With guests coming over for the holidays, it’s a good idea to do a quick safety check around the house. Falls are the leading cause of injuries in the home in the United States. Every 20 minutes an elderly person dies from a fall. Falls are also the leading cause of non-fatal home injuries for children up to the age of 14. Even if you have no elderly persons or young children living in your home, it is important to make your home as safe as possible.
- Clear clutter away. Keep all trip hazards away from traffic areas.
- Handrails need to be installed on both sides of stairs, inside and outside. Make sure they extend the entire length of the stairway. Keep stairs free of clutter.
- Install lighting in stairwells, hallways, and bathrooms. There are LED lights that stick on the wall that use very little energy.
- Avoid small area rugs. Any used should have a non-skid backing or secured with double sided tape.
- Corral all electronic wire with twist ties or find specially made products online. Many new electronics are wireless too.
- Make sure sidewalks are well maintained. Light walkways, stairs, and porches. Solar lights are inexpensive and will keep everything bright at night.
- Bathtubs are a danger zone for both the elderly and children. Always use a large nonslip bathmat. Install grab bars in tub and shower. Place a faucet cushion on the tub faucet so little ones don’t hurt themselves. Keep tubs free of slippery soap buildup.
If you have elderly relatives still living in their own home, there are resources to help. Check out www.eldercare.gov. www.rebuildingtogether.org is a resource for elderly people who want to stay in their homes. It provides help for upgrading seniors’ homes with safety items like better lighting, handrails, and safety bars.
KATHLEEN WEAVER-ZECH & DEAN’S TEAM CHICAGO