Important Safety Tips for Seniors Living Alone

Important Safety Tips for Seniors Living Alone
Written by Alyssia Walmsley

Many senior citizens are choosing to live alone and care for themselves as they grow in age. Most seniors are quite capable of taking care of themselves; however, it is important that they follow these simple safety tips for their home. Also, if you know a senior that is currently living alone, it may be a good idea to do a quick safety check of their home the next time that you visit.

Lets Start with the Basics

One mistake that seniors make concerning home safety is putting off fixing a hazard. It is important that if you spot something on the floor or an appliance that needs to be repaired, you take care of the problem right away. If you put off fixing the problem, you or someone else visiting your home may be injured.

Many homeowners have rugs in their homes or runners to cover up floors. It is important that you make sure these runners are always in the proper position. If a runner or floor rug gets moved or has a corner folded up, it becomes a possible tripping hazard.

Electrical cords can pose a threat to injury or even property damage due to a fire. It is important that you never use a damaged extension cord. If you have an extension cord that becomes damaged, do not try to repair it yourself. Using a self-repaired extension cord is extremely dangerous. Most department stores carry extension cords for around $5; therefore, it is a wise investment. Extension cords also can still conduct electricity even if the appliance is turned off, you should always unplug the cord when it is not being used.

It is extremely important that seniors remember to keep all cords and appliances away from water. If by some chance, you have a kitchen or bathroom appliance that does fall into the water do not retrieve it, especially if it is still plugged in. When in doubt, you can call your local fire department for advice or assistance. If your appliance is damaged from the water, do not use it again. You can have it professional repaired or even purchase a brand new item.

Slippery floors and Fire Hazards

Smoke alarms are one of the most important safety tips that seniors need to remember and be aware of. Most home already have smoke detectors installed; however, the problem is often making sure that they are in working order. Smoke alarms should be installed in the kitchen, bedrooms, stairways, or any long hallways.

If you have a larger home, we advise that you scatter smoke alarms throughout the house, to ensure that you will be notified if a fire breaks out. You should regularly check your smoke alarms to make sure that they still work. Many seniors may be unable to climb to the alarm; however, most alarms can be tested by using a broom handle to press the test button. If you are unable to reach the alarm or do not feel safe by using another object to reach up, ask a friend or relative to check the alarm for you.

All stairways should be kept clear and clean. It really does not matter if a stairway is in or outside of your home, each should be well lit and free of clutter. During the wintertime, all stairs located outside should be properly cared for. If you are unable to spread ice melt or shovel the snow, you may wish to ask if there are any neighborhood children interested in doing this for you.

When you are cooking in the kitchen, it is important that you never leave your food unattended. Although it may seem like a quick minute, that can allow for food to boil over or for grease to cause a fire. It is important that seniors do not start cooking when they are tired. If you do cook, it is a good idea to set a kitchen timer to remind you to shut off the oven.

 The Little Things

Leaving your items in the oven can cause a potential fire or smoke damage to your home. When you take your meals out of the oven or remove pans from the stove, it is important that you wear oven mitts, this will most likely prevent you from being burned.

Many individuals think that using an electric space heater or oven to heat their home will help them save money. If you are senior who is doing this, or you know someone who does, it is important that you help them understand this is a serious risk. There are times when a space heater may need to be used; however, you should use it with caution.

For example, last year my grandmother’s water pipes froze in her home. To unfreeze the pipes, they had to set up various space heaters where they thought the froze occurred. If you are using a heater, it is important that all clothing, bedding, rugs, and furniture are kept away from the heater.

A bathroom is a common place where many senior citizens become injured. It is important that you make sure your bathroom is properly set up. If you are unable to safeguard your bathroom with repairs, you need to ask a family member to do it for you.

Stay Safe and be Watchful!

Garb bars are bars that are installed into the wall or other fixtures to help an elderly or disabled individual to use the facilities. Many grab bars are located in the shower or around the toilet. There are many nonskid bathroom mats that could be placed on the bathtub or shower floor, to help prevent falls.

This list is important for all seniors living alone in a home or apartment complex. Even if you or your relative is living in a home for senior citizens. It is still important that you check their residence for safety concerns. At many apartment complexes for seniors, the facility will perform inspections; however, it is not always guaranteed that all safety concerns will be addressed.

Being in your “golden years” and still be able to care for yourself is a huge accomplishment. You and your family should be proud. You have taken good care of yourself up till now. It is important your home is safe to keep you living healthy.

About the author

Alyssia Walmsley

Alyssia is a Cornell University graduate of 2003 and a former lead technology development manager for Microsoft and Cisco Networking Systems. Between writing on her blog, Blubbr, she likes adventures and chocolate sprinkles.

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