If you or a loved one is living at home, especially alone, it's important to make safety a priority. Besides making the home safe to live in the way of simple day to day activities, you also want to be mindful of protection against those who prey on the elderly.
Unfortunately, many seniors find themselves the victims of crime and scams right in their homes. By taking certain safety measures, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from dangers inside and outside the home.
Tips to Make Your Home Safer on the Inside
When you look around your house or the home of your loved one, you may not notice simple things you can do to make everyday living safer. Take a second look around and see if you notice any of the things on our safety checklist.
- Loose Railings. Whether or not someone is prone to falls or not, a loose railing can result in serious injury. Be sure all hardware is fastened tightly so that when someone leans on the railing, it is sturdy and does not fail.
- De-clutter. Clutter can cause trips and falls. Clear floors and stairs of any objects that can easily be tripped over.
- Secure rugs. If there are area rugs in the home be sure they are secured so that no one will slide or trip. There are rug fasteners you can buy at any hardware store to keep rugs in place. It's a simple measure that can go a long way when it comes to safety.
- Don't wear loose sleeves while cooking. If you or a loved one is still able to stand at the stove and cook, avoid wearing loose-fitting sleeves as they can easily catch on fire.
- Be mindful of candles. Don't leave candles lit at bedtime or if you're leaving the home. Also be sure to never smoke in bed as that it is the cause of many house fires across the country.
- Check bathroom safety. Many slips and falls can occur in the bathroom. You can prevent these by installing grab bars near the toilet and in the shower as well as bathmats on the shower floor.
- Get a medical alert system. If you are living alone it may be worth investing in a medical alert system. There are many different types of systems to choose from but the idea is the same in pretty much all models. If you fall or are in need of emergency attention, simply press the button on your medical alert system (which you should have on you at all times). This will signal a call to 911 and can alert any family members you have designated as emergency contacts.
- Be sure smoke detectors work. Just because there is smoke detector visible in your home or apartment complex, doesn't mean it is working. Have smoke detectors tested and be sure to change the batteries twice a year.
- Buy a grabber. If you're living alone and need to grab something out of reach, don't try to stand on a chair or ladder. Rather buy a reacher that you can use to grab items. Better yet, try to keep everything you need on a daily basis in arm's length. This will prevent any accidents as you try to get something that isn't close by.
If you are looking to safety proof your home and aren't sure what you need or don't have the ability to do it, there are companies you can hire to come in and do it for you. In order to get a reputable company that won't scam you, ask your doctor for recommendations. Doctor's offices typically have access to this type of information and will send you to only reputable companies.
Tips to Protect Against Outside Danger
As much as you try to accident-proof your home from the inside, you can't forget to protect yourself from the dangers that lurk on the outside. As we mentioned, many look at senior citizens as easy prey when it comes to crime victims.
You can protect yourself from these types of dangers by keeping the following things in mind:
- Never open your door to a stranger. Although this may sound like a common sense tip, many people will open their door to someone who presents himself as a maintenance worker or someone in authority. Always try to speak through the door and keep your door locked at all times. Be sure to keep your windows locked at all times as well, especially if you're on the ground floor. If you notice something suspicious call 911 right away. Don't try to take matters into your own hands.
- Don't give personal information over the phone. These days there are types of scams out there, even from those pretending to be the IRS by scaring people to give them money. Never give your personal information or bank information over the phone. If you suspect you are being targeted by a scam artist, contact your local police department.
- Invest in an alarm system. An alarm system provides great peace of mind when you're out and especially when you're home. Consider investing in one to detract intruders. Many alarm system companies will also provide you with signage to let others know an alarm system is on the premise. This can serve as a great crime deterrent as many would-be thieves won't try to break in if they think an alarm system is in place.
Making the home safer for yourself or a loved one doesn't need to be difficult. Make a list of the items that need attention so that you don't overlook anything. Remember, many of the home safety tips are easy to handle. Following them can make all the difference.
Be Proactive: Prepare Your Home for a Natural Disaster or Other Emergency
You never know when a natural disaster like an earthquake, flood, or landslide could strike in your neighborhood, endangering you and your home. It's best to be proactive, create a plan of action, and put together an emergency kit so that you're prepared. Jeff Hoyt, our editor-in-chief, will walk you through everything you need to know to prepare for a disaster in the video above.