Insightsthe blog of Porter Hills
Tips for Senior Home Safety (Part 1)
As my parents have aged, currently 87 and 92, my sisters and I have continued to research the resources available to allow them to age in place. They enjoy life, with their crazy little dog, in a senior community apartment in Grand Ledge. We have found that our biggest challenge is keeping them safe in their apartment and encouraging them to allow us to make the changes necessary for them to continue to age in the place they call home. It has taken some convincing but we have made progress one step at a time.
Below is of a list of safety tips that I have compiled throughout my research to ensure my parents continue to live a happy, healthy, and safe life. These tips focus on general safety, kitchen safety and safety in hallways and stairways. Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog for additional safety tips for other areas of the home.
- Emergency numbers and your address are posted by each telephone.
- The telephone can be reached from the floor or you carry a cell phone with you.
- Inside and outside door handles and locks are easy to operate.
- Door handles are lever-action instead of round knobs.
- Door thresholds have been removed or are low and beveled.
- Windows are easily opened from the inside but have secure locks that can prevent someone from entering from the outside.
- There is an emergency exit. You can add an escape route through portable ladders or chutes.
- The thermostat of the water heater is set at 120 degrees F or lower to prevent accidental scalding.
- Medications are stored in a safe place according to instructions on the label of the package or container.
- Carpeting and rugs are not worn or torn.
- Small, loose rugs have nonskid backing and are not placed in traffic areas.
- Appliances, lamps and cords are clean and in good condition.
- There are no exposed bulbs in lamps or fixtures that can cause glare.
- Automated lighting controls are installed.
- All electrical equipment bears the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label.
- Enough outlets are located where they are needed in every room.
- Electrical overload protection is provided by circuit breakers, fuses or ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI).
- The electrical service has enough capacity and is up to code. (An electrical inspector can check the wiring in your house.)
- Extension cords do not carry more than their proper load, as indicated on the cord or appliance.
- Electrical cords are placed out of the traffic flow and are not underneath rugs and furniture.
- Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are installed and in working order. (One idea to help you remember to change the batteries is to replace them on your birthday.)
- Assistive listening devices are used for small room amplification, personal listening and TV listening.
- The range and sink areas are well lit.
- If you have a gas range, it is equipped with pilot lights and an automatic cut-off in the event of flame failure. (Your local utility service can check this for you.)
- The range is not located under a window with curtains that might fall onto a burner.
- If you have an exhaust hood for the oven, it has easily removable filters for proper cleaning. Clean filters as needed.
- The kitchen exhaust system is internally vented, discharges directly outside, or discharges through ducts to the outside and not into the attic or other unused space.
- Countertop space and height is ample to keep carrying and lifting to a minimum.
- Work surfaces are not shiny or glaring.
- Countertops are adjustable.
- There is enough countertop lighting for meal preparation.
- Cabinet shelving is replaced with drawers or pull-out components.
- Kitchen wall cabinets are not too high to be easily reached.
- The light switch is located near the door.
- Oven controls are clearly marked and easily grasped.
- Oven controls are located on the front or side of the oven.
- The kitchen sink has a single-lever mixing faucet.
- Flooring is safe and nonslip.
- When cooking, you turn pan handles away from other burners and the edge of the range.
- When cooking, you avoid wearing garments with long, loose sleeves.
- Hot pads and pan holders are kept near the range.
- The exhaust fan is turned on when using the range.
- If you have a microwave oven, operate it only when there is food in it. Use potholders to avoid burns.
- Small appliances are unplugged when not in use.
- Knives are kept in a knife rack or drawer.
- Counter tops and work areas are cleared of all unnecessary objects.
- Drawers and cupboards are kept closed.
- You use a sturdy, stable stepladder or stepstool rather than a chair to reach objects in overhead cabinets.
- You wipe up grease or liquid spills at once.
Stairways and Halls
- Foyer has a nonslip entrance.
- Steps are in good condition and are free of objects.
- Steps have nonskid strips or their carpeting is securely fastened and free of fraying or holes.
- There are smoke detectors in hallways and near sleeping areas.
- Hallways are equipped with night-lights.
- Sturdy handrails are on both sides of stairways and are securely fastened.
- Light switches are located at the top and bottom of stairways and at both ends of long hallways.
- Inside doors do not swing out over stair steps.
- There is enough overhead space in the stairway to avoid bumping your head.
- Room entrances do not have raised door thresholds.
- It is easy to see the leading edge or nosing of each stair tread while walking down stairs. (Use tape of contrasting color if not.)
- Stairways and hallways are well lit.
Safety is key to living a long and healthy life!