8 Tips for Keeping You Safe at Home
Our home is our castle, our island oasis when the outside world is too busy, it’s our safety net and our comfort zone. But thinking about it, how safe are we in our own homes? Especially if we’re older? National home injury statistics show that falls in the home are a serious public health problem, with nearly 5.1 million Americans injured by falls in and around the home each year. With a little planning and modifications, your home can easily be adapted for safety, keeping it as your castle, island oasis and your comfort zone.
8 Safety Tips to Keep You Safe at Home
1. Get Rid of Throw Rugs. Throw rugs are a big factor in falls. If you use a cane or walker the tips can easily get stuck on the edge of your rug, causing you to trip, lose your balance and fall. Throw out those rugs! Basic low nap carpet, or hardwood and linoleum floors are best.
2. Make an Easy Entrance or Exit! Have you ever watched the show, “Hoarders?” Is that what your house resembles, but on a smaller scale? Trying to walk around all that clutter can cause you to trip, and fall. Make entrance and exits wide enough for a safe passage, at least 32 inches. Remove floor sills in between rooms to eliminate a tripping hazard. Make sure you have a clear exit from your home in case of an emergency.
3. Simplify Stairs! Let’s face it, stairs are no fun if you have trouble getting around. To make it easier in your home, install handrails on both sides of the staircase to help with climbing, and assisting with the trek back down. If necessary, install a ramp exiting from your house to eliminate the outside steps. Ramps should be 30-40 inches wide with no more than a 1” rise per foot.
4. Make Room to Maneuver! As we age and have trouble walking, or even if we are younger, and have suddenly been relegated to crutches or a wheelchair, the focus on our interior design needs to be on functionality, not on becoming the next design star on HGTV. Arrange your furniture in a way that will easily accommodate a safe pathway through your home. Have the things you use the most or need, easily accessible to your chair, to eliminate reaching or having to get up to find the remote.
5. Plug in for Safety! Make sure extensions cords from lamps, fans, stereos etc. are not crossing a walkway, or sticking out from behind the couch. All cords should be tucked away. This is a rule for the kitchen also. Many small appliances have cords that dangle off the countertop. Tuck these away also, to prevent a fall. Use plastic zip ties to keep the cords neat and tidy.
6. Slippery When Wet! Have a grab bar installed in the shower or tub area by a professional. Use a shower chair in the bath to save energy, and most importantly, to prevent slipping. Consider using a long handled sponge for easier reaching to the feet and lower legs. A raised toilet seat with handles can make a standard toilet much more accessible and safe.
7. Save a Little Kitchen Magic! Be a great chef, but be a safe one. Use a “reacher” or a safe step stool to get to items on top shelves. NEVER climb on a chair to reach that mixing bowl! Create a workspace where you can be seated while preparing a meal. Use slide out shelves or a lazy Susan in your kitchen to get to groceries easier. Don’t store things on high shelves, keep everything where it’s easiest for you to reach.
8. Goodnight and Safe Dreams! Install bed rails to make getting in and out of bed easier, or if necessary, purchase a hospital bed. Make sure the corners of your bedspread or sheets don’t drag on the floor, causing you to get your walker tips or your feet tangled. Lower the shelves in your closet to make it easier to get to clothing, or store things on eye level or lower.
Our home is our castle, and should be even as we age. Follow the above tips, and you’ll be on a great start to making it to home base safely. For more great safety tips, check out the website: www.homesafetycouncil.org.