If you fall try to stay calm. Take time to assess the situation as it can take a few minutes to feel pain from injuries. 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 already have a falls plan, try to follow it if 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 while you wait
Getting up from a fall
If you're not hurt and feel well enough, you could try to get up from the floor. The best way will differ from person to person, but as a guide, you can:
- roll onto your side
- push yourself up to a side sitting position
- slowly get onto your hands and knees
- crawl towards a sturdy piece of furniture that can support you to get up – such as a solid chair or sofa
- kneel side-on to the chair or sofa with your strongest leg next to it, then slide the foot of your strongest leg forward so that it's flat on the floor. Your other knee should remain on the floor.
- put both hands on the chair or sofa
- raise and turn your body, pushing through your hands and foot until your bottom is safely on the chair or sofa.
- sit for a few minutes before you try to do anything else and check again for injuries
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 can consider getting a community alarm so you know that help will always be available. Find out more about telecare services using the Telecare Self-check tool
To improve your confidence and technique, it's a good idea to practice getting up from a fall in different rooms of your house and using different types of sturdy furniture for support. For your safety, ask a friend or relative to be with you when you practice.
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 a community alarm, if you have one
- use a phone to call a relative, friend or neighbour. If you're injured, phone 999 and ask for an ambulance. If you’re not sure, phone 111
- ask your smart speaker, if you have one, to call someone who can help you
- try shouting, or banging on a wall, to try to attract your neighbour’s attention
Having a community alarm, or mobile phone, on you at all times will help you to call for help when you need it. Your mobile phone needs to be charged and switched on all the time. A number to call in an emergency can be programmed into the phone.
Ensuring that a family member or neighbour has a spare key will allow people to get to you quickly. You can also consider leaving a spare key in a police-approved key safe. This is a secure box with a combination lock that you can keep outside your home. This can be accessed by anyone that you have shared the combination code with.
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 them 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.
If you’re on the floor for a long time, you could become dehydrated.
If you have a glass or bottle of water within reach, you can take small sips from it.
Tell your GP practice
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.
What to do if someone else falls
It can take a few minutes to feel pain from injuries. If someone else falls it's important to reassure them, and assess the situation together, before you act. Find out more about what to do when someone falls in this leaflet (1MB).