Home Safety Considerations
The easiest way to reduce your risk of injuries is to "fall-proof" your home as much as possible. A cluttered, poorly lit home is an accident waiting to happen.
Review these simple steps for making your home safer. To be most effective, tour your home room-by-room, as well as outside in the garden and garage, to help identify any areas of potential falling risk.
Inside Your Home
General Safety Tips
- Remove loose rugs or secure them with slipresistant tape. Increase the lighting in your home to help compensate for vision impairment. This can be done, either with brighter bulbs (75 watt bulbs are recommended) or with more standing lamps and night lights.
- Consider installing lighted light switches to avoid fumbling in the dark.
- Get into the habit of always closing all cabinets and drawers to avoid trips and falls.
- When possible, avoid, low, short furniture, such as small ottomans.
- Have an upholsterer re-stuff an old, deflated sofa and attach furniture risers under it for height. Higher chairs and sofas, with solid armrests are easier to get in and out of, and are better for your back.
- Keep floors clear of telephone, computer and electrical cords.
Steps and Stairs
- Many people get in the habit of leaving objects on the stairs, to take upstairs later. This becomes a tripping hazard. Keep your stairs clutter-free.
- Make sure carpets and runners are securely fastened. Avoid placing loose rugs at tops or bottoms of stairs.
- Install an additional handrail so that you have a handrail on both sides of the stairs. Keep at least one hand on a rail at all times.
- Get light switches installed at the top and bottom of the stairway.
- Mark the edges of wooden steps clearly with bright non-skid tape or treads.
- Ladies, if you wear high heels, do not wear them around the house, or when going up or down stairs. Consider taking high-heel shoes in a bag with you to occasions where you need them, so you’re wearing safer flat shoes for your actual transportation.
- Use rubber mats or adhesive non-skid strips in the bathtub and/or shower floor.
- Replace loose rugs with slip-resistant ones in front of the bathtub or toilet to prevent slipping when exiting or entering the tub, or getting on and off the toilet.
- Check for loose floor tiles which can be a tripping hazard at night.
- Install grab bars inside the shower and above the bathtub to help you enter and exit safely while bathing.
- If you prefer showers to baths, consider using a bath seat with a handheld shower for more comfort and decreased risk of falls.
- If you’re concerned about your balance, use an elevated and adjustable toilet seat with handles.
- Consider mounting secure grab bars on the wall around the toilet to make both sitting and rising easier and safer.
- Make sure electrical cords from hair dryers or shavers are safely stored and off the floor.
- If you, or a loved one, need caregiver assistance while bathing, remove glass sliding shower doors and replace them with easier-to-access shower curtains.
- Keep a telephone, lamp and flashlight beside your bed to ensure you’re never left fumbling in the dark.
- Install some self-adhesive battery-powered wall lights or night lights to light your path from the bedroom to the bathroom.
- If you feel unsteady, place a stable chair or bedside handrail beside your bed so you can easily get in and out.
- If you use a cane or walker, make sure it is within easy reach before you go to bed.
- Remove throw rugs or secure them with slipresistant tape.
- Get loose tiles fixed.
- Keep dishes, pantry foods, and utensils for cooking within easy reach in waist-high cabinets that are easily accessible.
- Do NOT climb chairs to reach upper cabinets and shelves. Instead, use a step stool, ideally one with an attached handrail for extra support.
Outside Your Home
Unsafe surroundings contribute to falls and are the leading cause of injury around the home.
Outside the House
- Keep walkways and stairs around the house, free from cracks, holes and obstructions.
- Remove moss, wet leaves, ice, snow, and any other debris from walking areas.
- Keep eavestroughs over entrances clear to avoid water overflow and ice buildup.
- Install sturdy handrails on both sides of stairs to the entranceway of your home.
- Consider installing a ramp with handrails. Contact your occupational therapist and building contractor for advice on safe ramp construction.
- Make sure entrances and driveway areas that you use every day are well lit.
- Get stairs, ramps and walkways finished with a non-slip surface sealer. Wood surfaces can be especially slippery after frost or rain. Consider using a broom to add texture when pouring new concrete.
- When faced with an icey or snowy stairway, grip the handrail with both hands, turn sideways to face the railing and go up or down moving one foot at a time. Try to keep your head as level as possible to keep your balance.
- To avoid falling on ice, keep both feet flat and pressed to the ice. Shuffle one foot forward in the direction you want to go followed by shuffling the other foot in the same direction. You can also shuffle sideways.
- Keep your yard, lawn and garage floor free of hazards such as tools, hoses, grease or oil.
- In winter, keep a container with a mixture of sand and salt or ice melt in both your car and at the entrance of your home. Sprinkle some on your way to your vehicle or from your vehicle to your home to allow safe passage over icy areas.