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Home Safe Home: Enhancements Make Living Safer

pharm-psych-homeConsider this a short guide to small home improvements that can keep you and your family safe…

Many people take living at home for granted most of their lives. At some point, many must move to senior facilities or nursing homes as they are not able to be safe at home. This article will not cover those issues.

Often, a fall at home sends an elderly person to the hospital, never to return home. Preventing falls before they happen can make homes safer to live in so they can be lived in longer. Medical issues may prevail and these tips may not be enough but they should help some.

Every room and hallway should be free from clutter.

Remove unnecessary items as they only serve as trip and fall hazards.

Stairs can be a hazard. Use and maintenance issues can be addressed to make them safer.

Stairs should not be used for storage, even “just for a moment”. Items should not be placed on them “to take upstairs later”. Instead, install a shelf near the stairs for those items. Or perhaps a small table will fit.

It will depend on the stairs. However, do not add to the safety issue by overcrowding the landing or having a shelf that is low enough to hit your head on.

Good lighting on stairs is essential. The lights should be working and turned on for every trip up or down. There are light switches that glow when off so they are easier to see.

There should be no loose or broken steps and if there are they need to be repaired immediately. Handrails should be present on all stairs and in good repair also.

Carpet, not area rugs, is generally safer on stairs than not having any. For stairs that do not have carpet, a bright strip should be painted on the top and bottom stair so they are more visible. Be sure that the stairs are not slippery, stair treads or stair paint with grit can help this.

Area rugs are an attractive decoration and often placed in high traffic areas. However, this is not a good idea as area rugs are both a trip and slipping hazard.

Remove all area rugs in the home for safer stairs and floors.

Bedrooms may have hidden hazards as well…

Good lighting is a must. Place a lamp close to the bed so that it is in easy reach without getting out of bed.

The lamp, whether a floor or table lamp, should have a sturdy, stable base so it will stay upright. A working flashlight nearby is essential as well in case the power goes out.

A nightlight in the bedroom and hallways will improve safety. Using a nightlight with a battery or battery backup is better in the case of a power outage.

Directly next to the bedside lamp should be a telephone. It should be reachable from the bed. A wearable emergency alert button and service will provide help when the phone is out of reach.

The bathroom can be made safer as well.

There should be no area rugs. A non-slip mat in and outside the tub will decrease falls. The bathroom should be free from clutter. Most bathrooms are not very large and should only have essential items in them.

When walking around the house, slippers or shoes should be worn. Bare feet can be injured and stocking feet can slip.

Both prescription and non-prescription medicines should not be stored in the bathroom medicine closet. Steam from the shower or bath can degrade them.

An elevated toilet seat will make it easier to sit and stand as needed. The tub or shower and toilet areas should have grab bars as well.

Many people want to live at home for as long as they can; a few improvements can go a long way to keep them there.

Cynthia Tomusiak (3 Posts)

Cynthia Tomusiak is a writer and professor with an emergency services background. Tomusiak is an Emergency Medical Technician with a master’s degree in Threat and Response Management for the University of Chicago. She has been in the fire service for 27 years and has achieved the rank of captain.


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