Someone who has never experienced a fall down accident might falsely think there's something people can do to prevent such accidents. Unfortunately, most people can't react fast enough to affect what happens to them when they fall. As a result, the only way to prevent serious or even fatal injuries from falls is to make sure such accidents don't happen in the first place.
Preventing all falls is impossible, but there are steps that can be taken to significantly reduce the risk of a falling accident. Employers can follow work safety guidelines and ensure fall protection equipment is used. Property owners can make sure conditions that could result in a fall (like broken railings or uneven tiles) are corrected or consumers are warned about the risks of a fall on property. When property owners do not take reasonable precautions to stop visitors from falling, the owners of the property (and sometimes renters) can be held accountable for resulting injuries.
Can You Prevent Injuries in Fall Down Accidents?
WikiHow has advice on how to prevent injuries when you start to fall. For example, people are advised to simply relax and let themselves go down if they are falling on a safe surface. If the fall is about to occur on rocks or where there is glass, the victim should try to propel himself or herself forward and land on safer ground. People in the process of falling are also advised to try to avoid putting their hands out to catch themselves. While this is a natural instinct, your hands cannot support the full weight of your body when you fall. As a result, if you stick your hands out, you could injure your fingers, your wrist, your arm, or your shoulders.
While this is good advice, most people cannot do anything to avoid a fall once they have started falling. NJ.gov reports people have a misconception they can catch themselves, which could come from seeing people avert serious falls in the movies. In real life, people actually have a reaction time of about half a second once they start to fall. And in half a second, a person can fall four feet.
Because of the force of gravity, a person who has starts to fall will experience a significantly increasing force of impact. For example, a person who weighs 200 pounds and who falls six feet will hit the ground with 10,000 pounds of impact force. That person will fall faster as he goes down. And the only thing that will stop such a forceful fall is hitting the ground or another solid object.
If you start to fall, odds are there's nothing you can do to protect yourself from sustaining a serious injury. That's why it should come as no surprise that the Centers for Disease Control reports falls are a leading cause of traumatic brain injuries, workplace accidents and injuries at home involving people over 65 years old. Falls are also a leading cause of other serious injuries like spinal cord damage and broken bones.