Last night before I went to bed I left some newspapers on the floor near the bathroom door. I had intended to put them in the recycling and forgot them. Naturally, during the night when I made my way to the bathroom in the dark I slipped and fell into the bathroom. Fortunately I wasn’t hurt other than feeling foolish but this morning that lesson gave me a great idea for a topic on my insurance blog. Falls are the most common cause of accidents in the home, a substantial proportion of them serious or even fatal. You can cut the risk of these and maybe save a life by:
Ensuring carpets are properly fixed to the floor (use floor-gripper tape for loose rugs on slippery surfaces, and ensure fitted carpets are fastened down). I have several of these and they are always sliding around.
Removing clutter, especially in busy "traffic" areas for instance, my newspapers!
Marking temporary hazards – like a ladder that people don't expect to encounter – with a piece of brightly colored cloth and removing it as soon as you're done.
Keeping floors dry or out of bounds when wet. You can buy specialty absorbent rugs for particularly dangerous areas like the kitchen, laundry and bathroom.
Installing handrails in bathrooms or wherever there are steps (including the yard) – especially important if you have older folk living with or visiting you. These are in the bathroom where I am staying and while I am perfectly able, I use them frequently.
Repairing and leveling walkways in the yard. I have one of these where I am staying now and I trip over it frequently in the dark even though I know its there!
Installing low-wattage lighting along driveways and paths that are used at night. Or, use a motion sensor light that turns the light on for you when you approach.
Fires and fumes, which I talked in an earlier blog, are another key area of home safety. In addition to the measures I recommended then, it's also important to make sure all rooms are properly ventilated, heating appliances are also inspected and serviced annually, air ducts and filters are regularly cleaned, and lint filters on clothes dryers are cleared out after each usage. Blocked lint filters and dryer vents are a major cause of fumes and fires.
Finally, I want to warn about keeping dangerous stuff out of reach. I'm talking here not only about your medications – prescription and over-the-counter stuff – and weapons that I talked about before. There are also other dangers you may not immediately recognize, like poisonous house plants, cleaning products and cosmetics and heavy or fragile objects that could cause mayhem if they fall or are broken.
This is especially important if you have young people or pets around your home. You can get a list of poisons from both the American Association of Poison Control Centers and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.