Warning: Your Home May Be Your Place of Doom
When you think of home, what comes to mind is a place of rest, comfort, peace, serenity and joy.
It is? But do you know that your home can have more than a dozen hidden dangers that can turn it into a place of doom in the blink of an eye?
And older people, especially those over 65, are more often unlucky victims due to impaired vision, poor balance, and decreased cognitive functions.
To prove the point, here are some starting figures that might make you take a second look at your home:
o In 2009, in England and Wales alone, 7,475 people over the age of 65 died from domestic accidents, of which 49% were due to falls. -rospa.com;
o According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), millions of people over the age of 65, or one in three seniors, fall. -cdc.gov.
Domestic accidents involving the elderly have become a major concern for government institutions and regulators because some of them are preventable. But due to complacency, carelessness, or ignorance, they end up in emergency rooms or meet an untimely death.
To avoid becoming a figure in the home accident statistics, these tips are very helpful for you or your loved ones.
1. List all emergency numbers:
Have all contact numbers for your children, close relatives, 911, poison control, the fire department, your personal doctor, or a suicide center.
Keep the list in your wallet or in a safe and easily accessible place, or in your phone’s contact list.
If you’re tech-savvy, load apps onto your phone so you can get in touch with them quickly and easily.
2. Look for possible sources of falls:
Check for frayed rugs, power cords, lamp stands, wobbly dining table chairs, stepladders, porch welcome mat, tall cabinets or cupboards, living room extension cords, stools, etc.
Don’t take them lightly. Even if you can move around your house with your eyes
nearby, they can easily cause you to trip and fall.
In addition to the above, add these to your watch list:
o Sleep on the ground floor, if possible;
o Have grab bars along the walls of your home, from the living room, kitchen to your bedroom;
o Secure the edges of the rug to the floor, or remove it;
o Put shoes and books where they should;
o Keep food on kitchen counters so you don’t have to reach for it when you need it.
3. Identify possible sources of fire:
In 2010, 143 people died in the UK due to fire-related accidents.
Home fires are typically caused by faulty electrical wiring, overloaded electrical outlets, use of inferior plugs and sockets, unplugged appliances, smoldering cigarette butts, oily rugs thrown near a hot source, not turning off the gas, etc.
To eliminate these potential hazards:
o Use certified cords, plugs, sockets and outlets;
o Turn off appliances before going out or going to bed; properly store flammable items, do not overload sockets;
o Install smoke detectors in your home and make sure they work;
o Have fire extinguishers in your bedroom, living room and dining room AND make sure you know how to use them or that they are always fully charged;
o Do not try to put out a fire if it has already started. Get out and call 911.
4. Burns and scalds:
Burns and scalds can come from radiators, stoves, kettles, hot baths, or even a cup of hot chocolate you drink before bed at night.
Don’t take this lightly. Contact burns between people over the age of 65 can be fatal if they become infected.
To avoid this risk,
o Do not drink hot drinks more than necessary;
o Place your tea or coffee utensils as close to each other as possible.
o Handle your kitchen utensils with the utmost care;
o Wear gloves at all times when working with hot items in the kitchen;
o When showering, always turn on the cold water first, before slowly turning on the hot water knob to avoid scalding.
5. Is your bathroom safe?
Bathrooms, small as they are, are big when it comes to household accidents.
Accidents happen around toilets, showers, and bathtubs.
To avoid these risks, be sure to:
o Use non-slip mats;
o Have grab bars installed;
o Set the thermostat no higher than 1200F to minimize the risk of burns;
o Use special chairs if you have difficulty getting in and out of bathrooms and bathtubs;
o Have your cell phone nearby to dial an emergency number in case you need it.
6. Get rid of toxic substances:
Older people are especially prone to poisoning due to a weaker immune system and lower metabolism.
Accidental poisoning or drug overdose occurs if you do not have adequate knowledge of your prescribed medications or if you take medications that are not for you.
Storing partially opened canned goods too long in the ref can also cause food poisoning.
Don’t stretch your food budget too far to eat stale or moldy foods. This can also give you food poisoning.
To help avoid this risk at home:
o Always wash your hands before working with food;
o Avoid recycling food that has been in the ref for more than two days;
o When buying canned goods, always check their expiration dates;
o Do not store canned goods in partially opened cans;
o Throw away moldy fruits and other foods;
Regarding your medications:
o Always shop at reputable and reliable pharmacies;
o When ordering prescriptions, ask your doctor about possible adverse reactions with other medications you are discussing;
o Never experiment with drugs. Be sure to take what is prescribed by a doctor, not suggested by a friend;
o Don’t take other people’s medicine just because you have the same illness. Different people react to medications differently.
Last year I ate something for dinner that gave me a severe case of food poisoning. I had diarrhea from 5 in the morning until well into the afternoon. Every hour on the hour, I had to run to the bathroom to unload.
It calmed down when my daughter and son-in-law, both doctors, fed me intravenously with saline.
Last night, while attending the wake of an aunt who died four days ago from a bad fall, I met a young woman who was also attending a neighbor’s wake.
She was already 60 years old, home alone, and died from a fall while using the bathroom.
When her relatives found her, she was already blue, with a large cut on her head.
No matter how safe you feel at home, accidents can happen at the most unexpected times and circumstances.
Home security can easily become a disaster; Your retirement days can easily be cut short by a sudden fall, a concession stand, or a smoldering cigarette butt on your mattress as you slowly drift off to sleep.