Background: Falls are the most common cause of both fatal and nonfatal unintentional injury in the home environment. This research describes the prevalence of fall-related risk and protective factors in U.S. homes.
Methods: A random-digit-dial survey was conducted of 1003 households in the continental United States to estimate the prevalence of risk and protective factors for falls in homes. Data were weighted to reflect the national distribution of households.
Results: Fall hazards such as stairs with four or more steps (70%), absence of railings on stairs (34%), and use of ladders (60%) are common in many households. Use of grab bars and handrails in the bathroom was low, as was the presence of guards and locks on windows (both 25%). However, households with young children and older adults reported greater use of appropriate antifall devices. Sixty-five percent of households with children aged </=2 years reported using safety gates on stairs. Higher household income and owner-occupied (as opposed to rental) homes had an increased prevalence of fall hazards (more stairs without railings, greater use of ladders).
Conclusions: Considerable opportunity exists for increased use of antifall protective devices and reduction of fall hazards.