Slips and falls are some of the most common household accidents, affecting everyone from toddlers learning how to walk to grandparents with declining mobility. However, there are simple solutions to the slip-and-fall hazards in your home. This guide describes some of the ways you can make your home safer for all your loved ones.
Easily Navigate Entryways
When bad weather strikes your hometown, your entryway can become a hazardous area where people may slip on frozen or wet surfaces. Even under the best of circumstances, people with impaired mobility can find entryways to be a challenge. These easy modifications can help everyone navigate your entry safely:
- If you have stairs at the entrance to your home, installing handrails or grab bars on both sides can help with balance and stability.
- You might also add anti-skid tread tape to the front edge of entry stairs to help reduce slipping, and using a contrasting color can serve as a visual aid.
- Clear any clutter off the steps or sidewalk leading to your door. Remind children of the dangers of slips and falls, and make sure that you clear away garden tools, shoes and other items to allow easy access to your home.
- Whenever possible, create level walkways with little or no slope leading to the entry of your home.
- If you have a welcome mat at your entry, make sure it is secure to avoid a tripping hazard. You can use anti-skid tape to help make sure your rug is safe.
- Do not use a raised threshold at the entry door, so wheelchairs, strollers or rolling luggage can get in and out of your home easily.
- Consider an automatic garage door opener to allow easy entry without having to bend or stretch to raise the door.
Clever Kitchen Solutions
To prevent slips and falls in the kitchen, consider ways to minimize stretching, reaching, bending, lifting and carrying. These tips are easy to integrate in any home, and establishing good habits now can serve you well for your entire lifetime:
- Spills happen frequently in the kitchen, and they create a serious risk for slips. Clean up kitchen messes quickly, and make sure you dry the area thoroughly.
- Slide-out shelving and Lazy Susans in corner cabinets, refrigerators and other storage areas can help you reach items easily without having to bend or squat. Staying in a comfortable position will minimize the risk of losing your balance.
- Store pots and pans within easy reach. Don't use high shelves for items that you will need frequently, and consider investing in an inexpensive reacher to help you grab items from shelves.
Trip-Safe Living Room
The living room is often where the most action happens in a family home, so it is a place that can collect a lot of clutter. Area rugs, unruly cords and clumsy furniture can all create hazards. A few easy adjustments can help you make your living room safer:
- De-clutter your living room. If you have unnecessary furniture, consider removing a few pieces to make more room to move. Lower items like coffee tables or ottomans can create serious hazards, so make sure they are out of the way. Secure electric cords and telephone wires to avoid a tripping hazard.
- Avoid falls when taking a seat or getting up by making sure that your sofas and chairs are not so low that people have to collapse into them or strain themselves to get up. Consider using risers to elevate low seating, or use a pillow as a quick fix to make cushions higher for the elderly or mobility-impaired.
- Make sure that area rugs are secure by putting a non-slip mat underneath them. If someone who is elderly or mobility-impaired is in your home, consider removing the area rugs altogether to prevent the risk of tripping on the edge of a carpet.
- While thick carpets can be attractive, they can also create a risk of a trip. Consider replacing them with low-pile carpet, or leave the floors uncovered. Hardwood or laminate flooring is the ideal choice to keep the floor surface even.
Better Mobility in the Bedroom
Your bedroom should be one of the safest places in your home, but it can become an area where slips and falls are a risk, particularly at night. Making a few modifications can help you keep your sanctuary safe:
- Install a nightlight or two in the bedroom, and make sure that you illuminate the path to the bathroom well.
- Keep the floor area clutter-free. Before you go to bed at night, remove any items of clothing or shoes that you might have tossed on the floor to ensure safe passage for anyone for whom nature calls in the night.
- If you live in a home with multiple stories, consider locating the master bedroom on the first floor. Moving up and down stairs can become more challenging with age, and you will appreciate having an easily accessible bedroom.
- If you have trouble getting into and out of a bed because it is too low, try raising your bed using risers to make it more accessible.
- Keep essential items such as a flashlight, a telephone, drinking water and nighttime medications close at hand in the bedroom. A bedside table is the perfect place to store these items, so you won't find yourself stumbling around in the dark.
Create a Slip-Free Bathroom
Because of the slick surfaces and moisture in bathrooms, they can be danger zones for slip-and-fall risks. However, the steps you should take to protect your family against bathroom slips are easy and inexpensive.
- Take it slow. Hurrying in the bathroom can make you more inclined to get hurt, so take your time getting into and out of the bathroom.
- Use non-skid bath mats to keep the floors dry and to provide a safe, warm space to step out of showers or baths.
- Get organized with a bath organizer, and avoid bending or stretching when you are in the shower. Bending and stretching motions can create situations where you are off-balance and more likely to fall, so store all your bath items conveniently within arm's reach.
- Adding a chair to your bathroom can make grooming more enjoyable. Blow dry and style hair, shave, and brush your teeth from a comfortable, seated position, and reduce the risk of slips and falls.
- A toilet seat riser or safety rails near the toilet can make it easier to get up and down, and these tools can help minimize the risk of losing your balance while getting on and off the toilet.
- If you are considering remodeling, a barrier-free, walk-in shower with a sturdy seat is ideal.
- A hand-held showerhead will give you lots of flexibility and comfort, and will minimize awkward positioning in the shower that could lead to a slip.