SAFETY FOR THE ELDERLY
NORMAL, AL---Jan 16--Each
year many older Americans are injured in and around their homes.
More than 600,000 people over age 65 were treated in one year at
hospital emergency rooms for injuries associated with products they
live and use every day.
The U.S. Consumer
Product Safety Commission (CPSC) believes that many of these
injuries result from hazards that are easy to overlook, but also
easy to fix. By spotting these hazards and taking some simple steps
to correct them, many injuries might be prevented.
Extension System Resource Management Specialist Dr. Bernice B.
Wilson offers the following checklist to help spot possible safety
problems present in your home.
In all areas of your
home, check electrical and telephone cords, rugs, runners and mats,
telephone areas, smoke detectors, electrical outlets and switches,
light bulbs, space heaters, woodburning stoves and your emergency
Arrange furniture so
outlets are available for lamps and appliances without the use of
extension cords. Furniture resting on cords can damage them,
creating fire and shock hazards. Electric cords, that run under
carpeting may cause a fire. Replace damaged or frayed cords.
If an extension cord is
needed, use one having a sufficient amp or wattage rating.
Overloaded extension cords may cause fires.
Remove rugs and runners
that tend to slide. Apply double-faced adhesive carpet tape or
rubber matting to the backs of rugs and runners. Periodically check
rugs and runners to see if slip-resistant backing or carpet tape
In case of emergency,
telephone numbers for the police, fire department and local poison
control center, along with a neighbor's number, should be available
by the telephone. Have at least one telephone located where it would
be accessible in the event of an accident.
Make sure smoke
detectors are working properly. At least one smoke detector should
be placed on every floor of your home. Check and replace batteries
and bulbs according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Check outlets and
switches for heat. Unusually warm or hot outlets or switches may
indicate that an unsafe wiring condition exists. Unplug cords from
outlets and do not use the switches. Have an electrician check the
wiring as soon as possible.
Check light bulbs. A
bulb of too high wattage or the wrong type may lead to fire through
overheating. Ceiling fixtures, recessed lights and hooded lamps will
trap heat. Replace with a correct type bulb and wattage.
Have an emergency exit
plan and an alternate exit plan in case of fire. Once a fire starts,
it spreads rapidly. Since you may not have much time to get out and
there may be a lot of confusion, it's important everyone knows what
to do. Practice the plan from time to time to make sure everyone is
capable of quick and safe escape.
Don't wear clothing with
long, loose sleeves while you are cooking. CPSC estimates 70 percent
of all people who die from clothing fires are over 65 years of age.
Long sleeves are more likely to catch fire than are short sleeves.
Long sleeves also are more apt to catch on pot handles, overturning
pots and pans and causing scalds.
Place or store
noncooking equipment such as potholders, dish towels or plastic
utensils away from range. If necessary, shorten or remove curtains
that could brush against heat sources.
appliance cords away from sink areas and hot surfaces.
If you use a step stool,
make sure it is sturdy. If you don't have one, consider buying one
with a handrail that you can hold onto while standing on the top
In the bathroom, check
bathtub and shower areas, water temperature, rugs and mats,
lighting, small electrical appliances and medication storage areas.
Wet, soapy tile or porcelain surfaces are especially slippery and
may contribute to falls. Apply textured strips or use nonskid mats
on the floors of tubs and showers and on the bathroom floor.
If you use grab bars,
check for strength and stability, and repair if necessary. Always
check water temperature by hand before entering a bath or shower.
Make sure all
medications are stored in the containers they came in and are
clearly marked. Medications that are not clearly and accurately
labeled can be easily mixed up. Taking the wrong medicine or dosage
can be dangerous. Dispose of outdated medicines properly.
SOURCE: Dr. Bernice B.
Wilson, Resource Management Specialist, Alabama Cooperative
Extension System, (256)858-4969