A Guide to Safety in the Home

This information has been prepared to identify hazards in the home and to enhance safety.  We hope that these suggestions will help prevent accidents and falls and improve home safety.

Falls

Falls represent a serious hazard for seniors, posing a threat to the quality and length of life.  Approximately one-third of seniors living at home experience at least one fall per year, while two-thirds living in long term care facilities experience a fall.  Both aging and frailty contribute to an increased incidence of falls among the older population.

Fall prevention techniques include postural stability exercises as well as safety precautions.  Rehabilitation focuses on functional independence and improved awareness of hazardous conditions.  Although research has focused attention on falls, neither specific causes nor effective methods of preventing them have been well delineated.  It is therefore important to address safety issues in an effort to minimize injuries and occurrences of falls.

All Rooms

  • Keep all electrical cords out of high traffic areas to avoid tripping
  • Repair unsteady furniture
  • In doorways, thresholds should be removed or covered with carpet
  • Develop an emergency exit plan in case of fire
  • Mark sliding glass doors with stickers to avoid walking into them
  • Keep house well lit to prevent tripping or bumping into unseen objects
  • Elevate seat height with a firm cushion to assist you to a standing position
  • Make sure the smoke detectors are working
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in the house
  • Make sure the pathway between furniture is wide enough for wheelchairs, canes and walkers
  • Remove throw rugs from areas with vinyl, tile or wooden flooring
  • Check that irons are unplugged or turned off when you are finished using them

Personal Attire

  • Wear non-skid shoes rather than socks when walking indoors and out
  • Wear clothing without long or loose sleeves which could touch hot surfaces or catch on knobs when cooking
  • Wear a hat when gardening in the sun
  • Whenever possible, wear lace-up shoes to better support your feet and ankles
  • Never stand on wet floors barefoot

Closets

  • Do not stack items dangerously high on shelves; make sure all items are stored securely
  • Store heavy boxes on the floor where they may be moved and reached safely - do not stack heavy boxes
  • Do not store combustible materials indoors
  • Ensure that areas are well lie to prevent possible injuries

Bedrooms

  • Put a light switch at the door to prevent accidents in a dark room
  • Avoid hazardous placement of furniture
  • Lamp or light switches should be within reach of each bed
  • Keep a phone within reach of your bed in case of emergencies
  • Do not cover electric blankets when in use and do not tuck in corners
  • Keep smoking materials and electrical appliances away from bedding
  • Never smoke in bed

Stairways

  • Install secure handrails
  • Apply bright tap to the first and last steps for depth perception if you have a vision problem
  • Keep stairways well lighted
  • Keep stairways clear and carpeting well secured

Kitchen

  • Never stand on a chair to reach a shelf
  • Place most frequently used items on lower shelves that are more easily reached
  • Write emergency numbers an all phones
  • Wipe up spills/clean up broken glass right away
  • Use non-skid floor wax
  • Ensure that stove controls are clearly visible and in good working condition
  • Place towels, curtains and other flammable materials away from stove or heater
  • Turn pot handles toward the stove
  • Turn off all appliances before leaving home

Garage/Outdoors

  • Get assistance to hold the ladder if you must climb to reach something
  • Wear non-skid shoes if you must stand on a wet concrete surface

Bathrooms

  • Install safety rails on the tub and toilet
  • Put a non-skid mat near the tub and toilet
  • Mark hot and cold faucet controls with colors - red for hot & blue for cold
  • Use non-skid abrasive strips in the bathtub or shower
  • Lower your water temperature to guard against accidental scalding
  • Keep electrical appliances away from the tub or sink
  • Consider shower curtains and bath benches to minimize risk of falling
  • Before getting in the tub, check the water temperature with a hand, foot or elbow