forests and wildlife. Cotton Randall of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources-Division of Forestry will present on change in age, structure, and composition of Ohio’s forests. Mark Wiley of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources-Division of Wildlife will present on trends in land use change and influence on Ohio’s wildlife populations. Registration is free and online at: https://u.osu.edu/apsley.1/2020/08/26/forest-and-wildlife-history-and-future-challenges/
Virtual Farm Science Review: Farm Science Review will come to you on your laptop or smartphone this year, and for free, you can watch livestreamed talks and recorded videos featuring the latest farm equipment and research to pique your curiosity. From Sept. 22–24, people from across the Midwest and the world can learn tips for increasing farm profits and growing crops from soybeans to hemp. This year’s show will include online field demonstrations that will show how various types of farm equipment boost the efficiency of fertilizing, harvesting a field, or performing other tasks. Viewers can catch a close-up view of the machinery. The website to bookmark and visit is: https://fsr.osu.edu
Published first by The Journal-Leader.
By Christine Gelley
Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator