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Health Tip: Home Safety for Older Adults

Safety becomes more important with age. Poor eyesight and hearing can decrease awareness of hazards. Impaired coordination and balance can result in trips and falls. But simple, inexpensive steps can prevent accidents. Here are just a few safety tips to help avoid the most common accidents.

 

In-home trips and falls 

The most common cause of serious injury in the aged, cause 6,700 deaths each year. Simple ways to reduce the likelihood of falling include:

  • Illuminating all stairways, and place light switches at both the bottom and top of stairs.
  • Using night lights for trips to the bathroom or kitchen.
  • Having handrails on both sides of the stairway.
  • Use only carpet which is tacked down, get rid of throw rugs!
  • Arrange furniture so there are no obstacles.
  • Do not use your hallways or stairwells for storage.
  • Use grab bars on bathroom walls and non-skid mats of strips in the bathtub.
  • Wear good shoes with nonskid soles
  • Allow yourself time to do what you must. Don’t hurry or run.
  • Keep outdoor steps and walkways in good repair.
  • Spread sand on icy walkways.

 

Electrical & Fire Safety

  • Lamp, extension and telephone cords should be out of the flow of traffic, and out from beneath furniture, rugs and carpeting.
  • Electrical cords should be kept in good condition, no fraying or cracking.
  • Make sure all outlets and switches are at room temperature, not warm or hot to the touch.
  • All outlets and switches should have cover plates, with no wiring exposed.
  • Light bulbs should be the appropriate size and type for the fixture.
  • Make sure towels, curtains and other flammable items are located away from the range.
  • Wear clothes with short or close fitting sleeves when cooking.
  • Make sure kitchen ventilation systems or range exhausts are functioning properly, and use them while cooking.
  • Unplug small appliances such as hair dryers, shavers, curling irons etc. when not in use.
  • Move ash trays, smoking materials and other fire sources (heaters, hot plates, teapots, etc.) away from beds and bedding.
  • Keep chimneys clear from accumulations of leaves, and other debris that can clog them.
  • Smoke detectors should be properly located on each level of the home, including kitchen and sleeping areas.
  • Change batteries annually and check smoke detectors regularly to make sure they are in proper working order.
  • Have and emergency exit plan and an alternative emergency exit plan.

 

General Safety

  • Post emergency numbers on or near the telephone.
  • Keep good, even lighting over the stove, sink and counter top work areas, especially where food is sliced or cut.
  • Step stools should be stable and in good repair.
  • Hallways, passages and heavy traffic areas should be well lit. Keep exits and passageways clear.
  • Keep water temperature 120 degrees or lower
  • Medicines should be stored in the containers they came in.
  • Keep a telephone close to your bed, and have lamps and light switches within reach.
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