With more senior citizens living long and healthy lives, many prefer to stay in their own homes versus joining a retirement community. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, close to 1 million folks over age 65 are treated for injuries related to their home every year. Here are some home safety tips and modifications for seniors that can help keep them safe inside and outside their home.
General Safety Tips for Seniors
- Either keep a cell phone on you or have a telephone that can be reached from floor level.
- Tape telephone numbers for the police, fire department, poison control, a relative and a neighbor to the phone or near it.
- At least one smoke detector should be placed on every floor and away from air vents.
- Install a carbon monoxide detector that sounds an alarm.
- Make sure door thresholds are either removed or lowered so there’s a clear entryway.
- Instead of twisting round doorknobs throughout the house, install lever-action handles.
Bathroom Safety for Seniors
- Place nonskid mats near the toilet and sinks.
- Install bath aids and grab bars on the walls of the bathtub/shower and on the sides of the toilet.
- Apply textured strips to the tub and make sure the bath mat has a non-slip bottom.
- Purchase a shower chair or tub bench.
- Turn the water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or below to prevent scalding.
- Clearly label cold and hot faucets.
- Make sure that all containers in the medicine cabinet are clearly marked with proper dosage instructions and an expiration date.
- Leave a nightlight on in your bathroom overnight.
Kitchen Safety for Seniors
- Store hazardous materials away from food.
- Avoid using slippery wax on floors.
- Mark “on” and “off” positions on appliances clearly.
- Move cords and appliances away from the kitchen sink and hot surfaces.
- Move appliances closer to wall outlets to avoid needing extension cords
- If an extension cord is necessary, install wire guides so the cord doesn’t hang in a dangerous area.
- Keep flammable and combustible items away from the range and oven.
- Use ventilation systems or open windows to clear the air.
- Remove any towels hanging on oven handles.
- Shorten curtains or install blinds on windows near heat sources to avoid a fire.
- Roll up loose sleeves or fasten them with pins or elastic bands while cooking.
Living Room Safety for Seniors
- Arrange furniture so that outlets are available for lamps and appliances without the use of extension cords. If one is absolutely necessary, place it on the floor against a wall and out of the way.
- Make sure all mats have rubber or slip-resistant matting underneath.
- Remove or tack down rugs.
- Relocate heaters away from flammable items like curtains, rugs or furniture.
- Reduce glare by using frosted bulbs, indirect lighting or shades on light fixtures.
- Remove clutter and rearrange furniture to keep hallways open and barrier free.
- Have the chimney checked and cleaned by a professional.
- Place protective screens on the fireplace.
Stair Safety for Seniors
- Indoor stairs should be illuminated by having a switch at both the top and bottom of the staircase.
- Replace any worn carpeting or fraying areas and make sure you are wearing non-slip shoes or socks on all flooring.
- Avoid patterned or dark carpeting that can make it difficult to see the edges of the steps clearly.
- Mark outside steps with paint that has a rough texture in either white or yellow to see them in the dark more easily.
It’s easy to overlook the areas and items that might compromise safety. If you are a senior citizen or have a loved one who lives alone, take these safety tips to heart and consider making these modifications to make your home the safe haven it should be.
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