Home Safety for All Ages

We could list numerous statistics concerning accidents in the home and some of their outcomes. But, we all know the dangers lurking in our domiciles. Children and Senior Citizens are most vulnerable and, sadly, suffer the most from them. A senior tripping and breaking a hip or a toddler finding a loose medicine tablet and ingesting it can have disastrous results. However, with little effort and expense homes with seniors and children can be made so much safer and prevent tragedies.

After much research we have listed some actions to take to safe your home. There are dozens of resources available on the Internet and through other organizations. We encourage you to review both the senior and child areas below and apply those things that will help you.

Senior Home Safety

  • General Items

    • Consider using medical alert devices. These devices are vastly improved and very effective. Research providers in our area for one who best fills your needs and for reliability.
    • Install at one smoke detector and fire extinguisher per floor in your home. Change batteries each time we change time (EST-EDT/EDT-EST). If you sleep with your bedroom door closed then install an additional smoke detector in your bedroom. Contact the Department for detectors and assistance with installation, if necessary.
    • Set water temperature to 120 degrees to prevent accidental scalding.
    • SECURITY: Never "hide" spare house keys under mats, flower pots, etc. Instead have a neighbor keep a spare for you or lock one in your vehicle.
    • After sitting, lying down, napping or sleeping, get up slowly and ensure you have good balance and allow blood pressure to adjust.
    • If using a walking device, make sure it fits you properly and accurately measured for you.
    • Remove or secure all throw rugs to prevent tripping.
    • Post all emergency contact numbers at EVERY phone in the house.
    • Create an emergency exit plan that covers all areas of the home. Make sure all windows and doors open and close easily and freely.
    • Walking to the mailbox is good exercise however, if it is too much for you contact your mail carrier about relocating the box closer. Its been my experience that your carrier will help you in any manner possible.
    • Inspect floor areas periodically to ensure all trip hazards have been removed. DO NOT wax floors.
    • Promptly clean all spills form floors.
    • Avoid using ladders or chairs.
    • Use higher (100) watt lighting.

  • Central Living Area

    • Arrange furniture to allow adequate walkways and keep them free of clutter or cords.
    • Again, remove or secure throw rugs or runners.
    • Place a lamp table next to your favorite chair and place a phone with emergency numbers posted nearby and other needed items on it.

  • Kitchen

    • Use brighter lighting especially in work areas/counter tops.
    • Use sharp knives and store them in a rack or butcher block.
    • If necessary, mark appliance on/off positions with colored tape or paint.
    • Keep dish towels, potholders, curtains, etc away from the stove top.
    • Store easily accessible fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
    • Clean-up all spills quickly.
    • Store frequently used or heavy items on lower shelves and use an arm extender/safety step stool for higher higher shelves.
    • Avoid wearing loose fitting clothing while cooking.
    • Inspect food stuffs for expiration date and rotate your stock prior to using. DO NOT store any cleaning supplies or other non-food items with food.

  • Stairs

    • Keep all clutter off stairways.
    • Install light switches at the top and bottom of stairs.
    • Absolutely install sturdy handrails for your stairs.
    • Replace or remove worn/frayed carpeting. Use non-slip adhesive coating/pads. Consider painting the leading edges of each step with a contrasting color to improve depth perception.

  • Bathroom

    • Use only non-skid bath rugs and remove all other rugs.
    • Employ a nite-lite in the bathroom.
    • Install "grab" bars in showers/bathtubs and around toilets. If necessary, use a bathing chair.
    • Use full size non-skid bath mats in tubs and showers or, at a minimum, place adhesive non-skid pads to prevents falls.
    • Mark hot and cold water facets clearly and set the water temperature to no more than 120 degrees.
    • Door locks should operate on both sides of the door.

  • Bedrooms

    • Install nite-lites in the bedroom and along the way to the bathroom.
    • Keep clutter off the floor and from around the bed...especially clothing.
    • Use nightstands with a lamp and phone with emergency numbers.
    • If you sleep with the door closed install an additional smoke detector.
    • Upon waking, get up slowly to maintain good balance.
    • Adjust bed heights so they are low enough to sit comfortably but high enough to allow easy standing.

  • Outside Areas

    • Remove or repair object that present a trip hazard such as rocks, walkway stones, edging around flower beds, etc.
    • Install handrails on all steps/stairs.
    • Paint leading edges of steps with bright contrasting colors to improve vision or depth perception.
    • Trim or remove hedges, trees and scrubs that block the view of your home from the road/street.
    • Ensure garages/workshops are well ventilated, brightly lit and that doors and windows open/close freely.
    • Before working in flower beds or around scrubs look closely for snakes or other dangerous insects.

  • Drug Safety

    • With each visit to your Doctor or Pharmacist, ask about the medications you are taking and how they may interact with each other. Especially if being prescribed new meds, also, ask about side effects. Not that you doubt your Doc but we all make mistakes.
    • Use day/night tablet containers to ensure no mistakes are made when taking medicine.
    • Make sure each medicine container (bottle) is clearly marked as to contents and dosage requirements.
    • Out-of-date or no longer used meds should be discarded by flushing down the toilet.
    • Keep drugs/medicines out of the reach of children.
    • Before mixing medications and alcohol, check with your doctor/pharmacist.
    • If possible ask that your medications be issued in bubble/blister packs as they are easier to get out.
    • Before mixing prescription drugs and over the counter medications, get advice from your pharmacist.
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Child Safety In The Home

  • General Household

    • Keep all rooms clear of medicine bottles, coins, loose pills, scissors and any other small or sharp objects.
    • Keep all blind/curtain cords secured with cord clips or even clothespins and out of reach.
    • Store all firearms and ammunition securely and use trigger locks if necessary.
    • Research all houseplants for toxicity.
    • Are family pets calm and accepting of the child and, are there pets (dogs) in the neighborhood or close to your yard?
    • Remove all trip hazards such as throw rugs, cords, etc.
    • Install finger pinch locks on doors. (NOTE: There approx 15,000 amputations per year from doors).
    • Can doors exiting the house be locked so the toddler cannot reach them? Use knob covers to prevent entrance into rooms that pose a danger.
    • Remove/replace doorstops in the one piece design or remove rubber tips from older style doorstops.
    • Place some sort of sticker on glass doors so they won't be mistaken as open. Install childproof locks on sliding glass doors to prevent toddlers from getting out of the house.
    • Upstairs windows should be secured to prevent opening by toddlers.
    • Secure shelving with brackets and make sure TVs, stereos, etc are placed against the wall and also secured to prevent tipping over.
    • Verify that any and all used child equipment/chairs/cribs are in good repair and not subject to manufacture recall.
    • Install padding on all furniture and counter tops with sharp corners.
    • Mount safety gates where needed and especially to block access to stairways.
    • Install safety device to prohibit a child from slipping his head between stairway banister rails. Make sure that stairway rails are secure.
    • Keep access to any basement or attic locked or blocked.
    • Install electrical outlet plugs in ALL unused outlets.
    • Childproof all exposed heat sources such as baseboard heaters.
    • Revise your emergency evacuation plan to include the child...Think of all possible scenarios.
    • Post emergency numbers beside every phone in your home and pre-program these numbers into your cell phones. The first number being 911.

  • Kitchen (Probably the MOST dangerous room in the house for children)

    • Install childproof latches on ALL cabinet doors and drawers. Make sure ALL knives, sharp objects and lighters/matches are always securely stored.
    • Use dishwasher locks to prevent access to breakables and utensils.
    • Equip stoves with knob protectors and door locks.
    • Keep chairs and step-stools away from the stove.
    • Secure breakables and appliances with blades out of reach.
    • Be sure to keep all pot handles turned inward when in use.
    • Unplug all appliances when not in use and store them securely.
    • Store medications, vitamins and other supplements out of reach.
    • Store cleaning supplies, bleach, alcohol, insect sprays and other potential poisons up and out of reach and preferably NOT under the kitchen sink...even with childproof locks installed.
    • Store trash cans inside a locked cabinet...under the sink?
    • Store garbage bags, sandwich bags, plastic wrap securely.
    • Make sure any refrigerator magnets or any small objects are well out of reach.
    • If using a highchair, is it approved by a recognized safety organization to include a seatbelt with a strap between the legs.

  • Child's Room/Bedroom

    • Changing/dressing tables should be equipped with a restraining belt.
    • Be sure all painted chairs, cribs, bassinets, etc were not painted with lead based paint (prior 1978).
    • Ensure crib side rails are up and that locks function properly and hold under a downward pressing load.
    • Slats in side rails must be 2 3/8" or less apart.
    • Crib mattresses should be firm and flat and fit snugly inside the frame.
    • Do not supply the crib with overly soft pillow, large stuffed animals or soft bedding.
    • Keep all strings, twine or other potential chocking hazard out of and away from the crib and ensure any window blind or curtain cords are safely secured. (EXCEPTION: strings used to secure crib bumpers must be 6 inches or shorter.
    • Are all pieces of bedroom furniture secured to walls or to prevent tip overs and are drawers secured with childproof locks? HOWEVER, toy boxes/containers should NOT lock and lids should be equipped with devices to prevent them from slamming shut.
    • Is sleepwear flame retardant and all drawstrings removed from clothing.

  • Bathroom

    • Keep water heater thermostat set and no more than 120 degrees.
    • Secure all razors, scissors, tweezers and other sharp/pointed items secured in childproof drawers/containers.
    • Childproof all drawers and cabinet doors.
    • Secure all cleaning supplies in secured cabinets.
    • Keep toilet lids down and equip lids with lid locks.
    • Unplug all electrical (razors, hair dryers, etc) when not in use.
    • Use non-skid mats or strips in tubs/showers.
    • Remove rugs/mats or ensure they are secured so not to slip or cause falls/trips.
    • Lock away all medications (OTC and prescribed) and cosmetics, perfumes and lotions.

  • Laundry Rooms, Garages, Storage Areas

    • Keep washing machine and dryer lids closed and secured. Store detergents, bleach and other laundry products locked away or stored they are not easily accessed.
    • If present, lock laundry chutes.
    • Recycle bins should placed out of reach...especially glass and metal collection containers.
    • Use childproof locks on all workshop cabinets and drawers. Lock all toolboxes and store other sharp tools (saws, screwdrivers, cutters, etc) where they cannot be accessed.
    • Remove keys from motorized equipment. Those items not requiring a key should be configured to prevent accidental starting. Store shovels, hoes and other gardening/yard equipment in a locked cabinet/storage closet.
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3301 Highway 357 • Inman, SC 29349 • 864-848-4107 • Fax: 864-848-4132
© 2012 Holly Springs Volunteer Fire Department