With Winter’s ice, snow and cold upon us, there will be increased opportunities for injuries around the home.
Let’s talk about some home safety hazards, how we can try to prevent them, and what to do if it happens.
Falls are one of the most common safety hazards around the home.
From babies falling off high places, or toppling as they learn to walk, to seniors who may be unsteady on their feet or tripping on unsafe paths throughout the home.
There are several things we can do to reduce the hazard.
Buckle babies up whenever possible. They can be quick little movers and it takes that one second for something bad to occur when you’re reaching for something or looking away.
As toddlers begin to walk, they usually start out with the unbalanced run. Although they are as cute as can be doing so, they are running for danger towards that furniture corner and will get hurt.
Pad those hard pointed surfaces and remove whatever they can trip over until they are no longer a threat to child safety.
Remove the pretty glass décor and dangerous items that kids can grab and injure themselves, let alone ruin on you. All the things that make the home beautiful can come back when the child understands the hazard. Some learn quicker than others, hopefully not through experience. Install safety gates at dangerous areas and stairs.
When reprimanding the child of what not to do or touch, do so with a stern voice and tell them why. They understand more than we think sometimes. When they listen, give them credit for it, showing them how you notice they listened and how proud you are.
Take a walk around the home and identify safety hazards.
As we age our vision and balance isn’t what it used to be.
Falls occur when we’re trying to be the quick movers we used to be (ha, yes, I’m including myself in this category and from the voice of experience). Those steps going up or down are our enemy. Taking your time and holding on is a good start. If we shouldn’t be using the stairs, then wait for help and don’t be too shy or proud to ask for it. It’s better than needing help with the potential injuries incurred, right?
Area rugs are such trip hazards for everyone but more so for seniors. They can be slippery as well.
Remove any rugs that can pose a problem and use slip proof backings.
Use that cane or walker if needed even for short trips from one room to another.
If you are thinking about climbing on that ladder, think again… Only Clarke Griswold can survive a ladder accident without landing in the ER with injuries. The rest of us will have broken something or worse as you can imagine
If the ground appears slippery, don’t take any chances. If there is no opportunity to salt the area, and your shoes are not slip proof, avoid the hazard. Wait for help.
We may have loved to shovel snow for exercise and the need to get out of the driveway, however that is a recipe for trouble as we age. Falling and exerting the heart can lead to a trip to the hospital.
It can be frustrating to have to wait for help and costly to hire someone, however a wise decision for the most part.
Wear an alert item or carry the phone with you should you need help in an emergency.
Fire is another top hazard around the home.
Be sure to have smoke and carbon detectors around the home and change those batteries occasionally.
If you can’t manage this yourself, contact your local fire department and ask for assistance.
Medication management can be a challenging task as a senior. Over taking is as dangerous as not taking meds properly as prescribed. There are methods and help to organizing your daily medications.
Contact your doctor’s office or pharmacy for assistance.
Choking is also one of the most dangerous causes of injury and death to both children and seniors.
Choking on food or items children put in their mouth can be avoided in some part.
Cutting up food is best. Inspect toys with small or removable parts. Is it just instinct for babies to put everything and anything in their mouth? Every child in my experience has done that.
As little as they may be we have to sternly tell them not to put everything in their mouth and again why it is dangerous.
Seniors may not have the tooth strength to chew food totally or have throat issues and end up in a choking situation.
Keeping food moist and cut in small portions can help.
Learning CPR can potentially save a life.
Household tools can become hazards if not used safely or maintained properly.
Keep sharp tools safely stored away from children’s reach.
If you think it’s not wise to trim those shrubs or cut that branch that’s beyond your reach, let it be until you are not alone and again, ask for help.
Pool drowning can happen even after Summer is over.
Beyond keeping the typical pool safety rules in swimming season, it is also dangerous in the off season when the pool is covered. Educate the children of the dangers of going near the covered pool and keep the area lit so it can be seen in the mostly dark hours of Winter.
As these hazards are particularly popular causes of injury, consider having talks with loved ones of safety precautions and how to react when something happens.
Many times awareness is a good start to keeping it safe around the home.
Donna DeLauro is a Realtor at RE/MAX Real Estate Center in Coventry. She is also a Senior Real Estate Specialist and the Proud Founder of Mature Matters.