Artificial Lighting and Fall Prevention

February 16, 2022

Filed in: {Home Safety}

By Janet Engel, OT/L, CAPS

  The majority of falls occur in the home or very close to it (garden or Porch). Lighting is a huge factor in fall prevention. We can use both natural light and artificial light to greatly reduce our risk for falls inside the home. So lets’ do it! 

     This article is going to focus on changes we can make in our home – through artificial lighting to reduce our fall risk, increase productivity during working tasks like meal prep, and increase safety and security. I’m also going to let you in on a little secret…increasing/upgrading the lighting in your home will also make it look more beautiful (inside and out)!

     We need to first consider the type of bulb, as well as the quantity, quality, longevity, and ability to access and control your lighting. People need more light as they age. It is always better to over light than under light a room. Key areas to install additional lighting are:

  • Stairs
  • Hallways
  • Bathroom
  • kitchen

     A good rule of thumb to determine how much lighting you need at your age, is your age plus 40 foot candles or fc’s. Always install LED lights that are dimmable. A light meter app such as Light Companion or Light Meters Pro is a handy tool to let you know how much light is being delivered to the surface you are trying to light. Type of light fixture will also have an effect on fc levels. 

Area of HomeFoot Candles
Stairway10-20
Hallway5-10
Kitchen50-100
Bathroom10-20
Home Office30-50
Laundry50-100
Recommended Foot Candles

     The quality of your lighting also plays a big role in safety and functionality. In Kitchen and Bath Lighting Made Easy, published by the NKBA. Michael DeLuca recommends using lamps between 2900k (kelvin) and 3600k for most general and task lighting. 

     The longevity of your light bulb is equally important. We want to choose light bulbs that are going to be long lasting. 

Standard incandescent light bulb= 750 hours

Halogen bulb= 2000 hours

Compact Fluorescent= 10,000 hours

LED Lighting= 50,000 hours

LED’s are the obvious choice for most of our lighting needs and they only use 2-5 watts and last for 20 years. Now that’s a big bang for your buck!

Controllability- A great way to increase accessibility and safety is to install motion sensors in closets, hallways, basements, garages, and bathrooms. It is also a good idea to install 3 and 4 way switches so lights can be accessed from different locations in the room or hall. 

     In addition, LED lighting strips can be added inside cabinetry, under kitchen or bathroom cabinets for wayfinding (the process or activity of ascertaining one’s position and planning and following a route), and stairs for safety. Also plug-in LED night-lights around the home. They are cheap and can reduce your fall risk substantially. 

     There is a lot we can do to reduce our fall risk as we get older. Simple, low cost, low-tech solutions exist in abundance. Please read our next blog to learn more about how to make the best use of daylighting to further increase safety and reduce your fall risk. 

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