Home Safety Checklist for Seniors
We like to think of our homes as places of carefree relaxation and refuge. But as you age, you need to be more vigilant about how you maintain your home in order to be safe and content in your abode.
The following home safety checklist for seniors outlines what you need to stay protected and healthy while living independently here in San Diego.
- Know who to call. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers by each phone in your house. In addition to 911 and Poison Control, the list should also include the numbers of a family member or friend, and your doctor.
- Wear non-slip footwear. Although slippers are tempting to wear around the house because they’re warm and cozy, unless they have proper traction on the bottoms, such as rubber or no-slip sole, don’t walk around in them, especially on smooth floors.
- Build your strength. Building strength — particularly in your core, where your center of gravity is — can help a lot with improving balance and coordination. Ask your doctor if an exercise program that may help prevent slips and falls is appropriate for you. If you have fallen before, you may want to consider wearing a special alarm bracelet or necklace to call for help in the event of an emergency.
- Keeps pathways and surfaces clear. Stairways, hallways, and kitchen tables are all places that can attract dangerous clutter. Make sure your dining area has adequate space to eat or prepare food, and always clear walkways of items that tend to accumulate, like shoes and boxes.
- Increase visibility. Install bright light bulbs in all overhead light fixtures throughout your home, and use at least a medium-intensity light bulb in all of your lamps. If possible, have a few extra sets of reading or prescription glasses readily available in different areas of the house that you frequently sit or work in.
- Keep it warm, but not too hot. Everyone enjoys a nice warm bath or shower. But if your water temperature isn’t properly regulated, you could risk getting burned. The thermostat on your water heater should never exceed 120°F. Likewise, when heating your home in the colder months, always use proper heating devices such as radiators or space heaters; never use a stove or oven, which can release poisonous carbon monoxide (that you can’t smell or see) into the air. Speaking of, you should also have one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home.
- Hold tight. You may feel confident in your walking ability, but for good measure, hold onto a railing or banister when going up and down stairs. Bathtubs and toilet areas should have grab bars installed on the walls to help with mobility. And be sure to take your time when you’re walking around or getting up — even if the doorbell or phone is ringing. It can wait.
- Protect against fires. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that homes should have smoke alarms installed inside and outside of every bedroom, in the kitchen, and on every floor of the house. Smoke alarm batteries should be replaced twice a year. Here’s how to prevent some of the most common causes of fires in the home:
- Never smoke in bed or leave cigarettes or candles burning in unattended rooms
- Don’t wear clothing with long, loose sleeves while cooking
- To plug multiple devices into one outlet, use powerstrips instead of extension cords. Modern powerstrips dramatically reduce the chance of fire because they have internal circuit-breakers. They’re also far more compact than long, looping extension cords
- A couple times a year, check the cords on all your lamps and appliances to make sure they’re not frayed. If they are, replace them or discontinue use
- Manage medications. The information on prescription bottles can be small and difficult to read. Most pharmacies have large-print labels available for their customers, so don’t be afraid to ask if you need them. Store all pills in their original bottles to avoid mix-ups or expired batches, and take your medications in a brightly-lit room so that you’ve got the correct dosage.
- Stay secure indoors. Keep windows and doors securely closed and locked when you’re home. If you like to have your windows open for fresh air, only open the windows in the room you’re currently in, and consider installing security window screens throughout your home that are tamper-proof. Also, never feel pressured to answer the door for a salesperson or other person unknown to you.