Whether you or a loved one is looking to improve the flooring throughout the home, it’s important to first understand the top areas of concern that often lead to a risk of falling.
And regardless if you are looking for a few simple home modifications or all new flooring, it is key to ensure that all flooring is both non-slip and trip-resistant. So as you look to improve floor safety, here are the 5 steps you should take to reduce the risk of falling, slipping or tripping at home.
Check For Tile Traction
Many homes have tile in the kitchen and bathrooms.
And while tile can look very lovely within the home, we often see many people wonder how to make tile less slippery, and especially how to make bathroom tile less slippery. But before attempting to make the tile any less slippery it’s important you address the tile friction.
Specifically, the dynamic coefficient of friction (DCOF).
This is the amount of force required for a shoe or foot to slide across a surface. The lower the coefficient of friction, the more slippery a surface can be. The standard DCOF for tile is 0.42, but it is recommended to utilize tile that has a DCOF greater than 0.60 for anyone more prone to slips and falls. This means that when wet, it is less likely that you or a loved one will slip.
Oftentimes, tile that is smaller (mosaic tile) often found in the bathroom, will produce more friction and be more safe when wet as opposed to large tile that can be slippery.
If you aren’t sure what your DCOF is, don’t worry. An occupational therapist is more than able to assess home flooring and can accurately tell you if any tile poses a safety risk.
And if the tile is too slippery you have options. Yes, you can replace the tile flooring or an occupational therapist can suggest a great coating solution, such as an anti-slip sealer, that will increase friction, keep your tile polished and increase overall floor safety.
Note Any Uneven or Cracked Flooring
Uneven floors can be a safety hazard and can throw off anyone’s equilibrium.
It’s important to go through the home and take note of any area where the flooring feels uneven or has any cracks. Large cracks in your kitchen, bathroom, bedroom or elsewhere present severe tripping hazards and in general are not safe.
Once you’ve noted all areas within the home that have unsafe flooring we recommend having an occupational therapist come to the home and access all areas of concern and recommend solutions that will improve the floor safety.
They’ll also be able to get you in touch with the proper handyman and floor repair companies that can fix the unsafe flooring.
Measure Hallway Width
The width of the floor is also crucial for mobility and accessibility throughout the home, especially for anyone using a walker or wheelchair.
The Americans with Disabilities Act Regulations (ADA) recommends that hallways be at least 60” in width in order to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs and provide ample space for turning. This means that when preparing to safely age at home, it is important to ensure all common areas of the home have adequate hallway width.
And if you’re not sure if the home has adequate hallway space or any of the various flooring suggestions mentioned above, always feel free to connect with our Jukebox Health team. Our Client Care Team would be more than happy to help.
Note Any Unsafe Floor Transitions
Floor transitions are the differences in type of flooring surfaces within the home.
It’s common to see carpeting or wood flooring in a hallway that leads to a tiled bathroom, and it’s most likely your home has this! However, between this floor transition there is typically a door saddle that can vary in height. Door saddles that have a high threshold can be a significant barrier to home safety and will increase a person’s risk of falling.
In addition, people who use a walker or wheelchair can have trouble navigating these thresholds, as picking up their feet or the walker itself is often difficult. Fall risk can also be compounded for anyone with gait issues or if they often need to rush to the bathroom.
The solution for this is a graded door saddle, which is essentially a very small ramp between one type of flooring to another. This provides a smooth transition- reducing the risk of tripping and improves accessibility for all walkers and wheelchairs.
Remove Unsafe Rugs and Carpeting
Many throw rugs lose their adhesive bottom in a short amount of time which can lead to a serious trip or fall. And even worse, anyone with lower body weakness, trouble with balance or gait abnormalities may trip over the leading edge of the throw rug.
However there are simple solutions to improving rug safety at home. These can include rug tape, rug grippers or purchasing. non-skid rugs.
In addition, some homes have carpeting that was installed years ago.
So whether you or a loved one is planning to age at home or is now using an assistive device such as a walker or wheelchair, the flooring and carpeting has to be safe.
To address the carpet, consider the thickness of a carpet - also called the carpet pile. These are the tiny loops within the carpet that determine if it will be thin or thick. The smaller the carpet pile is, the easier it will be to both ambulate and roll a wheelchair, reducing the risk for falls and improving mobility.
Improving Floor Safety Today
If you or a loved one is looking to improve floor safety, be sure to follow the above five steps and look into the various home modifications you can implement to make the home safer.
And if there’s any other home modifications you’d like to learn more about, you can always learn more on our blog or by getting in contact with our Client Care Team.