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You can actively limit the risk of accidents in the home by taking the following simple steps:
Care should be taken around the home to minimise the risk of trips and falls. As you get older, falls are more likely because your reaction time slows. Your muscles and joints may also get stiffer, making them less flexible. Illness, medications and vision changes can also affect balance. Tips to make the home safer and reduce the risk of trips and falls include:
- Installing some basic home safety devices like secure handrails on both sides of stairs and grab bars for baths.
- Ensuring stairs and staircases are well lit. Use night-lights to brighten dark hallways, bathrooms and stairways.
- Using non-skid bath mats or strips in the bath and shower
- Ensuring rugs are secured or better still, do without small rugs or mats as these could easily slide. Bare floors are the best option.
- Checking that carpets are tacked firmly to each stair.
- Ensuring stairs are free from clutter and loose leads / flexes.
For further information about fall prevention visit the website of The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
Older people could be particularly vulnerable to accidental fires in the home so it is important that you are aware of the potential fire hazards around you. Simple precautions can be taken to ensure your safety and that of your home. The following is a list of possible fire hazards and what can be done to prevent an accident in the home:
- Chip and Grill Pans – should never be left unattended when in use. Grill pans should be kept free of a build-up of fat. Deep fat fryers are preferable to use rather than the old-type chip pans.
- Smoking – Smoking in bed or when tired and relaxing on the sofa should be avoided as a lighted cigarette could be dropped onto bedclothes or onto furniture if you drop off to sleep. Care should be taken when disposing of hot ash or cigarette butts to ensure that they are extinguished properly.
- Electrical Appliances – should be treated with care and used as per the manufacturer’s instructions. The British Standard number or European safety mark indicates that an appliance meets certain safety standards. Check your electrical appliances from time to time and look out for worn or frayed leads, damage, loose connections, chipped or damaged plugs and rectify these immediately. Power points should never be overloaded. If electrical repairs need to be carried out, they should be done so by a qualified electrician.
- Heaters – think about where these are placed in the home so as not to cause a tripping hazard. The room should be well ventilated, particularly where gas heaters are in use and, if necessary, any heater should have a guard around it. Clothes should never be dried close to electric heaters or on a fireguard in front of the fire.
- Candles - should never be left unattended and, if used, should be placed on an appropriate surface away from any flammable materials.
In addition, a night time routine of checking that electrical appliances are switched off and unplugged before going to bed, closing all doors, using a fire guard and emptying ash trays will reduce the chances of a fire starting during the night.
A smoke alarm that meets British Standard BS5446 Part 1 and carries the kite mark should always be fitted, checked weekly and the battery replaced once a year.
To raise awareness of the dangers of fire in the home, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) offers a complete Home Fire Safety Check if you are over 60 or have a disability or impaired mobility.
To request a free Home Fire Safety Check, visit the NIFRS website.
A personal alarm can help you feel secure. They can also give your family peace of mind if they know that you have it on you. A personal alarm can come in the form of a pendant worn around the neck or a bracelet worn on the wrist. Instead of it making a loud alarm when activated, a monitoring service will be contacted in the same way as a home alarm system.
Personal alarm services ensure that your friends and family can be contacted at the press of a button. If needed, it will also link in with an emergency response service such as the police or ambulance. This system is generally used if you:
- Are disabled
- Need support
- Are at risk of falling
- Are worried about unwanted callers
There are a range of service providers available. Local ones include:
Help will be on hand 24 hours a day and every day of the year.
The NI Direct website offers a wealth of information for support and safety in your home, including invaluable information on gas and carbon monoxide safety. Please visit for your own benefit.