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Warning: Your Home Can Be Your Place of Doom
When you think of home, what comes to mind is a place of rest, comfort, peace, serenity and joy.
Is it? 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 unfortunate victims due to failing eyesight, poor balance and diminished cognitive function.
To prove the point, here are some startling numbers that may make you give your home a second look:
o In 2009, in England and Wales alone, 7,475 people aged 65 and over died from home accidents, 49% of which were due to falls. – rospa.com;
o According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), millions of people aged 65 and over, or one in three seniors, suffer from falls. – cdc.gov.
Home accidents involving the elderly have become a big concern for government institutions and regulators because some of them are preventable. But through complacency, neglect or ignorance, they end up in emergency rooms or meet an untimely death.
To avoid becoming a number in the home accident statistics, these tips are very useful for you or your loved ones.
1. List all emergency numbers:
Have all the phone numbers for your children, loved ones, 911, poison control center, fire department, personal physician or suicide center.
Put the list in your wallet or somewhere safe and easily accessible, or in your phone’s contact list.
If you’re tech-savvy, load apps onto your phone so you can contact them quickly and easily.
2. Check for possible sources of falls:
Check for frayed floor mats, power cords, lamp bases, wobbly dining table chairs, step stools, porch welcome mats, tall cabinets or closets, living room extenders, rests -feet, etc.
Don’t take them lightly. Even though you can move around your house with your eyes
nearby, these can easily cause you to trip and fall.
In addition to the above, add these to your precautionary list:
o Sleep on the ground floor, if possible;
o Have handles along the walls of your home – from the living room, from the kitchen to your bedroom;
o Attach the edges of the mat to the floor or remove it;
o Put shoes and books where they belong;
o Keep food on kitchen counters so you don’t have to lift it when you need it.
3. Identify possible fire sources:
In 2010, 143 people died in the UK due to fire-related accidents.
Home fires are normally caused by faulty electrical wiring, overloaded electrical outlets, use of substandard plugs and outlets, unplugged electrical appliances, smoldering cigarette butts, oily carpets thrown near a hot spring, inability to turn off the gas, etc.
To remove these potential hazards:
o Use certified wires, sockets, plugs and sockets;
o Turn off appliances before going out or going to bed; properly store flammable objects, do not overload sockets;
o Install smoke alarms in your home and make sure they are functional;
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 attempt 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 you go to bed at night.
Don’t take this lightly. Contact burns in people over 65 can be fatal if infected.
To avoid this risk,
o Do not take more hot drinks than necessary;
o Arrange your tea or coffee utensils as close together as possible.
o Handle your cooking utensils with extreme care;
o Use gloves at all times when working around hot items in the kitchen;
o When taking a shower, always turn on the cold water first, before turning on the hot water knob slowly to avoid scalding.
5. Is your bathroom safe?
Bathrooms, as small as they are, are big when it comes to household accidents.
Accidents happen around toilets, shower stalls and bathtubs.
To avoid these risks, be sure to:
o Use non-slip mats;
o Have grab bars installed;
o Set the thermostat to a maximum of 1200 F to minimize the risk of burns;
o Use special chairs if you have difficulty getting in and out of toilets and bathtubs;
o Have your cell phone nearby to dial an emergency number if needed.
6. Get rid of toxic substances:
Older people are particularly prone to poisonings due to a weaker immune system and lower metabolism.
Accidental poisoning or drug overdose happens if you don’t know enough about your prescription medications or if you take medications that aren’t meant for you.
Storing partially opened canned food in the refrigerator for too long can also cause food poisoning.
Don’t stretch your food budget too much to eat stale or moldy foods. It can also give you food poisoning.
To help avoid this household hazard:
o Always wash your hands before working near food;
o Avoid recycling food that has been in storage for more than two days;
o When buying canned goods, always check their expiry dates;
o Do not store canned food in partially opened cans;
o Discard moldy fruit and other foods;
Regarding your medications:
o Always buy from credible and reputable pharmacies;
o When asking for prescriptions, ask your doctor about possible side effects with other medications you are talking about;
o Never experiment with drugs. Be sure to take what is prescribed by a doctor and not suggested by a friend.
o Don’t take other people’s medicines just because you have the same disease. Different people react differently to medications.
Last year I ate something for dinner that gave me a severe case of food poisoning. I had diarrhea from 5am until late afternoon. Every hour on the hour I had to rush to the toilet to unload.
It subsided when my daughter and son-in-law, both doctors, fed me intravenously with saline solution.
Last night, while attending the wake of an aunt who died four days ago from a bad fall, I met a young girl who was also attending a neighbor’s wake.
She was already in her 60s, alone at home, and died of a fall while going to the bathroom.
When relatives found her, she was already bluish, with a large gash on her head.
No matter how safe you feel at home, accidents can happen at the most unexpected times and under the most unexpected circumstances.
Home security can easily turn into a disaster; your retirement days can easily be cut short by a sudden fall, stale food, or a smoking cigarette butt on your mattress as you slowly drift off to sleep.
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