If you have a fall try not to panic. Although you may feel shocked, remaining calm will help you to assess the situation. What you do next will depend on if you're hurt and whether or not you're able to get up without help.
If you've created a falls plan, you should try to follow it as closely as you can.
Checking for injuries
The first thing you need to do after a fall is work out if you're hurt. Take a few minutes to check your body for any pain or injuries, then:
- if you're not hurt, try to get up from the floor
- if you're hurt or unable to get off the floor, call for help and keep warm and moving as best you can
Getting up from a fall
If you're not hurt and feel well enough, you should try to get up from the floor as safely as possible. The best way to get up off the floor will differ from person to person, but as a guide, you should:
- roll onto your side then slowly pull yourself up so that you're on your hands and knees
- crawl towards a sturdy object that can support you to get up — such as a solid chair or the stairs
- using the object, and supporting your weight with your hands, slide one foot forward so that it's flat on the floor. Your other knee should remain on the floor
- pushing up from your arms and legs, slowly rise to your feet or to a sitting position
- sit for a few minutes before you try to do anything else
To improve your confidence and technique, it's a good idea to practise getting up from a fall in different rooms of your house and using different objects for support. For your safety, ask a friend or relative to be with you when you practice.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have produced a short video showing how to get up safely after a fall.
If you have weak muscles, or painful and stiff joints in your legs, you may not be able to follow these instructions. In this case, you should consider getting a personal alarm, so you know that help will always be available.
Calling for help
You should call for help if you're hurt as attempting to get up could make your injury worse. You may also need to call for help if you're unable to get up yourself.
To call for help:
- use an alarm, if you have one
- try shouting, or banging on a wall, to try to attract your neighbour’s attention
- use a phone to call a relative, friend or neighbour. If you're injured, phone 999 and ask for an ambulance
Having a personal alarm, or mobile phone, on you at all times will help you to call for help when you need it. Ensuring that a family member or neighbour has a spare key will allow people to get to you quickly.
After calling for help, it's important to keep warm as you may be at risk of developing hypothermia
To keep warm:
- move onto a carpet, rug or other soft surface. Hard surfaces like tiles and stone floors are often colder and take longer to warm up. If you have to empty your bladder while you're on the floor, move away from the wet area
- reach for a nearby duvet cover, blanket or clothing that you can use to cover yourself
- move away from areas where there's a draft
- keep your body moving
If you're with someone, ask him or her to put the heating on or make you a hot drink.
You should also attempt to keep your body moving as best you can. Lying in one position for too long can make you stiff, sore and damage the skin.
Moving your body, even gently, will keep you warm, focused and calm until help arrives. If you can, try to rock from side to side. If it hurts to move, stop.
Tell your GP
Regardless of whether this is your first fall, or you fall regularly, it's important to tell your GP practice, or other health professional - such as a physiotherapist or occupational therapist. Many underlying causes of falls can be treated or corrected.
More about when and where to get help
Where to start
Think about what you might do if you had a fall:
- would you know how to get up from the floor, or summon help?
- do you currently have a falls plan?
- what changes can you make that might help?
- how will you make these changes?
- who do you need to talk to?
Treating minor injuries
If you've hurt yourself during a fall, you can find treatment advice for muscle, bone and joint injuries.