You can take simple steps to protect your family as well as support your aging parents and relatives in creating a secure environment.
The Home Safety Council advises to take the following steps at home to prepare for an emergency:
- Do a walk-through of your home. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, child safety locks, and First Aid supplies.
- Get an emergency supply kit. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security offers an Emergency Supply Checklist.
- Make a family emergency plan and stay informed.
If you are caring for aging parents, and as you age, keep in mind that one common problem individuals face is when their home no longer matches their needs and abilities. You can assess and adapt the home environment now to prepare for the future. As you are assessing the safety of your home, or a loved one’s dwelling, consider improving the lighting and making changes to reduce the risk for falls.
The older you get, the more important proper lighting becomes. In addition to adequate general lighting, it is recommended that you:
- Have a second light source shining directly on what you need to see.
- Make sure all lamps have shades to prevent glare.
- Put a light switch at the top and bottom of staircases to avoid darkness at either end.
- Don’t leave cords sticking out where people can trip over them.
- Don’t try to do your own electrical work. Hire a licensed professional.
Half of all falls happen at home doing everyday activities and your risk increases as you get older. To help prevent falls:
- Install carpet with short, dense pile and secure area rugs with double-sided carpet tape.
- This may seem obvious, but don’t leave things on the floor where you can trip over them.
- Put handrails on both sides of stairways that are the right height for you.
- Arrange furniture so you can easily get around it.
- Keep steps, sidewalks and decks clear of newspapers and sticks, wet leaves, and other debris.
- Clean spills in garages or driveways, such as oil or grease, immediately.
- Most falls in homes occur in the bathroom. Apply no-slip strips to bath tub and shower floors, or provide a slip-resistant mat. Install grab bars in showers, bathtubs, and near toilets.
It is important to have your vision checked by a professional at least once a year. Also engage in regular exercise to improve balance, coordination and lower body strength, after getting approval from your doctor. In practicing healthy behaviors, adults are more likely to live safely and independently at home and incur fewer health-related costs.
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Sources: Home Safety Council, American Association of Retired Persons, Ready America, LifeWork Strategies, and Washington and Shady Grove Adventist Hospitals. For additional information, consult your physician.