7 Fixes to Common Home Hazards

potential-home-hazardsHome may be where the heart is, but for seniors who elect to enjoy their homes as they age, home can also present some potential pitfalls that may not be obvious to the untrained eye.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one out of five falls causes a serious injury, such as a fracture or head injury.  If you are a senior who enjoys their own space, the safest thing to do is go from room to room and identify potential hazards in a home. Then make minor changes as needed.

Below we offer a list of 7 fixes to common home hazards:

Lighten Up Your Home

  • Add nightlights to hallways, bathrooms and kitchens to make after-dark trips around your house safer.
  • Increase wattage in overhead lights and lamps with low-heat, LED light bulbs throughout the home; check with lamp and lighting manufacturers if you’re concerned about wattage limits.
  • To facilitate safer outdoor time, hang floodlights near porches and in the yard to illuminate a wider area.

Neutralize Slick Floors Throughout Your Home

  • Add rugs in the bathroom, kitchen and entryway with a rubberized underside to prevent slipping.
  • Raised edges on floor rugs are a tripping hazard. Either replace the rug, add double-stick tape or rug anchors to secure the rug’s edges to the floor.
  • Decorative fountains that can be a potential hazard in the home by making a slick floor even slicker. The safest bet is to remove unnecessary water hazards, such as fountains.
  • Add an absorbable mat to entryways to absorb wetness from rain and snow, so you don’t track water indoors and create a slipping hazard.
  • Pet water bowls are safer if they rest on a mat designed to absorb spills further reducing slick floor risks.

Declutter Rooms, Halls and Entryways

  • Clear all hallways of tables, planters and other clutter to decrease potential tripping hazards – or injuries that could occur is someone falls on top of them.
  • Be mindful of loose shoes, coat racks and loose rugs that can trip you and your visitors up.
  • Place all tables, standing pots and large ceramics against walls to minimize hazards.
  • A coffee table that is knee high may not be visible, particularly at night. Remove it or place it against a wall.
  • Manage electrical cords by wrapping them and keeping them out of highly traveled areas.

Reduce Injury Risks in the Bedroom

  • Prevent the risk of falling out of bed by installing adjustable hand bed rail under a standard bed.
  • Increase safety by placing a high-density foam mat on either side of the bed.
  • If mobility is an issue, an adjustable bed that rises and lowers to a level that is comfortable for you to get in and out of bed can be the solution.
  • Place a lamp and flashlight on the nightstand so both are in easy reach.

Step Up to Safety

  • According to the National Institute on Aging, stairs represent a major tripping hazard. Add non-skid treads to steps to reduce the possibility of falling.
  • Improve lighting to brighten staircases.
  • Broken and uneven steps are a danger that you should not attempt to fix on your own unless you are a professional handyman. Consult a qualified home construction expert.
  • Each staircase must have a secure handrail. If you need one installed or repaired, contact a qualified handyman or contractor.

Reduce Home Hazards in the Kitchen

  • To prevent food spoilage and possible poisoning, the Food and Drug Administration recommends using a refrigerator thermometer to make sure your refrigerator is at 40 degrees.
  • Put another thermometer in the freezer temperature to ensure frozen foods are stored as zero degrees.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case of unexpected fires.
  • A working fire alarm should be in or near the kitchen to alert you in the event a fire breaks out.
  • Check all appliance electrical cords to ensure they are not frayed.
  • Unplug all small appliances when they are not in use.
  • You or a handyman can install auto shut off valves on stovetop burners to prevent fires if forgetful cooks walk away.
  • Do not use your oven to heat the kitchen or home as it could introduce carbon monoxide into the air.

Stay Balanced in the Bathroom

  • Toilet safety rails can be assembled and installed to help seniors maintain balance while standing and sitting.
  • A shower bench allows a senior with mobility issues to shower without standing.
  • If getting in and out of the tub or shower is a challenge, homeowners can install a suction cup grab bar to improve safety. Installing a permanent bar is an even safer option.

Want to Know More?

By following this checklist, you can make your home a safer place to spend time. However, the suggestions identified on this list represent only the tip of the iceberg. There are many other options such as safe tubs, lift chairs and in-home elevators that facilitate even greater safety for homeowners who want to live independently.

If you have any questions about the products discussed in this article or other steps you can take to help make your home “senior friendly,” be sure to download our new, informative guide, Safe Home. Happy Home. It’s chock full of informative tips to keep you and your loved ones safe.