5 ways to make homes safer

The Prince George Citizen - The Citizen - Real Estate Weekly - - Real Estate Weekly -

In­juries that oc­cur around the home con­trib­ute to mil­lions of med­i­cal vis­its and tens of thou­sands of fa­tal­i­ties each year. Falls ac­count for the largest per­cent­age of home ac­ci­dents, with the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion re­port­ing that around 30,000 fall-re­lated fa­tal­i­ties oc­cur each year in the United States. Many home ac­ci­dents are en­tirely pre­ventable when proper cau­tion is ex­er­cised.

As home­own­ers pre­pare for home-im­prove­ment projects, im­prov­ing safety in­side and out­side the home should be a pri­or­ity.

1. Im­prove light­ing

One of the eas­i­est ways to re­duce the risk of falls is to im­prove light­ing around the home. The Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health state that ad­e­quate light­ing is im­por­tant at en­trances to the home, stair­ways, hall­ways, and other fre­quently tra­versed ar­eas. Make sure light­ing fix­tures are us­ing the high­est wattage light bulb al­lowed. Ar­ti­fi­cial light­ing sources be­come even more vi­tal in fall and au­tumn, when nat­u­ral light is less abun­dant in a home. In ad­di­tion, in­stall light­ing out­doors by the front door, over the garage and where garbage pails are stored to fa­cil­i­tate safe pas­sage.

2. Elim­i­nate slick sur­faces

Im­prov­ing trac­tion around the house also can min­i­mize falls. Throw rugs and run­ners can be made more se­cure with non­slip rub­ber back­ings. Bath rugs can re­duce slip­ping on wet sur­faces in the bath­room. Also, non­slip mats can be used in­side of show­ers and bath­tubs. Use shoe trays to re­duce pud­dling from melt­ing snow or rain runoff in en­try­ways. Mop up spills quickly, and con­sider the use of matte- or tex­tured-fin­ished floor­ing to im­prove sta­bil­ity un­der­foot. Promptly re­move snow and ice from drive­ways and walk­ways. For those who live in cold cli­mates, heated con­crete can help melt pre­cip­i­ta­tion be­fore it ac­cu­mu­lates.

3. Make needed re­pairs

Re­pair loose floor­boards and pull car­pet taut if it has started to stretch out. Ad­dress cracks out­doors and en­sure that pa­tio stones, bricks and pavers are se­cure and level to re­duce trip­ping haz­ards. Fix ar­eas of the land­scape where wa­ter may pool and freeze, cre­at­ing po­ten­tial haz­ards.

4. De­clut­ter all spa­ces

Re­move un­nec­es­sary items and fur­ni­ture from rooms to free up more space to get around. Be sure there are no ob­struc­tions in walk­ways, en­try­ways and near doors. Keep stair­cases clear at all times.

5. In­vest in as­sis­tive de­vices

Handrails, grab bars, non­slip stair treads, and many other de­vices can make homes safer for peo­ple of all ages and abil­i­ties. Out­fit cab­i­nets and clos­ets with or­ga­niz­ers that put fre­quently used items within easy reach. A sturdy step stool can re­duce the risk of in­jury while reach­ing for items stored on high shelves.

Tak­ing mea­sures to re­duce the risk of fall­ing around the home is a worth­while home im­prove­ment project.

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