By Deborah Tillman, MSN, ARNP, A-GNP-C
Most of us have been spending the majority of our time at home these days along with the whole family. Now might be a great time to create or update your home’s safety plan. If you don’t already have such a plan, putting one together and adding needed safety features may be welcome activities, especially if you’ve run out of fresh ideas after watching Frozen 2 for the tenth time.
Falls. Trips and falls can happen to anyone of any age around the home. Risk of these can be substantially reduced with a few simple activities and additions to the home:
- Clear your floors of small and loose items such as pet bowls, toys, electrical cords, throw rugs; anything that might slip away when stepped on or someone could catch with their foot and lose balance.
- Arrange or remove furniture so there’s a wide walking path in all rooms, especially those leading towards exits to the outside.
- Essential items should be placed where they can be easily reached by family members that may need them.
- Add grab bars inside and outside of your bathtub or shower, and next to the toilet.
- Add railings on both sides of stairs, and make sure stairs, hallways and any transitions in floor height have good lighting.
- Outdoors areas should be well lit, with walkways smooth and free of puddles so mud and ice can not form.
Fire. Nine in 10 structure fires occur in the home and more than 8 in 10 fire-related deaths resulting from home fires. Only 1 in 5 parents regularly practice fire escape plans at home, and only half of parents report their children know what to do in the event of a fire. When a fire does happen at home, children can become frightened and hide. By educating and practicing with our children for these types of emergencies, we can save lives and even have a little fun while doing it. Kids of all ages may find this a fun diversion and it can be as simple or as elaborate as you wish:
- Have family members draw out on a sheet of paper your house with outside exits anyone can use clearly marked.
- Pick a family safety spot that’s near your home, yet a safe distance away, for everyone to meet up in the event of an emergency.
- Press the smoke alarm test button with all family members present so they know what the beep sounds like.
- Then press the smoke alarm test button again, this time everyone walks to the safety spot in two minutes or less (use a timer). Two minutes is how much time a family has to safely exit the house in the event of a fire.
- For children under six, assign an adult to help them during the beeping sound and reaching the family safety spot activities.
- Consider posting your house plan (with exits and family safety spot clearly marked) for everyone to see, like any good work of art.
(Sources: National Safety Council, 2020; IAFF, 2018)