A home safety checklist for seniors is a great way to assess an entire living space and determine where potential hazards could arise. Falls and injuries can occur in any room in the home. They are most prevalent in places like bathrooms and staircases, but hazards can be present in each and every room. It is important to make a list of all potential safety concerns and take preventative measures to address each and every one.
Statistics About Home Safety
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), approximately 1.4 million seniors, age 65 or older, are treated in emergency rooms for injuries related to consumer products each year. Although injuries in and around the home can happen in many different ways, falls usually tend to be the biggest culprit.
These numbers shed some light on just how prone to falls and injury seniors can be in their home:
- Over 8 million hospital ER trips are the result of falls, which is the leading cause of visits
- According to the CPSC, more than two million fall injuries each year are the product of floors and flooring materials
- 1 and three people over the age of 65 in the United States experiences a fall each year
- Incidence of falls rises as each decade of living passes
- 60% of fall-associated deaths occur in those who are 75 or older
Being Prepared for Emergency Situations
If you wait until an emergency situation rears its head, it will already be too late. It is important to prepare in advance and not only take preventative measures but also have a plan in place if you need to exit your house quickly or get help.
Fire safety should be a part of any home safety checklist for seniors. Seniors are at higher risk than others when it comes to residential fires. The elderly are three times more likely to pass away in a residential fire than those who are younger.
Having your home assessed is necessary to determine what your smoke alarm needs are. Once you’ve had an assessment, you will know where you need smoke alarms and which rooms they need to be installed. Being educated when it comes to fire safety could wind up saving your life.
Are the Rooms in Your Home Safe?
A common misconception is that injuries occurring to seniors within their homes are usually related to falls on stairs or in bathrooms. Injuries and dangers within the home are not limited to falling, however, and can happen in many different ways. Home safety could potentially be at risk in almost any room in a given house. Any home safety checklist for seniors should include each part of the home.
The bathroom is one of the most common locations for injuries to occur within the homes of the elderly. Not only can injury happen in the shower, but the shower can also cause the floor to get wet which can create an unsafe/dangerous environment outside of it. These are a few of the things that should be tended to in the bathroom:
- Tub or shower should be equipped with a non-slip surface
- If the shower has doors, they should be made of safety glass or plastic
- Grab bars should be installed both by the toilet and the bathtub
- Towel bars should be sturdy and installed correctly
- Flooring should consist of textured tile, a matte finish or should be covered with low pile commercial carpet
- The lighting should be even, sufficient, and glare-free. The light switch should be near the door
- Door should open outward
- A ventilation system and safe, supplemental heat source
- Outlets should protect from electric shock
- A bath or shower seat should be accessible
Climbing or descending a staircase can prove to be extremely dangerous even for healthy, middle-aged adults. It’s not hard to understand why so many seniors suffer injuries as a result of an unsafe, shoddy staircase. The stairs should be a part of any home safety checklist for the elderly. Here are some precautions that can be taken to make sure your staircase is as safe as possible:
- Stair construction: Stairs should always be evenly built. If they are not dimensionally uniform, it exponentially increases the odds of tripping and falling
- Stairs should be clear: This sounds obvious, but people leave things on staircases all of the time including books, papers, or shoes
- Staircase lighting: Every staircase in your house should have sufficient lighting throughout so that you can clearly see each step
- Maintenance: If carpet or tread is worn, it can be very dangerous and cause a fall. Replace any worn tread or carpet on your staircase immediately
- Placement: Sometimes people are unaware of the presence of a stair in poorly lit areas or in parts of the home where the patterns and colors run into each other
- Handrails: Every staircase should have a functional, sturdy handrail. Circular rails are best as they are easier to grip completely compared to rectangular rails
When it comes to a household safety checklist, the kitchen may be one of the last rooms in your house that you think to address. However, many accidents can occur in the kitchen, so it is imperative to check this list to make sure you are taking the proper precautions:
- Your kitchen should be equipped with a fire extinguisher that is less than ten years old and is verified to work
- The area around the stove should be clean and free of clutter. Grease, towels, potholders, and curtains are all examples of things that could easily catch fire
- Ventilation and exhaust in the kitchen are paramount. Without proper ventilation, carbon monoxide or indoor air pollutants may accumulate and make the air unsafe
- Never leave cooking food unattended. Anything on a stove top should be supervised at all times
- All electrical appliances and cords should be kept away from the sink or anywhere there is water. Cords should also be kept away from hot surfaces
- All countertop appliances such as toasters, coffeemakers, etc., should be protected by ground-fault circuit interrupters
- A sturdy step-stool with a handrail should be on hand for reaching up onto shelves or high cabinets to retrieve items
Yes, even bedroom safety precautions are important to take and need to be a part of any home safety checklist for seniors. Injuries and accidents can happen in any room of the house, and the bedroom is no different than any other. There are steps you can take to ensure that your bedroom is as safe as possible:
- Make sure there is an easy to reach light that you can get to from your bed
- The path from your bedroom to the nearest bathroom should have enough lighting so that you can see if you need to get up in the middle of the night
- Cords are a tripping hazard; if there’s a phone in your bedroom that is not within reach from your bed, you should consider moving it closer
- If you wear eyeglasses, make sure they are also well within reach in case you need to get up in the middle of the night for any reason
- A lamp or flashlight should be kept within range of your bed so that if you lose power for any reason, you have access to light
- Have a sturdy chair with arms in your bedroom so that you can sit to dress if need be
- Candles, ash trays, hot plates, or any other potential fire sources should be kept far away from curtains, furniture, beds, and bedding
Living Room/Living Area Safety
Living rooms typically have televisions with cords, telephones, tables, chairs, and many other things in them that could potentially cause a resident to get hurt. You may also have a fireplace in your living room area which has safety concerns of its own. Here are a few of the things that should be a part of any elderly home safety checklist when it comes to the living room:
- If you have a chimney and a fireplace, make sure it is evident before use. A clogged chimney can result in poisonous fumes and smoke entering the home
- Check all rugs/carpet to make sure it is level with the ground. If either of these surfaces bunches up, they could cause you to trip and fall
- Remove low coffee tables, foot rests or any other object that is low to the ground and blocking a clear path through the room
- Do not run cords under a rug and keep all pathways clear of wires that could cause you to trip
- Discard any furniture that feels loose or wobbly as it could create a safety hazard
Wrapping Things Up
Home safety is something all seniors should take very seriously. As we age, we become a little less physically capable as we once were and can become more vulnerable to injuries within our home. Accidents can occur anywhere within the confines of our residency, so a home safety checklist for seniors is highly recommended.
Have you come across any unique safety hazards at home that you’d like to share or discuss? Let us know below in the comments section!