Avoiding slips, trips and falls

Making practical adjustments to your everyday activities and surroundings can help you feel confident and steadier on your feet.

If you're older and at high risk of falling, you may feel more confident if you wear hip protector pants. These work by cushioning the impact of a fall if you do stumble. You can find more information in the hip protectors factsheet.

Suggestions for staying steady

A combination of good balance, coordination and reflexes goes a long way to reduce your risk of a slip, trip or fall. The good news is there are things you can start doing today, to help yourself stay steady.

The activities you do

  • Staying active is the best way to stay fit, healthy and independent for longer. 
  • Strength and balance exercises can help you feel steadier.
  • Give yourself enough time. When you start to rush, you'll take less care, which increases your chances of tripping.

What you eat and drink

  • Aim to follow a well-balanced diet with protein, starchy foods, vitamins and minerals for energy and stronger muscles.
  • Remember alcohol can make you unsteady and slow down your reactions. 
  • Low vitamin D levels may be a risk factor for falling. If you’re over 65 and are not sure if you’re getting enough vitamin D, consider taking a supplement.

Speak to your doctor about...

  • If you have a medical condition that makes you feel unsteady or dizzy, your doctor may be able to prescribe a medication for the condition, to make you safer.
  • Some medications can cause unsteadiness. If you’re taking a number of tablets, ask your doctor or pharmacist to review them.
  • If you've stumbled and fallen a number of times, ask your doctor or nurse if you can access a specialist falls service locally.

The things you wear

  • Choose shoes and slippers with a patterned tread rather than smooth soles. Avoid loose, backless and high-heeled footwear, which may increase your risk of falling.
  • Avoid clothes that are long and trailing.
  • Keep your glasses clean and hearing aids well maintained.

Suggestions for adapting your home surroundings

These simple measures can reduce your risk of slips, trips and falls at home.

Avoiding slips, trips and stumbles

  • If you have a rug on a polished floor, use a non-slip mat underneath.
  • Move any rugs or mats that you might trip over.
  • Ensure stair carpets are not loose or frayed.
  • Keep walkways clutter free with no trailing wires.
  • Mop up spills immediately using a long-handled mop.
  • Make sure you’re warm enough at home. If your muscles get cold, they won’t work efficiently.

Avoiding situations where you could fall

  • Fit handrails on the stairs, and - if it helps - in the bathroom.
  • Fit a cage over your letterbox so you don’t have to bend down to pick up the post.
  • Buy long-life light bulbs which don’t need changing so often.
  • Don’t stand on a chair to change light bulbs or clean windows – ask for help instead.
  • Make sure the landing and stairs are clearly illuminated with a high-wattage light bulb and turn on the lights at night if you’re walking around.
  • Get up slowly out of a chair or bed in case you feel dizzy.
  • Try not to over-reach for things – keep objects you regularly need close to you.