Home Safe Home
Make your home safe for young kids and the elderly.
All it takes is careful planning and making
appropriate changes in your home.
Rod, 81, suffers from a condition that makes his
muscles weak and rigid and his movements slow. He
walks short, shuffling steps with arms held stiffly
at the sides. He stands with his trunk slightly bent
as if he would, at anytime, trip over. "I feel dizzy
most of the time. I remember falling on my buttocks
twice," says Rod. "And I fear falling again."
Rod belongs to the accident-prone segment of the
population because his physical capabilities have
changed and he spends most of his time at home. The
rising number of nuclear families in the workforce
may lead to the elderly being left alone in the
The elderly and the very young are more likely to
experience preventable home hazards, according to a
BBC report. More people die in the home every week
than in road accidents, the report noted.
Caring for the young and the elderly is not only
about protecting them but also allowing them a
degree of control and independence. The home needs
to be transformed into a safe and accident-free
Accidents are the No. 1 health hazard for children.
Accidents account for more than one-third of
childhood deaths between ages land 14-more than the
five leading fatal diseases combined. They also
cause permanent or temporary disabilities. Children
up to the age of 5 years commonly become victims of
injuries in the home. These happen quickly and are
more likely to occur when adults caring for the
child are under stress, in a rush or when routines
Raquel from the Philippines, 55-year-old mom to two
daughters recounts her children's experience with
home accidents: "My eldest first got the shock of
her life when she was barely 3 years old. She took a
hairclip left on the table by accident and put it in
a power outlet. My youngest, nearly 4 then, wanted
to help with house chores. She took a broomstick and
started sweeping the floor. I didn't notice that she
was already near the staircase. She fell about seven
steps down the first floor."
Falls from heights, drowning and traffic-related
injuries comprise the top three reasons for death
Common home hazards:
• Crowded or cluttered furniture
• Furniture with sharp edges
• Sharp objects, such as knives, left on table tops
• Containers with water
• Lack of window grilles or window locks (for flats
or apartment level 2 and above)
Get down on your hands and knees and explore each
room at your child's level. Childproofing can never
be 100 percent effective. The American Medical
Association and Safe USA recommend the following to
protect your child.
To prevent water accidents:
• Keep a close watch on young children when they
swim, play or bathe in the water. Never leave them
in the care of another child.
• Teach your older children to always swim with a
• Remind young children that eating or chewing gum
while swimming can cause choking.
• Install a pool fence with self-latching gates
around the swimming pool.
• Remove balls and toys from the pool immediately
after use. This may tempt the child to lean into the
pool and fall in.
• Make sure you empty all buckets, pails and
bathtubs completely after use. An infant or toddler
can drown in as little as 1 inch of water.
• Set your water heater to a temperature that will
not scald the skin. Test the temperature by dipping
your elbow in a tub of water.
To prevent other accidents:
• Put babies in a safe place such as on the floor or
in a crib with secured guardrails. Babies can roll
off furniture and hurt themselves.
• Follow instructions for use of baby equipment to
prevent strangulation from straps, such as those in
high chairs and strollers.
• Avoid putting any toys or soft bedding in infants'
cribs as they may contribute to suffocation.
• Install soft flooring or nonskid rugs around your
child's crib or bed.
• Consider using a "stationary walker" instead of a
baby walker. According to a 1997 research, baby
walker-related injuries resulted in more than 16,000
children receiving treatment in hospital emergency
• Place tables and chairs away from windows.
• Use child gates at the top or the bottom of stairs
to block access to stairways.
can be a major life-changing event in the elderly
and is one of the leading health concerns for the
aging population. Falls can happen anytime and
anyplace to people of any age. But for people age 65
and older, two thirds to one-half of falls occur in
or around the home, according to The Journal of the
American Medical Association. But certain factors
affect the elderly and make them more likely to
fall. These include age-related changes, specific
medical conditions, medications and environmental
Age-related changes include:
• A decrease in height, which can be attributed to
osteoporosis, can change the elderly's posture,
center of gravity and gait.
• Considerable loss of muscle mass will decrease
muscle strength and tone.
• Reduction in water content and synovial fluid in
tendons, ligaments and joints may likely increase
stiffness and decrease the range of motion.
• Decrease of cerebellar cells (Purkinje) and
impaired sensory reactions may impair coordination
• More rigid and smaller iris, yellowing of the lens
and decreased light adaptation and depth perception
impairs the ability to detect and avoid potential
• Impacted cerumen and the calcification of ear
mechanisms may lead to an inability to perceive
Medical conditions such as dementia, or memory loss,
lead the elderly to be forgetful, confused and
worrisome. Other diseases or disorders that may lead
• Irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias)
• Blood pressure changes
• Cancer of the bones
• Alzheimer's disease
• Parkinson's disease
• Urinary and bladder dysfunction
• Vision or hearing loss
Medications may worsen a known problem in the
elderly, such as dizziness. Certain medicines induce
delirium, depression and falls. These include:
• Antianxiety drugs
• Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
To prevent accidents in the elderly, watch
out for potential hazards in the home.
• Move furniture from the center of the rooms and
keep hallways free of cords to prevent accidental
bumps and trips. Keep the home simple.
• A person with dementia may forget that the stove
is lit and leave it unattended, which may lead to a
fire. Restrict access to the kitchen when it's not
• keep poisons and cleaning agents in a locked
• Improve lighting in bathrooms, hallways and
• Use nonslip mats in the shower.
• Consider buying appliances with auto-stop features
or keep a timer in the kitchen.
• Use a corkboard to post important numbers that you
may need in an emergency.
While there is no such thing as a completely
accident free home, major accidents can be avoided.
All it takes is careful planning and carrying out
appropriate changes in your home. Caring for the
young and elderly involves recognizing their
changing needs and ensuring their safety.
FIRST AID KIT
a first aid kit in your home. To make sure you have
complete supplies, check for:
• First aid manual
• Sterile gauze
• Adhesive tape
• Adhesive bandages in several sizes
• Elastic bandage
• Anti septic wipes
• Antibiotic cream
• Antiseptic solution
• Hydrocortisone cream (1%)
• Paracetamol (acetaminophen) and aspirin (aspirin
is not recommended for children under age 12)
• Sharp scissors
• Safety pins
• Disposable instant cold packs
• Calamine lotion
• Ethyl alcohol
• Plastic gloves
• Flash light and extra batteries
• List of emergency phone numbers
• Mouthpiece for administering CPR