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Home Safety Checklists

A little planning and these tips can lessen or eliminate common household hazards

Every year in the United States nearly one-third of people age 65 and older experience a fall. Among these adults, falls are the leading cause of injury deaths and the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma.

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More than half of all fall injuries among older people occur inside the home, and an additional one out of four happen outside near the home.

Getting Started

Many home updates that greatly increase home comfort and safety can be made at little to no cost. Some of our favorites are included here and most of the products can be purchased at your local hardware or home improvement store.

  • Set the hot water heater to 120° to prevent scalding and reduce energy costs

  • Remove clutter from stairways and passageways; place exposed electrical cords along a wall where they can’t be tripped over; and always remove all cords from underneath furniture or carpeting

  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on all levels of the house, especially outside bedrooms

  • Replace traditional toggle light switches with easy-to-use rocker panel switches. Consider illuminated switches in bathrooms

  • Install lever handles on all doors and faucets

  • Install a hand-held, adjustable height showerhead for easier bathing

  • Replace knobs on cabinets and drawers with easy-to-grip D-shaped handles

Conducting a complete home safety check can go a long way in helping prevent problems that could lead to a fall, other injury or loss of independence. Review the questions and recommendations in each checklist.

1. Entrances & Exits

Are exterior pathways, porches and doorways well lit and is the house number clearly visible on the house or mailbox?

  • Increase lighting along pathways and entryway

  • Install floodlights with motion sensors

  • Install photoelectric “eyes” in light fixtures so lighting will turn on automatically at dusk

  • Install easy-to-see, reflective house numbers that can be seen from the street

Are the walkways in good condition?

  • Repair any holes, loose bricks, or uneven pavement

  • Make sure the pavement is free of moss or mold, which could make it slippery

Are there handrails on both sides of the steps?

  • Install handrails on both sides of all steps

Is the door easy to open and do all exterior doors have deadbolts?

  • Install lever door handles, which are easier to use than knobs on all doors; and deadbolts on exterior doors

  • For added convenience, place a bench near the exterior door you use most often to hold packages while you are opening the door

Does the main entrance door have a security peephole or view panel?

  • Install security peepholes at a height right for you on exterior doors

  • Consider exploring electronic options for seeing who is at the door

Is the door threshold visible or could it contribute to trips or falls?

  • Install a beveled, no-step, no-trip threshold. Consider a contrasting color so it will be easily visible

  • Are scatter or throw rugs or mats that could cause tripping or slipping near doorways?

  • Remove all scatter or throw rugs

Next page: Steps, stairways and the bathroom. »


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