The National Safety Council (NSC) declares June of every year as National Safety Month.
This is a public education campaign designed to provide guidelines, tips, preventative measures and more to ensure individuals and their families are practicing safety in all areas of life. For seniors in particular, safety at home is a critical concern and should be addressed ahead of any problem that could arise.
Falls, burns, and poisonings are among the leading causes of injury and death in home accidents involving seniors. According to Age Safe America, 78 percent of fall injuries occur in or near the home.
As an increasing number of older Americans are choosing to age-in-place (stay in their home rather than move to an assisted living facility), it is imperative that improved home safety measures mirror this rise.
By taking a room-by-room approach to home safety, you can identify and fix potentially dangerous areas of concern.
-Home security system: This could range from full home security system with alarms, cameras, and emergency alert capabilities to more simple tactics such as a door bell video camera system. Full home automation with remote control accessibilities is an option if you are caring for an aging parent who still wants to maintain a level of independence. Home security options today are expandable and adaptable to fit a variety of individual needs.
-Lighting: Make sure bulbs are functioning properly, access areas are well-lit, and install motion sensor lighting if necessary. Keep extra lightbulbs on hand in an accessible location.
-Clear walk/pathways: Remove obstacles from walkways or pathways that lead to any access points to the house; clear overgrown shrubbery and trees; sweep away gravel, pebbles, sand or any other material that could become a fall hazard.
-Living room: Remove loose rugs; repair or replace damaged flooring; remove or arrange furniture for easy walk flow; keep electrical cords out of the way.
-Kitchen: As one of the most dangerous rooms in the home, take extra care when outfitting the kitchen for safety. If there is a gas stove, check for an automatic shut-off option in case the pilot light goes out; unplug small appliances when not in use; use step stools when needed; rearrange the most-used foods and items for easiest reach; ensure knives are securely stored; regularly check pantry and refrigerator for spoiled or expired food.
-Hallways: Repair or replace thresholds or flooring for easy walking and transition from room to room; ensure there is adequate lighting as needed; keep hallways clear of furniture, clutter, throw rugs, or other trip hazards.
-Bedrooms: Make sure the bed is the appropriate height – both feet should be flat on the floor when sitting on the bed; make sure bed linens are not touching the floor, and remove excess pillows and accessories from the bed; make sure nightstands are sturdy and secure; put within reach: a telephone, bedside lamp, emergency phone numbers, medical alert monitor, and medications.
-Bathrooms: Install grab bars as needed, near the toilet and in/out of the shower or bathtub; use a shower chair and/or transfer bench; use non-slip bath mats outside of the shower bathtub; use adhesive strips on the shower or tub floor; secure towel bars; use a raised toilet seat if needed; put all medications in secure locations; consider installing a phone in the bathroom.
-General: Check that all smoke detectors are in working order; cover any unused outlets; make sure all window and door locks are in working order.
Surveying your own home, or the home of a loved one, with a critical eye towards safety will allow you and your loved one to live in confidence and security.