Home Safety: What's Wrong With This Picture?

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Aetna Intelihealth InteliHealth Aetna Intelihealth Aetna Intelihealth
 
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Harvard Medical School
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Home Safety: What's Wrong With This Picture?

Healthy Lifestyle
9273
Home Safety: What's Wrong With This Picture?
Home Safety: What's Wrong With This Picture?
Home Safety: What's Wrong With This Picture?
htmHouseGadgetPlain
Your home may house a multitude of hazards that can lead to accidents such as falls.
274066
InteliHealth
2012-08-11
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InteliHealth
2015-06-15

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Home Safety: What's Wrong With This Picture?

Your home may house a multitude of hazards that can lead to accidents such as falls. Falls are the most common cause of accidental death and serious injury in the home, and they are a particular problem for the elderly, who often have limited mobility and problems with balance. You can make a few minor adjustments to your home to optimize your safety in the rooms you use the most. The house below has at least 15 potential safety issues that could be easily fixed. Can you spot them? Click your mouse on the rooms below to see what preventive measures you can take to make your home more safe.

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Lighting

Dim or inadequate
Dim lighting decreases your ability to clearly see furniture or other objects that may be in your way. Make sure that you have enough light fixtures and that the lights themselves are sufficiently bright.

Inaccessible light switches
To turn on light switches that are in the middle of a room, you must first walk across the dark room, which increases your risk of an accident. It is best to install light switches that are immediately accessible when you enter the room.

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Rugs

Curled edges
Rugs that have curled edges may cause you to trip and fall. Carpet edges should be tacked down to prevent curling. In addition, always use a nonskid mat underneath a rug to prevent the rug from slipping as you walk on it. Small throw rugs should be avoided because they slip easily and often have high piles that can cause tripping.

Patterned carpeting
Avoid using carpeting with patterns, which can distort perception in people with poor vision.

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Chairs

Unstable
Chairs that are not sturdy may break if they cannot support your weight. Because older people with balance problems may use chairs for support, be sure that there are no broken or loose elements.

No armrests
Chairs should have armrests that older people can use to help them get up or sit down. Older people, who often have muscle weakness, would benefit from the additional support that armrests provide.

Low seats
Frail elderly persons can have truncal weakness, which makes rising from a low seat difficult. High seats can make rising from a chair easier.

Wheels
Chairs with wheels can slide away if a person is using them for support. Make sure that all chairs in the home are stable.

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Furniture

Obstructs pathways
Furniture that obstructs pathways may cause people to trip, especially people with poor vision. Make sure that all of the high-traffic areas in your home are unobstructed and free from clutter.

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Shelves

Too high to reach
Reaching or standing to reach shelves that are too high increases your risk of an accident. Keep frequently used items in an area that is more easily accessible.

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Tables

Wobbly or unstable
Tables should have sturdy legs and a fixed table top that you can use for support, if necessary. Avoid tripod or pedestal tables, which more easily tip over when they are leaned on.

Avoid glass tabletops
Glass tabletops often have sharp edges that can cause an injury when bumped into. In addition, they can break. Avoid tables with glass tabletops.

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Staircases

Too steep
Stairs that are too steep are one of the biggest home hazards faced by elderly people, who are not as mobile as younger people. To minimize accidents, the riser for each step should ideally be no higher than six inches.

No banisters
It is important that all staircases in your home have banisters or handrails, which help provide balance. Ideally, staircases should have banisters or handrails on both sides.

Unmarked steps
It may be helpful to mark each step, particularly the first and last steps, using a piece of tape or contrasting material to help orient elderly people with poor vision. Avoid using carpeting with patterns, which can distort perception.

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Floors

Too slick
Avoid slippery finishes, and always clean up any spills as soon as possible.

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Tubs Or Showers

Need grab bars
Tubs and showers are often slippery, which can lead to falls. Grab bars can be installed for support and to help people get in and out. In addition, a mat or nonskid strips should always be used to prevent sliding on the wet floor.

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Bathrooms

Not lit
Elderly people, prone to poor vision, may become disoriented. It may be helpful to use lighting in the bathroom at night as a reminder of its location.

 

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Windows

Blocked by things
For fire safety, there should always be one window per room that can be exited easily. Keep furniture away from the windows.

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Smoke Detectors

Should be functional
All homes should have functioning smoke detectors. Be sure to check the batteries regularly to ensure that they are working.

 

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dmtContent
Last updated August 11, 2012


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