Home safety remains hot concern

AFMA provides tips through Fire Corps

Posted 9/2/20

September is stop falls month for the Arizona Falls Prevention Coalition, 150 N. 18th Avenue, Phoenix, and the mission is to prevent falls and injuries suffered by seniors.

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Home safety remains hot concern

AFMA provides tips through Fire Corps


September is stop falls month for the Arizona Falls Prevention Coalition, 150 N. 18th Avenue, Phoenix, and the mission is to prevent falls and injuries suffered by seniors.

The Arizona Fire & Medical Authority, 18818 N. Spanish Garden Blvd, understands the importance of keeping the Sun City West community safe, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, people are spending more time than ever at home. That means it is important residents know the hazards that exist inside the home as well as how to respond to incidents. Authority personnel in 2019 responded to 2,627 fall incidents in Sun City West, according to EMS Manager Chris Barden.

“As we age, fall injuries can become one of the leading causes of injury amongst older adults,” AFMA Deputy Chief Eric Kriwer said. “Impacts from medication use, various health conditions, like poor eyesight, dizziness, numbness in the lower extremities and joint pain can all lead to a higher probability of being injured in a fall.”

Authority officials also explained the dangers pets pose, saying someone can become distracted and that can lead to a potential fall. Mr. Kriwer said pets often will follow owners and can react excitedly to a knock on the door, which can lead to a fall and injury by the owner.

“There are many ways to limit trips and falls in your home. AFMA recommends various actions for our community members to consider that limit their exposure to a potential fall in their homes,” Mr. Kriwer said.

A few safety tips include making sure to take medications that may inhibit cognitive-motor skills as directed, assure rugs are secured flat on the floor and not a trip hazard, place all pet beds and toys out of the walking path and make sure all grab bars are secured appropriately.

Knowing what to do in the event of a fall is important for the safety of all involved. Mr. Kriwer said in the event of witnessing someone fall, there are things to do to limit injury.

“Initially, have the person who fell remain in place and limit any movement. It is crucial to call 911 early in these scenarios and get responders en route to help. You can ask verbally if the person is okay and if anything hurts,” he explained.

Mr. Kriwer said these questions can give the caller a sense of the person who has fallen and if they can respond appropriately verbally, and there isn’t anything more serious distressing them. Additionally, he said AFMA personnel will determine through a patient assessment if the fall injury is a simple lift-assist or an underlying condition that needs medical attention and transport to a hospital.

Other safety precautions also are necessary, including smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Mr. Kriwer said firefighters are often met at fires in residential homes with families who have escaped danger after being alerted by a properly functioning smoke detector.

“Smoke detectors are part of the building code requirements in your home. Homes built before 1993 may only have one smoke detector in the hallway of the sleeping area, whereas post 1993 NFPA 72 required smoke detectors added in all bedrooms. Depending on when your home was built, residents will see both scenarios in Sun City West,” Mr. Kriwer said.

AFMA officials recommend if there’s only one smoke detector in the home, contact an electrician and bring the system up to current code standards. They also recommend if existing smoke alarms are more than 10 years old, replace all the detectors in the home.

Mr. Kriwer said fire extinguishers are a valuable tool to put out a fire before it grows quickly out of control. He explained extinguishers should be stored in an easily accessible location and away from probable fire start locations, such as the kitchen, garage and laundry room.

“The arrow at the top of the extinguisher should show in the green charged position and checked monthly for readiness,” he said.

Long-term health and welfare of the community is also dependent on medication administration. Mr. Kriwer said using medication in proper doses and as directed can limit medical emergencies. Authority officials recommend the use of a pill organizer used in a weekly or two-week method.

According to the Arizona Falls Prevention Coalition, in Arizona unintentional falls were the leading cause of injury-related mortality in residents 65 and older, on average accounting for two deaths every day.

The National Council on Aging lists common factors that lead to a fall, including balance and gait, vision, medications, environment and chronic conditions. Six steps listed on the organization’s website include enlist older loved ones support, discuss current health conditions, ask about date of the last eye checkup, notice behavior of holding on to walls or furniture and have difficulty walking, talk about medications and do a walk-through for a safety assessment of the home.

There is a free falls check-up to assess individual’s risk at azdhs.gov/prevention/tobacco-chronic-disease/healthy-aging/falls-prevention/index.php.

For information, contact AFMA Community Risk Management at 623-544-5452.

Reporter Jennifer Jimenez can be reached at jjimenez@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter @SCW_Independent.