Many older Americans are injured in and around their homes every year, mainly from falls and fires. Many of these and other injuries result from hazards that are easy to overlook, but also easy to fix. By spotting these hazards and taking simple steps to correct them, seniors can prevent such injuries, and stay independent longer.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has developed an extensive checklist (download it here) to prepare for an emergency and to spot possible safety problems in your home, but here are their Top Ten Tips:
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms throughout your home.
- Have an emergency escape plan and pre-arrange for a family member or caregiver to help you escape, if needed.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen in case of fire.
- Make sure there is good lighting inside and outside your home to help prevent falls.
- Make sure walking surfaces are flat, slip resistant, free of objects, and in good condition to avoid falls.
- Keep ashtrays, smoking materials, candles, hot plates and other potential fire sources away from curtains, furniture, blankets and other combustibles. Never leave them unattended.
- Have fuel burning appliances, including furnaces and chimneys, inspected by a professional every year to make sure they are working properly and not leaking poisonous carbon monoxide.
- Install ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs, in potentially damp locations such as the kitchen, bathroom, garage, near utility tubs or sinks, and on the exterior of the house to protect against electrocution.
- Make sure all medications, matches, and lighters are stored out of children’s reach. Keep all medications in child-resistant enclosures.
- Set your hot water heater to no more than 120° F to help prevent burns.