Archive for the 'Home Safety' Category

May 09 2012

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“Aging in Place” and How to Do It in Your Home – The House Plan Shop

Walk in ShowerOne of today’s growing and popular living trends for seniors, retirees and baby boomers is aging in place or preparing to age in place. This senior living trend allows people to grow old in a comfortable and safe environment they are familiar with instead of moving in with family members or heading to a nursing home. There are many ways to assess your current living environment and prepare for a time when you might need a little assistance or services to allow you to live independently in your home. When assessing your current living environment, it is necessary to examine all the major areas of your home including bedrooms, bathrooms, entries and even the yard. It is also pertinent that you take a look at the surrounding community and see what facilities, services and thoughtful extras it may offer that will allow you to live on your own for as long as possible. Below are some tips from The House Plan Shop to help you create a plan for aging in place.

 

·         Install good lighting. Proper lighting is necessary in all living spaces and surrounding outdoor areas including bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, gathering spaces, kitchen, laundry room, hallways, stairways, porches, garage, sidewalks, and the driveway. Proper lighting is necessary if you wish to avoid accidents such as tripping and falling.

·         Consider adding a garage lift. A garage lift helps those who use wheelchairs gain access to the home from inside the garage where one or more steps are necessary to enter the home.

·         Assess porches. Make sure all porches (front, back and any side porches) have a safe, non-slippery surface. Add rails and/or ramps where necessary for easy and safe access. 

·         Inspect and upgrade your entry. The entry to your home is your doorway to the rest of the world. It should be convenient and safe to use no matter the time of day, what the weather may be, or what your physical ability or condition may be. A barrier-free entry makes it easy to gain access to the home whether walking through the door unassisted, using a wheelchair, crutches, or the like. No step entries have no steps from the driveway to the walkway to the front door, and they have very little slope, if any, easily accommodating someone using a wheelchair or who has trouble climbing steps. If your home has steps, consider replacing them with a ramp.

·         Check your thresholds. Remove thresholds from entries and rooms that are divided by a threshold to eliminate tripping hazards.

·         Modify your kitchen. Ensure there is ample space to maneuver. This may mean removing a few cabinets, a snack bar, or even an island sometime in the future. Consider varying heights of countertops. Lower countertops work well for rolling right up to the counter in a wheelchair, but require leg space underneath. (This can also be done with cooking surfaces and the sink. Allow knee clearance for the sink.) Taller countertops, such as bar height, allow you to stand at the counter and chop veggies, etc., without bending forward the slightest bit, ideal for those with back problems. Mount a microwave or wall oven at a reachable height instead of high over the counter top or stove. Add a raised dishwasher that allows you to load and unload dishes without stooping over.

·         Make adjustments in the bedroom. Be sure there is ample maneuvering space. This may require a different furniture arrangement, but more space to move eliminates tripping and other accidents. Also, build a walk-in closet or remodel the one you have. Be sure to add storage at different heights making things easy to access no matter what your condition or ability.

·         Survey the great room.  Make sure the furniture arrangement allows for maximum maneuverability. Remove area rugs that create varied heights on the walking surface eliminating tripping hazards. Also, be sure lamp cords are tucked away so you don’t trip on them. If you store magazines in a basket on the floor, consider putting it in a place that does not hinder traffic such as under an end table.

·         Modify the bathroom. Hire a professional to remodel your bathroom. Make sure there is plenty of room to maneuver. Install a roll-in/walk-in shower with multiple showerheads at adjustable heights. Install and elevated toilet. Add grab bars by each bathroom facility (sink, shower, toilet). Lower the bathroom sink and allow knee space below so you can add a bench to sit on if necessary or roll up to the sink with a wheelchair.

·         Consider your gardening hobby. If you enjoy maintaining a vegetable or flower garden, you might consider raising your beds. Raised garden beds reduce stress and fatigue of bending over for long periods of time allowing you to enjoy your gardening hobby without physical stress for years to come.

·          Learn about community services. Find out if your local community offers a transportation service such as a van or small bus to take residents to the bank, grocery store, doctor appointments, social activities, etc., in the event you are no longer able to drive.

·         Drive around the neighborhood and pay attention to sidewalks and street crossings. Are they safe for wheel chairs or scooters? One day you may find you need to rely on one of these to get around the neighborhood, and safe sidewalks and street crossings will be necessary.

·         Assess your finances. If you are set financially, make arrangements or set aside some money for home health services, cleaning and/or laundry services, should you find you need them one day.

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Apr 25 2012

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What is “Aging in Place?” – The House Plan Shop

Empty-Nester House Plan 035H-0044In the past, if person had trouble living by himself/herself, it was a common sign that it was time to move in with relatives or move into a nursing home. For many people, this is no long the case. Today, many retirees, empty-nesters and seniors have the option to grow old and continue living on their own in their own homes for many years to come. This growing trend is called “aging in place.”

 

Aging in place is more than just staying put in your lifelong home that is familiar to you. It is living in comfortable and safe surroundings that fit with your abilities. People of all ages and abilities value their ability to live independently. But in order to age in place successfully, it is important to plan ahead. Having a plan will help you stay in control of your life for a much longer period of time. Knowing your health risks and financial well-being are two factors that will greatly influence a person’s ability to age in place in a comfortable and familiar setting.

 

Planning ahead to grow old in your home includes choosing a floor plan that is suitable for wheelchairs and walkers should you find you need one in the future. If you can afford to build a new home around with an eye on your golden years, you might consider an empty-nester house plan or even a handicap accessible house plan. Some people choose neighborhoods that offer a community driving service such as a bus of van to take them to the grocery store or bank should they find they are no longer able to drive. Others add ramps or lifts to access the entry door and add grab bars throughout the home making it easy to move around the home safely. Some add security systems that allow them to call for help if they should fall or become ill and are unable to get to a phone. Still others dedicate a portion of their finances to a savings account should they need to hire a healthcare provider, a laundry service, etc., to come into the home for regular visits should things become too hard for them to handle on their own.

 

There are many things you can do in your own home now to make it ready for you to age in place when the time comes. Please watch for The House Plan Shop’s next blog, Aging in Place and How to Do It in Your Home for ideas on what you can do to make your home ready to age in place.

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Dec 14 2011

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6 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season from The House Plan Shop

Dress Warm this WinterWhile the holidays can be fun, they can also be a time of sickness and poor health. The House Plan Shop encourages you to review the following tips for a healthy holiday season.

 

  1. Keep Warm – For most parts of North America, the holidays come with the changing temperatures and cold weather. Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially for the elderly and infants. Dress warm using several layers of clothing and stay dry. Don’t forget to cover your head and hands.
  2. Wash your Hands – Keeping your hands clean is one of the easiest and most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and prevent spreading germs to others. Airports, shopping malls, grocery stores and restaurants are filled with germs, and they are all places we seem to spend more time than normal during the holidays. Wash your hands often with soap and warm, clean running water Scrub for at least 20 seconds. If clean water and soap are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  3. Remember Food Safety – When preparing holiday meals, cookies and other edibles keep you and your family safe from food-related illnesses. Wash your hands and food-prep surfaces often. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping meat, seafood, poultry and eggs (and their juices) away from ready to eat foods. Thoroughly clean cooking utensils, pots, pans and dishes in between uses. Cook foods to their proper temperatures. Refrigerate leftovers immediately. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.
  4. Manage Stress – The holidays are a time of fun and cheer so don’t let them take a toll on your body and health. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook on all holiday activities. Avoid over commitment and manage your time between home, work and fun. Also, manage your holiday budget and do not overspend. In addition, get plenty of rest.
  5. Eat Healthy, Be Active – Moderation is the key to following a healthy diet during the holidays. Substitute your favorite piece of fruit for candy. Eat small portions so you can enjoy a small taste of all of your favorite holiday meals. When it comes to dessert, choose one or two of your favorites from the plethora of sweets and treats at holiday parties. Make an effort to schedule a half hour of exercise every day. Also, encourage your family to participate in fun, healthy activities…and a little fresh air will do everyone some good. Take a walk through the neighborhood with the kids after dinner to look at holiday light displays. Go sled riding. Organize a family game of football or kickball before dinner.
  6. Medication Management – It is easy to get off track, change your schedule and skip your daily routines during the holidays due to so many different special activities and gatherings. If you take daily medications, it is important to stick to your medication schedule. Take medications on time as prescribe. Do not make changes in how you take medication. If you always take your medications with breakfast, make sure you continue taking them with breakfast. If you are traveling out of town for the holidays, don’t forget to pack your medications. It is important that you do not skip doses.

 

Keep these health tips in mind to ensure you have a happy and healthy holiday season.

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Oct 12 2011

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Fire Prevention Week: 6 Home Fire Prevention Tips

Fire Prevention WeekIt is Fire Prevention Week. Here are six important tips/practices for fire prevention and safety in your home. Practice these safety tips in your home to decrease the chances of a home fire.

 

1.    Use Electricity Safely: Check all electrical cords (including extension cords) in your home and replace any that are cracked, frayed or show signs of other damage. If an electrical appliance starts to smoke or smells like it is burning, unplug it immediately. Replace the appliance or have it repaired. Never run cords under rugs and do not overload extension cords or outlets. Fuses and circuit breakers protect you from fire. Do not tamper with the fuse box or use fuses of the improper size.

2.    Cook with Care and Attention: Keep all cooking areas clear from combustibles including the barbecue grill. Never leave anything cooking unattended. Turn handles of pots and pans inward to keep them out or reach of children and prevent someone from bumping the handle and knocking the pot or pan off the stove.

3.    Make Space for Space Heaters: If you use a space heater, it should be place three feet from anything that can catch fire and burn such as curtains, bedding, clothing, paper and furniture. Do not let space heaters run when you are not home or when you are sleeping. Also, keep children and pets away from them.

4.    Candle Safety: While many view candles as a decorative item, they are a huge hazard in homes. Use common sense with candles. Never leave a burning candle unattended in any room in the house, even if you are in the next room. Do not burn candles when you go to bed. Never place a lit candle near combustibles such as curtains, bedding or cabinets. Place lit candles out of reach of children. Do not place burning candles in places like the coffee table or end tables where they can easily be knocked over by people or pets.

5.    Matches are for Adults: Matches and lighters are extremely dangerous when in the hands of a child. Keep them stored in a place out of reach from children and do not leave them in view. Teach children from early on that they are for adults only. If a child finds matches or a lighter, they should tell an adult immediately.

6.    Cool a Burn: Is someone gets burned, immediately place the wound in cool water for 15-20 minutes to relieve the burning sensation and pain. If the burn blisters, chars or becomes an open wound, seek medical attention right away. 

 

It is important to practice these safety tips year round in an effort to prevent a fire in your home.

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Aug 24 2011

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The House Plan Shop – Kitchen Safety Tips

House Plan 027H-0163The kitchen is the heart of most homes and the hub of all types of activities from preparing meals to doing homework and enjoying conversation with family and friends. It is also the room where two-thirds of home fires start. Review this list of kitchen safety tips to identify and correct potential hazards in your home before it is too late.

 

  1. Locate all appliances away from the sink or any other water source.
  2. Keep appliance cords away from hot surfaces, like the range or coffee maker, and away from wet surfaces.
  3. Only plug counter top appliances into GFCI-protected outlets.
  4. Do not use appliances that have been wet.
  5. Unplug all counter top appliances when not in use.
  6. Do not leave counter top appliances on when unattended.
  7. Clean the stove and oven regularly. Also be sure to clean the exhaust hood over the stove.
  8. Keep the cooking area surrounding the stove and oven free of combustibles like hand towels, pot holders, paper towels and recipe books. 
  9. Do not leave something cooking on the stove top or in the oven when unattended.
  10. Give the refrigerator room to breathe. Make sure there is enough room behind the refrigerator to let the air circulate.
  11. Vacuum refrigerator coils every two or three months to eliminate dirt and dust build up that reduces efficiency and can become a potential hazard.

 

With these tips, you’ll be on your way to practicing fire safety in your kitchen.

 

For more information on how to be safe at home, check out our Home Safety Blogs.

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