Stairway issues contribute to many accidents each year. The most common ones are:
- defective stairways
- damaged stair rises
- faulty steps
- handrail/rail issues
If you have stairs in your home, use a tape measure to check some of these areas. First, measure the height of each step (riser) and the width of each step (tread). Are there some steps that are higher or wider than others? This can be the cause of a possible trip hazard, especially for older adults. Next, measure the distance between the rods or boards that hold up the stair rails. If they are wider than 4 1/2 inches, this could be a safety issue for young children. Finally, check to make sure your handrails are secure, and re-secure them if necessary. Go outside and check the same areas with your front porch and deck steps.
Next, let’s take a look at your bathrooms. Half of the home injuries that occur each year are caused by bathtub falls. Make sure that you have some type of a non-slip surface in each bathtub/shower. Another safety feature that you should consider is a handhold that you can grab onto if you should start to slip and fall. This would be particularly important for older adults.
You should make sure that your home is equipped with both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on each level. Check them on a regular basis to make sure they are functioning properly. There are approximately 430 deaths and thousands of visits to the hospital that occur each year due to carbon monoxide poisoning. It is now a law that your home be equipped with detectors. If you don’t have one, get one today. It could save a life.
Another item I would like you to be aware of is the wiring in your home. Due to cost issues, most homes are now wired with aluminum wiring rather than copper. This meets the building codes; however, there are safety procedures that need to be followed when working with aluminum wiring. Statistically, there is a 50 times greater fire risk with the use of single strand aluminum wiring versus copper wiring, if these procedures are not followed. The Consumer Products Safety Commission has published a pamphlet outlining federal safety regulations and how to properly handle the issue of aluminum wiring. Most electricians carry anti-oxidant grease which, if properly applied around the connections, can prevent some issues such as sparking in the wires.
There are other safety issues around your home that you can look for, but these are just a few that I thought were important, and that you can easily correct if you need to.