A fall is defined as an 'event which results in a person coming to rest inadvertently on the ground or floor or other lower level' (World Health Organisation, October 2012)
What if I fall?
No one wants to have a fall, but you can plan ahead in case you do have one. There are some simple points to remember for any fall.
The first thing to remember is not to panic. Although you may feel shocked, try to stay calm and assess the situation. There are two plans that you can follow:
- If you think you may be hurt or can't get up without help, follow the Rest and Wait Plan.
- If you are not hurt, follow the Up and About Plan.
Rest and Wait Plan
- Call for help - use an alarm if you have one, or try to attract your neighbour's attention by banging on the wall or floor, or shouting. If you can, use a mobile phone or crawl to a telephone and call 999.
- Move to a soft surface - if you land on a hard surface like a kitchen or bathroom floor, try to move to a place with carpet to prevent damage to your skin from the hard surface. You are also likely to be warmer on a soft surface.
- Keep warm - try to reach for a duvet cover, blanket or clothing which is nearby in order to keep yourself warm while you wait for help to arrive. If you can, move out of any area where there is a draft.
- Keep moving - if you lie in one position for too long you may become stiff, sore and cold. Try to rock gently from side to side, but if you have hurt yourself then keep the injured area still. Keep moving to stay focused until help comes.
Up and About Plan
- Every person is different and so the best way to get up off the floor after a fall will be slightly different for everyone.
- It is a good idea to practice how you could get up after a fall in your home, in different rooms so that you are more confident about what to do if you do fall. This will help you decide which pieces of furniture you could use to help yourself up.
- When somebody is with you, try different ways to get up. Or you could join an exercise class that practices ways to get up from the floor and other floor exercises.
- If you do fall, the most important thing is to check that you are not injured, and that you are feeling well enough to get up.
Staying up and about - Whatever your age, there are many things that you can do to reduce the risk of falling. This short booklet has useful information to help you to look after your health, stay active and what to do if you have a fall.