Safety in the Home


Home accidents are a major cause of injury and death, especially for those over 60.  As people grow older, they may be less agile and their bones tend to break more easily.  A simple fall can result in disabling injury.  All patients need to take special precautions to ensure a safe living environment.  Most accidents in the home can be prevented by the elimination of hazards.  Use the “Check for Safety” booklet to determine the safety level of your home.

Check each statement that applies to your home or to your habits in your home.  Then review the unchecked boxes to determine what else you can do to make your home a safer place to live.


General Safety

  • Emergency phone numbers are posted by each telephone.
  • Outside doors are kept locked at all times.  Do not open the door to an unfamiliar face. Ask for identification and call someone to verify who they say they are.
  • Door-to-door salesmen are not let into your home. They are asked to come back when a friend or family member will be with you.
  • Valuables that may be easily stolen are kept out of sight.
  • Telephone and television solicitations are not accepted. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Household maintenance (painting, roofing, etc.) is scheduled with a reputable company. Have a friend or family member assist you.

Electrical Safety

  • Electrical appliances and cords are clean and in good condition and not exposed to liquids.
  • Electrical equipment bears the Underwriters Labs (UL) label.
  • An adequate number of outlets are located in each room where needed. There are no “octopus” outlets with several plugs being used.
  • Electrical outlets are grounded.
  • Lighting throughout the house is adequate.
  • Burned-out lights are replaced.
  • Repair or replace frayed, broken or brittle cords.
  • Keep cords from under rugs, through doorways or across walkways.
  • Keep cords away from heat sources and appliances and away from oil or water.
  • Use extension cords only temporarily.

Preventing Falls

  • Use night lights in bathrooms, halls and kitchen.
  • Light switches are located at the top and bottom of stairways and at both ends of long halls.
  • A flashlight with good batteries or a lamp is within easy reach of your bed.
  • Throw rugs are removed or have a nonskid backing and are not placed in traffic areas.
  • Clear all clutter from the house, especially from pathways.
  • Electrical and telephone cords are placed along walls — not under rugs — and away from traffic areas and do not cross pathways.
  • There are no step stools without high handrails.
  • Clearance in the stairway provides adequate headroom.
  • Stairways and halls are well lit.
  • Use handrails on stairs. To avoid a fall, never leave objects on steps. Make sure handrails are securely fastened.
  • Steps are in good condition and free of objects.
  • Steps have non-skid strips or carpeting is securely fastened and is free from holes and fraying.
  • Be aware of coffee tables, hassocks and stools to keep from tripping over them.
  • Spills are cleaned up immediately.
  • You are aware of any medications being taken which may cause dizziness or unsteadiness.
  • Alcoholic beverages are limited to no more than two per day.
  • When seated or lying down, stand up slowly.
  • A cane can be used for extra stability.
  • Outside walks are kept clear of snow and ice in the winter.
  • Outside steps and entrances are well lit.

Kitchen Safety

  • Stove and sink areas are well lit.
  • Curtains are kept away from the stove .
  • Exhaust fans are turned on when cooking.
  • Kitchen exhaust system discharges directly outside.
  • Adequate counter space is available to keep from lifting
  • Counter space is kept clean and uncluttered.
  • Pan handles are turned away from burners and the edge of the stove.
  • Hot pan holders are kept near the stove.
  • Microwave oven is operated only when food is in it.
  • Heavy items are not stored above your easy reach.
  • Cooking on high heat with oils and fat is avoided.
  • Clothing with loose sleeves is not worn when cooking.
  • Refrigeration and proper storage are used to avoid food poisoning.
  • Perishable foods are kept refrigerated and periodically checked for freshness.
  • Kitchen appliances are turned off when they are not being used

Bathroom Safety

  • Bathtub or shower has a non-skid mat or strips in the standing area.
  • Bathtub or shower doors are glazed with safety glass or plastic.
  • Grab bars are installed on the walls by the tub or toilet. Handrails may be needed to enter or exit tub or shower.
  • Towel bars and soap dish in the shower are made of durable materials and are firmly installed and are not used as grab bars.
  • Keep electrical equipment away from water. If medical equipment gets wet, call the equipment company and ask for it to be checked or replaced.
  • The water heater thermostat is set below 120° F to prevent accidental scalding.
  • Night lights are used to brighten the way to the bathroom at night.
  • Use a tub or shower chair if it is difficult getting in and out of tub.

Outside Areas

  • Steps and walkways are in good condition and free of objects.
  • Porches, balconies, terraces and other elevations or depressions are protected by railings or otherwise protected.
  • The garage is adequately ventilated.
  • Large trees are healthy and have no dead limbs.

Hazardous Items and Poisons

  • Care is used in storage of hazardous items. They are stored only in their original containers.
  • You know how to contact your poison control team.
  • Products that contain chlorine or bleach are not mixed with other chemicals.
  • The risk of insecticides is understood. They are only bought for immediate need, and excess is stored or disposed of properly.
  • Hazardous items, cleaners and chemicals are kept out of reach of children and confused or impaired adults.
  • Household trash is disposed of in a covered waste receptacle outside the home.

Medication Safety

  • Never take medications that are prescribed for someone else.
  • All of your medications are written down and the list shown to your doctor or pharmacist to keep from combining drugs inappropriately. If there are any changes, they are added to the list immediately.
  • Know the name of each of your medicines; why you are taking it; how to take it and its potential side effects.
  • Medication side effects are reported to your health care provider.
  • Medications are taken exactly as instructed.
  • Alcohol is NOT used when you are taking medicine.
  • Medicines are not stopped or changed without your doctor’s approval, even if you are feeling better.
  • The chart or container system (egg carton or med-planner) is used to help you remember what kind, how much, and when to take medicine.
  • Your medicine is taken with a light on so you can read the label.
  • Medicine labels are read carefully and medicines are kept in their original containers.
  • Medications are stored safely in a cool, dry place according to instructions on the label of the medication.
  • If you miss a dose, you do not double the next dose later.
  • Old medications are disposed of as directed.
  • Medicines are kept away from children.

Medical Equipment/Oxygen

  • Manufacturer’s instructions for specialized medical equipment should be kept with or near the equipment and are followed for providing a proper environment.
  • Routine and preventive maintenance is performed according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Phone numbers are available in the home to obtain service in case of equipment problems or equipment failure.
  • Backup equipment is available if indicated and you are proficient in its use in the event of power outage.
  • Adequate electrical power is provided for medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators and other equipment.
  • Equipment batteries are checked regularly by a qualified service person.
  • All oxygen equipment is kept away from open flame. There is no smoking around oxygen.
  • Oxygen is not allowed to freeze or overheat.
  • If you have electrically powered equipment such as oxygen or ventilator, you should register with your local utility company.

Fire Safety Precautions

  • All family members and caregivers are familiar with emergency 911 procedures.
  • The fire department is notified if a disabled person is in the home.
  • Do not smoke in bed or when oxygen equipment is being used. Provide deep ashtrays for smokers. Wet all cigarette butts before throwing them into the trash.
  • Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
  • The heating system is checked and cleaned regularly by someone qualified to do maintenance. Space heaters, if used, are maintained and used according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Unplug, repair or throw away an appliance that smokes or smells like it is burning.
  • Turn space heaters off when leaving the home and keep them at least 36 inches away from all other objects.
  • Have two escape routes planned, ensuring that first floor windows open easily.
  • If you live in an apartment building, you know the exit stairs location.
  • Hallways are kept clean and elevators are not used in a fire emergency.
  • A fire drill/safety plan is prepared.
  • An escape route is practiced from each room in your home.
  • Fire extinguishers are checked frequently for stability.
  • Smoke detectors are in place in hallways and near sleeping areas. Have at least one on each floor and check them regularly.
  • Smoke alarm batteries are checked and installed when you change your clocks for daylight savings time in the spring and fall.
  • If your fire escape is cut off, remain calm, close the door and seal cracks to hold back smoke. Signal for help at the window.
  • Remember, life safety is first, but if the fire is contained and small, you may be able to use your fire extinguisher until the fire department arrives.

Evacuation of a bed-bound patient:

  • One or two persons can get the patient to safety by placing the patient on a sturdy blanket and pulling/dragging the patient out of the home.
  • Restraint Education Sheet
  • Bright Horizon Home Health wishes to provide you, the caregiver, with information on safe care in the home. Sometimes restraints may be needed to provide this care. A restraint limits freedom of movement and prevents injury. Restraints may be either a device or medication. Please review the following list of safety precautions and ask your home care nurse or therapist if you have any questions.

Alternatives to using restraints:

  • Try to avoid restraining whenever possible.
  • Increase supervision — don’t leave the patient alone.
  • Make the home safe — clear pathways, remove scatter rugs, lower water temperature.
  • Confine to a small, safety-proofed area — no stoves, sharp corners, stairs and sharp utensils.
  • Discourage smoking.

Application of restraints:

  • Pad affected limb (if arm or leg restraint)
  • Fasten end of device to frame of chair or bed, never to side rails or moveable objects.
  • Slightly bend arm or leg before securing limb. Leave as much slack as possible to allow for movement.
  • When applying a waist or jacket restraint, leave enough room to be able to put a hand underneath the belt.

Chemical restraints:

  • Any drugs that are used to control behavioral symptoms. Behavioral symptoms are actions used when a patient is unable to communicate verbally due to a medical condition, which expresses distress.
  • Some examples of behavioral symptoms include: anger, agitation, screaming, continuous wandering, pacing, repetitive actions or paranoia.

Special needs while using a restraint:

  • Avoid using restraints more than necessary.
  • Explain to the patient why restraints are necessary and offer reassurance that their needs will be met.
  • Avoid uncomfortable positions.
  • Provide privacy — keep covered with blanket for toileting.
  • Treat with dignity — talk to patient, read to patient.
  • Place clock and/or calendar within eyesight of patient.
  • Place articles such as water and telephone within reach.
  • Check patient often.
  • Make sure needs are met — water, food, toileting, warmth.
  • Check continued need for restraint.
  • Never restrain feet.
  • If medication is ordered, your pharmacist or nurse will provide information on safe use.
  • Call Bright Horizon Hospice Service Today For More Information. (559) 443-0303