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The staggering cost of stair-related injuries

Slips, trips and falls on staircases are more common than you may think. About half of U.S. homes have stairs in them, putting many of us at risk every day for a stair-related injury.

Many tumbles down the stairs result in minor scrapes and bruises, but some groups are particularly susceptible to serious injuries. The elderly could fracture bones, young children may sustain traumatic brain injuries, and pregnant women could harm themselves or their babies. While these groups are especially at risk, serious stair injuries could affect any of us.

More than 1 million injuries each year

One study found that between 1990 and 2012, there were nearly 25 million ER visits for stair-related injuries. That's an average of 3,000 a day - an injury every 30 seconds.

The costs of these injuries are even more substantial. The study estimates that they total around $92 billion every year.

Who is at risk?

As mentioned before, some groups are particularly prone to serious stair injuries. Among them are older adults (over 85 years of age), young children (under 3 years old) and young adult women (in their 20s).

However, anybody could sustain these injuries. In fact, the study notes that around 60 percent of stair-related injuries happened without a cause.

On a more positive note, many of these injuries are relatively minor. Nearly 94 percent of patients were quickly treated and released the same day, while the remaining 6 percent were admitted for further care.

How you can avoid injury

This study highlights the need for a systematic change in stair design and construction, both in residential and commercial buildings. Poor stair design is a major cause of falls.

If you already own a home with a staircase, however, there are some measures you can take to avoid injury. Keep any clutter off the stairs, and ensure your stairways have ample lighting. And while you may think ascending or descending the stairs is child's play, don't take your safety for granted - try not to multitask, and focus on where your feet land to avoid a fall.

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