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How To Protect Yourself At Home

Home Safety (2)
By: Linda Burhans
When most people think about protecting themselves at home they automatically focus on security and protection from burglaries and other common crimes.  This type of protection is of course important for seniors, but just as important is protecting yourself from injury and other safety hazards.
Security and physical protection
It’s hard to think about the possibility of falling victim to a home break in or burglary, but unfortunately this is an all too common issue for seniors.  Criminals tend to target the homes of seniors because they view those seniors as weaker, less likely to resist, and more likely to leave valuable items unlocked or unsecured.
There are a number of things you can do to improve the security of your home and protect yourself from break ins.  These include:
• All exterior doors should have reinforced frames, deadbolt locks, and high quality cylinder locks
• Choose solid wood, solid metal, or solid fiberglass for exterior doors
• Always lock up your storage shed, garage, and tools
• Keep your exterior landscaping neatly trimmed to avoid creating potential hiding spots for burglars
• Use shrubs and bushes with thorns or other sharp protrusions to discourage potential burglars from getting close to your home
• Use plenty of exterior lighting, especially using motion sensors, automatic timers, and other accessories to ensure lights are on when needed
• Always keep windows and doors locked, even when you’re inside
• Never let a stranger in your home
• Never hide a key outside your home
• Vary your routine so potential burglars have a hard time predicting when and where you’ll be
• Don’t leave boxes for expensive items, such as TVs, stereos, and the like, outside where thieves can see them and be tempted to break in to steal those items
• Consider installing a security alarm system; if you do, be sure to always engage the system when you leave the home
Most of what you do to maintain the security and physical protection of your home is really based on nothing more than common sense.  When you don’t tempt thieves by allowing them to see your valuable, when you keep doors and windows locked, when you make it hard to hide near your house, and when you practice basic safety precautions you are much more likely to avoid becoming the victim of a burglar or thief.
Injury prevention and safety hazards
Injury prevention and identifying safety hazards are critical to helping seniors maintain their independence and quality of life.  All it takes is one injury, such as a broken arm, broken hip, or the like, and you can experience dramatic and permanent changes to your lifestyle.  It makes sense, then, to be proactive about identifying and correcting safety hazards and preventing common injuries.
By far the most common cause of injury for senior is falling.  As the body ages bones become more brittle, so that even a minor fall can cause a major break and lead to long term complications.  Here are some easy ways to spot safety hazards in your home and reduce the chances of being injured:
• Make sure all electrical cords, telephone cords, extension cords, and the like are away from areas where you walk
• Secure any area rugs, runners, or other small rugs with non-slip backing or double sided adhesive
• Only use a ladder or step stool if absolutely necessary; if possible, get help with tasks that require use of these items
• Keep slip resistant rugs on the kitchen floor to avoid slippery conditions when liquids are spilled
• Be sure there is adequate lighting in all areas of the home to ensure good visibility both day and night
• Use non-skid mats or textured strips in the bathtub and shower
• Install heavy duty grab bars in the bathtub, shower, and near the toilet
• Use a plastic shower seat if you need extra stability in the shower
• Keep clutter to a minimum, allowing for easy access to all areas of the house
• Install double hand rails on stairways and any steps off of porches or decks
• Never leave anything (boxes, laundry baskets, etc.) on the stairs
These may seem like simple and obvious things, but for most people these are the kinds of things they just don’t think about.  It pays to look around your home and evaluate possible safety hazards from the perspective of the unique needs of yourself and your loved one.
Linda is an author, speaker, caregiver advocate and coach.  She can be reached at 727-365-8383 or

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