Explore a comprehensive guide on injury-proofing your home, filled with expert tips and strategies to prevent accidents and minimize pain. Prioritize safety and well-being for you and your family, ensuring a secure and comfortable living environment. Whether you have a baby on the way, need to take precautions due to a recent injury, or want to ensure that your house is aging-ready if you intend to stay in your home for as long as possible, proper injury prevention is important. The truth is that many homes can be quite dangerous. Home accidents are a leading cause of injury and death among children and young adults, and they can still be a serious problem for older adults.
We want to feel safe within our own walls – but sometimes, the bigger threats are indoors rather than outside. Taking measures to improve safety and accessibility can minimize the risk of falls, trips, and other accidents, as well as reduce pain exacerbated by a lack of ergonomic design.
It’s a step many people are hesitant to take. Some people are worried that injury-proofing a home might not mesh well with its interior design and aesthetic. Others don’t want to feel like they’re in an assisted living facility. However, modern injury-proofing solutions integrate nicely with any home décor, and many interior designers specialize in accommodating their clients’ respective needs and requirements, especially in cases of mobility and chronic pain.
Assessing Your Home
A home is divided into different rooms and areas, each with their own injury and fall prevention considerations. Identifying potential hazards in each room and tackling your rooms one-by-one is key to turning a massive undertaking into a manageable to-do list.
Injury proofing your home starts with a proper assessment of the most pressing hazards. Potential hazards in any modern home will include:
- Loose rugs, cluttered walkways, and cables across hallways.
- Poorly maintained or steep stairs can lead to falls, particularly for young children and the elderly.
- Low windows or windows without proper safety measures can pose a risk of falls.
- Knives, scissors, and other sharp tools.
- Exposed wires, overloaded outlets, and malfunctioning electrical appliances.
- Improperly stored household chemicals, cleaning agents, or medications.
- Unstable or poorly anchored furniture, such as bookshelves or dressers.
- Faulty wiring, unattended candles, or flammable materials near heat sources.
- Malfunctioning heating systems or gas appliances can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Unattended bathtubs, swimming pools, or open toilet lids can be dangerous, especially for young children.
- The absence of smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, or first aid kits.
- Tools and equipment left accessible in the garage or yard.
Go through your home and make a list of the first hazards that come to mind in each room.
Falls are some of the most common injuries among older adults, so focus on hazards that could cause or exacerbate a fall or loss of balance. Bathrooms are a particular hotspot due to tile floors, showers, and water.
Injury-proofing a home against falls generally revolves around two elements: eliminating tripping hazards and installing assistive devices.
Tripping hazards are a problem at any age – but as we get older, the use of assistive devices to help prevent injuries becomes more important, especially along stairs and patios, near steps, as well as in bathrooms.
If necessary, consider working with an occupational therapist to better identify hazards in your home that are most likely to lead to an injury, especially if you’re recovering from a work-related accident or are at risk of specific injuries.
The bathroom is one of the two most likely rooms in your home to lead to an injury. Bathroom hazards include sharp objects, slips and falls, medication errors or unauthorized use of medication (especially among children), inappropriate or dangerous use of cleaning supplies, electrocution, as well as burns caused by hot water.
Keeping your cleaning supplies and medication safe from children, having a pair of reading glasses nearby to help you keep your medication apart, taking note of a doctor’s instructions, and relying on tall cabinets or child-proof locks are a few ways you can avoid ingestion-related injuries in the bathroom. Slip-resistant flooring in and outside of the shower and bathtub can help reduce slips and falls, and better temperature control for water can help avoid burning. A shower stool and grab bars along the shower wall can also be a life saver.
The kitchen is the next hotspot for home accidents and injuries. In addition to sharp objects, kitchens have their fair share of other hazards mainly concentrated around the stove. Cooking can be incredibly dangerous, and there isn’t much you can do to completely eliminate the risk of making a mistake while handling hot food or an active burner.
However, you can reduce the risk of injury with well-maintained kitchen equipment and modern appliances.
For example, keep your knives sharp! A dull knife is often more dangerous than a sharp knife because dull knives are more likely to slip off the ingredient you intend to cut, causing an injury to your fingers instead. Learning to cut safely – using your knuckles and the flat of a large knife to avoid the risk of an amputated digit – can also help make cooking a lot less risky.
A smoke alarm and a fire extinguisher are also important additions to any kitchen. Grease fires are impossible to put out with water because oil and fat burn at a much higher temperature than something like a stool or a couch.
A liter of water poured into a grease fire immediately combusts into over a thousand liters of boiling water vapor; the resulting explosion propels the burning grease onto the kitchen walls and cabinets, turning a stove fire into a house fire.
Fire extinguishers rob grease fires of oxygen, causing the chemical reaction of the fire to die down.
When accidents do happen, being ready is crucial. Emergency preparedness includes having at least one complete first-aid kit around the house, as well as an emergency kit for a trip to the hospital. If you live alone, or are frequently alone, setting up an automated medical alert system to call for help if you fail to respond can mean the difference between life and death.
It’s encouraged to brush up on your first aid skills, even if you aren’t planning on renewing your driver’s license or otherwise using the certification and keep an evacuation plan of the building at hand if you’re living in an apartment complex.
The peace of mind that comes with a safe home is priceless. But even when we do our best to minimize injury, accidents happen. If you’re dealing with long-term pain due to a former injury or condition, finding ways to reduce the risk of a recurrence is well worth it. So is better pain management.
We at PMIR specialize in helping people formulate pain management plans that work best for them. We believe in an individualized approach and offer a variety of holistic treatment options for our clients. Give us a call today via (877) 724-6349 to learn more about our pain management plans.
Take the First Step Towards Pain-Free Living Today