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Safety first: Ambulance service offers advice on preventing falls

MADAWASKA, Maine — Winter weather is here and there is no better time than now to learn how to prevent falls, what to do if you fall and how to keep an eye out for your neighbors. 

Falls are one of the leading causes of death from unintentional injury at home, according to Madawaska Ambulance Service’s Jessica Page. The ambulance service sees an increase in the number of falls in the winter, especially when people are getting in and out of vehicles. They recommend using ice cleats on your shoes or boots, even if you just keep them in your vehicle to have them handy. 

“You may not be able to prevent every fall,” Page said. 

While you might not be able to clear the ice, snow and debris everywhere you park your vehicle or walk, you can ensure your own driveway and walkways are safe. 

“It is a good time to help each other out,” Page said. “Especially if you have an elderly neighbor.” 

Aside from helping your neighbors with their driveways, Page also suggests it is a good idea to keep an eye out for your neighbors anyway in case they were to fall inside. To avoid falls inside, keep pathways clear of cords and curled rugs. Bathrooms are also a major place where falls happen, according to Page. 

“A good thing is to keep an eye on your neighbors,” she said. “If you notice no one has cleaned the driveway, its OK to go check on them, even call the police department.”

The police department also has a program called Project Good Morning, where if someone lives alone and doesn’t have family nearby, the police department will check in with them in the morning. 

“A lot of falls happen at night, so it comes in handy because we can get to them before it is too late,” she said. 

The police department has had success with the program. People can opt to either call the station each morning or they get a call from an officer. If they do not pick up, then an officer is sent to do a well-being check. The department currently has two citizens enrolled, but anyone can sign up for this program. 

When it comes to salting your walkways and driveways, make sure to keep your salt bucket somewhere easily accessible and use a smaller way to spread the salt. Pro-tip: use a fertilizer spreader to evenly distribute the salt. 

Page said to make sure to “give yourself some time to leave safely so you’re not rushing out the door.” 

If you use walkers or canes, Page said it is very important to use them outside. 

Sometimes, the ambulance service will go to a call where someone might have fallen outside and have been there for a while. To prevent those instances, Page has a few tips.

While Page said there are many companies to choose from, if you were to go with a safety alert system with the button, be sure to wear it. 

“Keep your phone on you, or life alert buttons, make sure to wear the buttons,” she stressed. “Do not be afraid to push the button.” 

“You’re really not bothering us,” said Madawaska Ambulance Service’s paramedic Michael Dumond. 

From salting the driveways and walkways to checking on your neighbors, with snow and ice on the ground, the ambulance service suggested to not go out if at all possible. But, if you do and you fall, don’t be afraid to call.

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