“There’s no place like home.” This is where we feel most comfortable and safe. It can, however, be filled with obvious and hidden hazards. A big part of home safety is preventing the most common of home accidents — falls.
We usually associate falls with the elderly, but consider these possible causes and you’ll see how it can happen to anyone:
- Poor vision
- Balance problems
- Improper footwear
- Lack of sleep
- Loss of muscle tone
- Decreased bone density
- Shorter reaction time
Broken bones, sprains, concussions, cuts, and other injuries can result from a fall that took only a split second to happen. Recovery from the injury can take a long time, possibly resulting in complications and long-term effects. Naturally, it’s best to take preventive steps to reduce the risk of falls to begin with. Here are some measures you can take to make the environment safer for you and your loved ones:
Use night lights or plug-in motion sensor lights throughout the house, especially on dark hallways and stairways.
Reduce floor clutter such as cords, shoes, pet toys, newspapers.
Use non-skid tape to secure the edges of carpet.
Keep stairs free and clear of all objects.
Remove throw rugs.
Arrange furniture so there is enough room to safely walk around each item while facing forward. Picture how the risk increases if a person must walk sideways to squeeze between pieces. Be sure to leave enough room for a walker, cane, crutches, or other mobility aids.
Keep frequently used items within easy reach to avoid use of step stools.
Remove casters on furniture. While casters make furniture easy to move, it poses a danger for that very reason. It’s best to remove them to avoid being thrown off-balance.
Purchase appropriate good-fitting footwear with non-skid soles. Avoid flip-flops and shoes with laces.
Use contrasting colors on floors, walls, and furniture to make it easier for those with vision problems to navigate.
Avoid using glossy floor polish or wax as it can make the floor slippery and could also cause a glare, impairing their vision.
Clean up spills and pet accidents immediately.
Check that handrails on stairs, showers, and elsewhere are installed securely at the proper height.
Apply non-slip threads on bare wooden steps.
Instruct your loved one in the proper use of a walker, cane, or other walking aid.
Remove or lower raised thresholds between rooms, or make them beveled to reduce the risk of tripping.
Adjust the height of their bed so they can easily maneuver in and out of it.
Install bathroom doors to open outwards to allow access to someone who has fallen. Consider replacing the doorknobs with non-locking ones.
Install a raised toilet seat with grab bars next to it.
Use a shower seat and non-skid mats or appliques in the bathtub and shower.
Teach pets not to jump up on people. It doesn’t take much to knock someone down if they have balance problems or are frail.
Don’t forget about the yard:
Repair cracks on concrete pathways and patios.
Clear the path of hoses, garden tools, rocks and stones, branches, pet toys, and the like.
Level out sunken areas.
Install good outdoor lighting and handrails where needed.
Use reflective tape or paint on steps to improve visibility.
Provide seating in the yard should they need to sit down and rest.
Cover window wells.
Last, but not least, purchase a medical alert device with fall detection. The capability of the device to detect a fall is important. They may not be able to push the button for help if they’re unconscious or badly injured. This device will automatically call for assistance.
For other safety concerns, see the post about burns and scalds.
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