When you think of the dangers of slip and fall accidents, you might expect the serious risks to be borne by construction workers and other people who spend their days working on high ladders, rooftops and other high-risk environments. For the average Joe going about their daily routine, you might only expect a slip and fall accident to result in a sprained ankle or a bruised knee.
However, slip and fall accidents are the most common cause of emergency room visits–about 8 million visits per year. Falls lead to half of all accidental deaths occurring in the home–and most of these happen at ground level. More than 2 million slip and fall injuries per year are the result of the impact with the floor.
If you’re an athlete or stunt professional, you fall all the time. You’ve trained for it, and you know how to do it in a way that prevents or minimizes injury. For most of us, however, slipping and falling is not a common occurrence. Therefore, when it does happen, we’re ill-prepared for how to react.
What your instincts tell you to do
When most of us fall, we instinctively try to break your fall with a knee, foot or outstretched hands. However, these areas are hard and more likely to break. In addition, if we fall straight forward or backward, we’re more likely to hit our head and cause spinal injury.
What you should do instead
When you feel yourself falling, tuck your head, bend your elbows and pivot to the side–to reduce the impact on your head and spine. You want to get yourself to fall onto the fleshy, more forgiving parts of your body, such as the thigh, glutes or shoulder. Instead of resisting the fall, move with it, and keep your body relaxed.