Safety in the Home

Home accidents are a major cause of injury and death, especially for those over 60. As people grow older, they may be less agile and their bones tend to break more easily. A simple fall can result in a disabling injury. All patients need to take special precautions to ensure a safe living environment.

Most accidents in the home can be prevented by the elimination of hazards. Use the attached checklists to determine the safety level of your home. Check each statement that applies to your home. Then review the unchecked boxes to determine what else you can do to make your home a safer place to live.


  • Emergency Phone numbers are posted by each telephone.
  • Outside doors are kept locked at all times
  • Do not open the door to an unfamiliar face. Ask for identification and call someone to verify who they say they are.
  • Door-to-door salesman are not let into your home. They are asked to come back when a friend or family member will be with you.
  • Valuables that may be easily stolen are kept out of sight.
  • Telephone and television solicitations are not accepted. “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
  • Household maintenance (painting, roofing, etc.) is scheduled with a reputable company. Have a friend or family member assist you.


    • Electrical appliances and cords are clean, in good condition and not exposed to liquids.
    • Electrical equipment bears the Underwriters Labs (UL) label.
    • Adequate number of outlets are located in each room where needed.
    • There are no “octopus”: outlets with several plugs being used.
    • Electrical outlets are grounded.
    • Lighting throughout the house is adequate.
    • Burned out lights are replaced.PREVENTING FALLS
    • Stairways and halls are well lighted.
    • Night-lights are used in the bathroom, halls, and passageways.
    • A flashlight with good batteries or a lamp is within easy reach of your bed.
    • Throw rugs are removed or have a nonskid backing and are not placed in traffic areas.
    • All clutter is cleared from the house, especially from pathways.
    • Electrical and telephone cords are placed along walls – not under rugs – and away from traffic areas and do not cross pathways.
    • There are no step stools without high handrails.
    • Handrails are used on stairs and securely fastened.
    • Grab bars are installed by the shower, tub or toilet.
    • Shower stools and non-skid strips are attached to bottom of tub.
    • Elevated toilet seats and stools are used, if needed.
    • Spills are cleaned up immediately.
    • Outside walks are kept clear of snow and ice in the winter.
    • Outside steps and entrances are well lighted.
    • You are aware of any medications being taken which may cause dizziness or unsteadiness.
    • Alcoholic beverages are limited to no more than two per day.
    • When in a seated or lying down position, stand up slowly.
    • A cane can be used for extra stability.
    • Steps & Walkways are in good condition and are free from objects.
    • Steps have non-skid strips or carpeting which is securely fastened and is free from holes and fraying.
    • Light switches are located at the top and bottom of stairways and at both ends of long hallways.
    • Doors do not swing out over stair steps.
    • Clearance in the stairway provides adequate head room.
    • Porches, balconies, terraces and other elevations of depressions are protected by railings or otherwise protected.


    • Curtains are kept away from the stove and other open flame areas.
    • An exhaust hood with filters is present which discharges directly to the outside.
    • The fan is turned on when cooking.
    • Counter space is kept clean and uncluttered.
    • Pan handles are turned away from burners and the edge of the stove.
    • Hot pan holders are kept near the stove.
    • Heavy items are not stored above your easy reach.
    • Cooking on high heat with oils and fat is avoided.
    • Clothing with loose sleeves is not worn when cooking.
    • Refrigeration and proper food storage is used to avoid food poisoning.
    • Kitchen appliances are turned off and unplugged when they are not being used.


    • Bath tub or shower has a non-skid mat or strips in the standing area.
    • Bath tub or shower doors are glazed with safety glass or plastic.
    • Grab bars are installed on the walls by the bath tub or toilet.
    • Towel bars and the soap dish in the shower are made of durable materials; are firmly installed and are not used as grab bars.
    • Electrical appliance (radio, TV, heater) are kept away from the bathtub or shower area.
    • The water heater thermostat is set below 120 degrees F to prevent accidental scalding.
    • Night lights are used to brighten the way to the bathroom at night.HAZARDOUS ITEMS AND POISONS
    • Care is used in storage of hazardous items. They are stored only in their original containers.
    • You know how to contact your poison control team.
    • Products that contain chlorine or bleach are not mixed with other chemicals.
    • The risk of insecticides is understood. They are only bought for immediate need and excess is stored or disposed of properly.
    • Hazardous Items, cleaners and chemicals are kept out of reach of children and confused or impaired adults.
    • Household trash is disposed of in a covered waste receptacle outside the home.


      • Medications are never taken that are prescribed to someone else.
      • All your medications (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, herbals) are written down and the list shown to your doctor or pharmacist to keep from combing drugs inappropriately. If there are any changes, they are added to your list immediately.
      • You know the name of each of your medicines, why you are taking it, how to take it, what foods to avoid or other things to avoid while taking it and its potential side effects.
      • Medication allergies and any medication side effects are reported to your healthcare provider.
      • Medications are taken exactly as instructed. If the medication looks different than you expected, ask your health care provider or pharmacist about it.
      • Alcohol is NOT used when you are taking medicine.
      • Medicines are not stopped or changed without your doctor’s approval, even if you are feeling better.
      • A chart or container system (egg carton or med-planner) is used to help you remember what kind, how much, and when to take medicine.
      • Your medicine is taken with a light on so you can read the label.
      • Medicine labels (including warnings) are read carefully and medicines are kept in their original containers.
      • Medications are stored safely in a cool/dry place according to instructions on the label of the medication.
      • If you miss a dose, you do not double the next dose later.
      • Old medications are disposed of safely by flushing them down the toilet or disposed of as directed.
      • Medicines are kept away from children and confused adults.


    • Manufacturer’s instructions for specialized medical equipment are kept with or near the equipment.
    • Routine and preventative maintenance is performed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
    • Phone numbers are available in the home to obtain service in case of equipment problems or equipment failure.
    • Backup equipment is available if indicated.
    • Manufacturer’s instructions are followed for providing a proper environment for specialized medical equipment.
    • Adequate electrical power is provided for medical equipment such as ventilators, oxygen, concentrators and other equipment.
    • Equipment batteries are checked regularly by a qualified service person.
    • Bed side rails are properly installed and used only when necessary. Do not use bed rails as a substitute for a physical protect restraint.
    • Mattress must fit the bed. Excess space between the mattress and bed side rails could cause the patient to become trapped.
    • Protective barriers are used with bed site rails to reduce gaps in which the patient could be accidentally trapped.
    • All oxygen equipment is kept away from open flames.
    • There is no smoking around oxygen.
    • If you have electrically powered equipment such as oxygen or ventilator, you are registered with your local utility company.


    • All family members and caregivers are familiar with emergency 911 procedures.
    • Fire department is notified if a disabled person is in the home.
    • There is no smoking in bed or when oxygen equipment is being used.
    • The heating system is checked and cleaned regularly by someone qualified to do maintenance. Space heaters, if used, are maintained and used according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
    • There are exits from all areas of the house. You know your fire escape routes and have two planned exits. If your exit is through the ground floor window, it opens easily.
    • The garage is adequately ventilated.
    • If you live in an apartment building, you know the exit stairs location.
    • Hallways are kept clean.
    • Elevators are not used in a fire emergency.
    • A fire drill/safety plan is prepared.
    • An escape route is practiced from each room in your home.
    • The fire department number is always posted for easy viewing at all times.
    • Fire extinguishers are checked frequently for stability.
    • Smoke detectors are in place in hallways and near sleeping areas.
    • Smoke alarm batteries are checked and installed when you change your clocks for daylight savings time in the spring and fall.
    • If your fire escape is cut off, remain calm, close the door and seal cracks to hold back smoke. Signal for help at the window.
    • A bed bound patient can be evacuated to a safe area by placing him/her on a sturdy blanket and pulling/dragging the patient out of the home.
    • Remember, life safety is first, but if the fire is contained and small, you may be able to use your fire extinguisher until the fire department arrives.POWER OUTAGEIn case of a power outage, if you require assistance and our agency phone lines are down, do the following:
    • If you are in a crisis of have an emergency situation, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
    • If it is not an emergency, call your closest relative or neighbor.
    • Our agency will get in touch with you as soon as possible.FLOODFloods are the most common and widespread of all natural hazards. Some floods can develop over a period of days, but flash floods can result in raging waters in just a few minutes. Be aware of flood hazards, especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam.Assemble a disaster supplies kit. Include a battery-operated radio, flashlights and extra batteries, first aid supplies, sleeping supplies and clothing. Keep a stock of food and extra drinking water.

      If locate authorities issue a flood watch, prepare to evacuate:

    • Secure your home. Move essential items to the upper floors of your house.
    • If instructed, turn off utilities at the main switches or valves. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
    • Fill the bathtub with water in case water becomes contaminated or services are cut off. Clean the bathtub first.
    • Six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you must walk in a flooded area, do not walk through moving water.
    • Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.


Tornados are nature’s most violent storms. When a tornado has been sighted, go to your shelter immediately. Stay away from windows, doors and outside walls.

In a house or small building: Go to the basement or storm cellar. If there is no basement, go to an interior room on the lower level (closets, interior hallways). Get under a sturdy table, hold on and protect your head. Stay there until the danger has passed.

If the patient is bed-bound, move the patient’s bed as far away from windows as possible. Cover the patient with heavy blankets or pillows being sure to protect the head and face. Then go to a safe area.

In a school, nursing home, hospital, factory or shopping center: Go to the predesignated shelter areas. Interior hallways on the lowest floor are usually safest. Stay away from windows and open spaces.

In a high-rise building: Go to a small interior room or hallway on the lowest floor possible

In a vehicle, trailer or mobile home: Get out immediately and so to a more substantial structure.

If there is no shelter nearby: Lie flat in the nearest ditch, ravine of culvert with your hands shielding your head. In a car, get out and take sheler in a nearby building. Do not attempt to out-drive a tornado. They are erratic and move swiftly.


Inside a home, avoid bathtubs, water faucets and sinks because metal piped can conduct electricity. Stay away from windows. Avoid using the telephone, except for emergencies. If outside do not stand underneath a natural lightning rod such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area. Get away from anything etal, including tractors, farm equipment, bicycles, etc.


Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region. Even areas which normally experience mild winters can be hit with a major snow storm or extreme cold. The results can range from isolation due to blocked roads and downed power lines to the havoc of cars and trucks sliding on icy highways.

Gather emergency supplies:

    • A battery powered radio
    • Food that does not require cooking and a manual can opener.
    • Your medications.
    • Extra Blankets.
    • Extra water in clean soda bottles or mild containers.
    • Rock salt to melt ice on walkways and sand to improve traction.
    • Flashlights, battery-powered lamps and extra batteries. Candles are a fire hazard. Make sure you have enough heating fuel regular fuel sources may be cut off.

Dress for the season:

  • Wear several layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
  • Mittens are warmer than gloves.
  • Wear a hat. Most body heat is lost though the top of the head.


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