Part 4. Sixty Ways to Stay Safe

Using Distress Alarm Call Button

Part 4. Sixty Ways to Stay Safe

Safety wasn’t something we thought much about when we were younger, but as we age, it becomes an important factor in every facet of our lives. As more and more of us live independently, we are susceptible to accidents and have to be alert to possible hazards all around us. Falls, burns, poisoning, and automobile accidents are the most common sources of injury among our age group. Exposure to temperature extremes, which are occurring in many parts of the United States, puts us at risk for injury or death. Here are sixty suggestions to help us be aware of risks, avoid them, prevent them, and deal with them if they happen.

  1. For every potential danger you can think of, there are numerous preventive actions you can take to keep yourself safe. While some of them will require outside assistance, you can do many things to protect yourself.
  2. There is a lot to think about if you plan to safety-proof your immediate environment. Obviously, you can’t tackle everything all at once, but the more you know about the risks involved, the better prepared you can be to deal with them.
  3. If you know you’re going to get up during the night, make sure the area around your bed is clear. It doesn’t matter if the offending obstacle is a big stuffed pillow or a small stuffed animal. They are equally dangerous.
  4. Being constantly afraid may kill you faster than violence itself. An ongoing fear for personal safety can systematically destroy brain cells. Become aware of potential dangers, make sensible plans for actions you can take, and then put an end to chronic worry about safety.
  5. The sixth sense that kept you from tripping on items in the past may not be as sharp today. If you aren’t aware of what is around you, your home can easily turn into an obstacle course.
  6. Where do you spend most of your time in your home? That’s where you should start your decluttering project.
  7. Take a room-by-room inventory of what is out of place, on the floor, making a mess, or posing a risk of tripping.
  8. Declutter your house one room at a time. If decluttering doesn’t come naturally to you, Amazon lists 2,000 books on the subject, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the help you need.
  9. Eliminate footstools, coffee tables, and anything with sharp edges you can trip over or bump into.
  10. Remove scatter rugs and carpets from stairs to prevent slipping.
  11. Install better, brighter lighting to make sure you can see everything in the room.
  12. Check the location of light switches, and move them if they can’t be easily reached by someone in a wheelchair.
  13. Get rid of defective or broken outdoor furniture.
  14. Don’t leave toys, bicycles, or equipment in the driveway.
  15. Stairs, either inside or outside your home, are accidents waiting to happen. To see steps on a staircase more clearly, alternate each stair with colored carpeting, paint, or strips of tape. And, of course, clear everything off them.
  16. Install handrails on both sides of the stairs; tighten stair handrails both inside and outside the house. Grabbing a loose handrail can be more dangerous than not having a handrail at all.
  17. Consider a chairlift if climbing stairs becomes too difficult.
  18. If shoveling snow and chipping ice off stairs in the winter are too big a challenge, delegate the job to a younger family member, or hire a neighbor.
  19. Tuck away power strips and extension cords behind furniture to prevent tripping.Tape down any cords that can’t be hidden.
  20. Turn off all stove burners when you leave the kitchen unless you are making something that has to simmer. If that’s the case, set a timer in the kitchen and on your watch or smart phone.
  21. Don’t leave anything cooking on the stove or in the oven when you leave the house.
  22. Be careful when you pour hot liquids from one container to another.
  23. Have your appliances serviced every six months. Make sure the vents in your clothes dryer are cleaned by a professional to prevent the risk of fire.
  24. Be sure your countertops are easy to reach and large enough to work on. If you are in a wheelchair, have a contractor lower your countertops for ease-of-use.
  25. Keep sharp knives in drawers, in special knife holders, and away from the edge of counters. Sharpen them regularly because dull knives are dangerous to use.
  26. Check your faucets to make sure they are easy to turn on and off. When you walk away from the sink, be sure they are off.
  27. If you spill something on the floor, clean it up immediately. Wet spots on the floor are a common cause of falls.
  28. Do not mix two different cleaning supplies together. If you run out of one, replace it.
  29. If you have grandchildren who love to open cabinets, put ties on the handles to keep the doors closed. Keep your cleaning supplies together in a safe place out of their reach.
  30. Don’t place items you need on high shelves that require a bench or stepladder to reach. Avoid using a stepladder when you are alone. If possible, ask someone to hand you what you need.
  31. To make your home safer, install a reputable security system, sturdy locks on your doors and windows, good outside lighting, and even motion sensors.
  32. Display easily visible alarm-system signs in the front and back of your home and security-system decals on outside windows.
  33. Arrange for a free home-security inspection by contacting the crime prevention unit of your local police department. Most precincts will send an officer to your home to identify any doors, windows, or locks that need to be strengthened or secured.
  34. Install a wide-angle door viewer or peephole at each exterior door. If a stranger comes to your door, don’t pretend you’re not home. Check the viewer to verify the person’s identity and reason for being there. If you are uncomfortable, call the police.
  35. When you are away, create the illusion that you are still at home. Use lamps that go on automatically at a certain time, and leave the TV on.
  36. Make your house numbers easy to read so that police can identify your home if they are called.
  37. Be sure your exterior doors are made of solid core wood or metal.
  38. Put window locks and security latches on sliding glass doors.
  39. Install a security-locking garage door (one that uses secure rolling code technology to prevent easy interception or opening remotely).
  40. Have your shrubs and bushes around the house trimmed back to waist height, and limit the number of trees around your house’s perimeter.
  41. Illuminate entrance areas and walkways using exterior floodlights with a motion-detector switch.
  42. Install a hidden security wall vault for storing valuables and important papers.
  43. Be sure your window shades or blinds cover the entire window.
  44. Put reliable smoke detectors in each zone of your home, and change the batteries on a regular basis.
  45. In your bathrooms, be sure bathmats have nonskid bottoms, and put nonslip mats in the bathtub and shower.
  46. Install grab bars inside the shower stall or just above the bathtub.
  47. Put in a shower seat to make showering safer and more comfortable. Replace the showerhead with a handheld one.
  48. Wherever you are, be aware of your surroundings and people who are nearby.
  49. Don’t go out at night by yourself. Ask a relative or friend to go with you. Make it a point to be around other people.
  50. If you take cabs or use Uber, Lyft, or other private-ride services, stay awake and alert, and avoid personal conversations with the driver.
  51. Never leave your purse unattended, such as in a grocery cart, while you shop. If you do use a purse, get one that straps across your body or use a fanny pack.
  52. Never let strangers know that you live alone or are home alone.
  53. Don’t give out personal information to people you don’t know.
  54. If you move to a new home or apartment, change the locks immediately.
  55. At night, close your curtains or blinds so that no one can see inside your home, and keep your doors and windows locked.
  56. If you are expecting a service or repair person and are uncomfortable about being alone, ask a friend or relative to be with you during the service call.
  57. If you have a security system, set it when you leave the house or when you go to bed at night. Memorize your security code and password.
  58. For your safety and your children’s peace of mind, wear a medical-alert device around your neck or on your wrist. If you are in trouble, feeling threatened, ill, or faint, or if you fall, all you have to do is push the button, and help will arrive within moments.
  59. If you’re having trouble walking, don’t be embarrassed about using a cane or a walker. A choice between accepting the inevitable or taking a bad fall makes the decision pretty obvious. And once you get used to using them, you will feel much steadier and more confident.
  60. When walking unassisted isn’t an option, it’s time to consider a wheelchair or a motorized scooter. Both will require an emotional adjustment and a learning curve. Whatever you use, be sure have the device properly set up by an occupational therapist.