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Falls claim more lives than road accidents

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Falls claim more lives than road accidents
The safety bureau promotes the use of "balance disks" attached to the bottom of shoes to improve your balance and reduce the likelihood of falls. Photo: BFU
10:29 CEST+02:00
Falls account for more accidental deaths in Switzerland than any other cause, a new report shows.

Every year an average of 1,360 people die in the country after falling, a fatality rate that is more than four times higher than for motor vehicle accidents, the accident prevention bureau (BFU) says.

Falls are responsible for eight out of 10 deaths relating to daily activities, the bureau said in an online report issued this week.

Seniors are most vulnerable to falls, with more than half the victims over the age of 90, the BFU said.

An average of more than 80,000 falls involving seniors are recorded annually, with more than half of the incidents occurring in or around homes, including gardens, the bureau said.

In 2011, 1,483 people died from a fall in a home environment, while a further 15,820 people were seriously injured and in some cases became invalid, its report said.

By comparison, road accidents annually claim around 300 lives in Switzerland, while sports account for an average of 140 fatalities per year.

Despite the risk from falls, awareness of the problem is lower among the elderly than among other groups, surveys show.

With the proportion of elderly people growing in Switzerland, the number of fatalities linked to falls is likely to grow, the BFU said.

The bureau has launched a public awareness programme and is promoting an exercise plan to improve balance and strength.

It has issued kits to employers to raise awareness among employees in a bid to reduce falling accidents, in addition to consulting with managers of residential and nursing homes about preventive measures.  

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