Protect yourself against falls at home this Falls Awareness Week

A person tripping over a loose mat

The Public Health Agency is encouraging people to ensure they are as safe as possible from falls in their homes, as it marks Falls Awareness Week (18-24 September).

Falls are the most common accident for all age groups, especially young children, older people and those with greater social, economic and health disadvantages.

In 2021 there were 290 deaths as a result of falls in Northern Ireland.

Janine Gaston, Interim Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager at the PHA, said: “Falls can have an extremely serious impact on our lives, particularly among older people, as it can impact their independence and they can end up feeling less confident in their own home.

“We know that falls can cause painful injuries and sadly in the most serious cases, they can sometimes be fatal.

“That’s why we’re encouraging people to take some time to make sure they know how best to protect themselves from falls and also for everyone to know how to talk to someone who may need help in avoiding a fall.”

Ten tips to help prevent a fall at home

  1. Get up from your chair or bed slowly to avoid dizziness and use a walking aid if provided.
  2. Only take medication prescribed by your doctor, at the correct dosage. Have your medication reviewed regularly by your doctor or pharmacist.
  3. Keep your stairs clutter free – don’t leave items lying on the stairs that could cause a trip or fall.
  4. Ensure your home is well lit (use high wattage, low energy light bulbs) and always put lights on at night, especially when getting up during the night.
  5. Remove all loose and worn mats.
  6. Avoid trailing leads and wires.
  7. If you use slip-resistant mats in the bath or shower, ensure they are used appropriately, removing them after use to air dry and cleaning the soap suds that can build up and cause a slip.
  8. Mop up any water and spillages as soon as possible.
  9. Have broken or uneven pathways outdoors repaired.
  10. Take extra care when walking on icy pathways and doorsteps.

Simple health checks and actions can also help reduce the risk of falls:

  • Check your eyesight – good vision has a major role in how you maintain your balance. Eye tests are free for everyone over the age of 60.
  • Look after your feet – as you get older, the size and shape of your feet may change so always have your feet measured when buying new shoes. Choose footwear that has a back with a strap, Velcro or preferably laces to secure them tightly. Avoid high heels and slip-ons.
  • Bone health – osteoporosis is known as the silent illness and results in more fragile bones that will break more easily, often following a fall. There are a number of risk factors that can increase your likelihood of developing osteoporosis such as family history, smoking, drinking alcohol, long-term immobility, early menopause, previously fractured bones and certain medical conditions. If you think you might be at risk of this condition you should contact your GP.
  • Exercise and physical activity – activities that improve muscle strength in our legs, arms, back, shoulders and chest are particularly important as we get older. They can make it easier to get up out of a chair, and improve our posture, co-ordination and balance which reduces our risk of falling. Exercise must be performed at least three times a week for effective falls prevention.
  • Free home safety checks and equipment (subject to assessment, eligibility and availability) are available for over 65s and provide an opportunity to help identify risks in the home and provide advice about reducing them. For more information contact the Home Safety Officer at your local council visit
Notes to the editor

The PHA and councils across Northern Ireland have produced a falls prevention video, ‘Stay Steady' to raise awareness of the measures we can take at home to prevent falls. This can be viewed at or you can view the Strength and Balance Exercise booklet at