September is Fall Prevention Awareness Month and the perfect time for older adults and caregivers to use CICOA’s Home Assessment Checklist and Home Safety Tips. The kitchen poses many dangers for young and old alike, but older adults who may not see or hear well or can’t move around very easily are especially susceptible to accidents.
Change can be difficult for people of any age, but paring down and moving items, keeping the area clean and clutter-free and other small adjustments can make all the difference when it comes to safety. Here are some simple steps you can take to keep you and your loved one safe in the kitchen:
- Move items and get organized.
- Move frequently used items to shelves and cabinets that are easily accessible.
- Place appliances at waist level, including the microwave.
- Clear counters and floors leaving plenty of space for food prep and walking around.
- Keep food and water bowls for pets out of walkways.
- Mark “on” and “off” positions on appliances clearly and with bright colors.
- Remove clutter and clean.
- Keep counters and floors clean and wipe up spills immediately.
- Get rid of appliances, dishes and utensils that are no longer used.
- Clean out the junk drawer and leave only essential items.
- Check food expiration dates and keep the refrigerator and cabinets cleaned out so items are easy to find and grab. Arrange food incorporating first-in, first-out.
- Store cleaning supplies and other hazardous items away from food, preferably in another room. Make sure these items are always clearly marked.
- Be safe around the stove.
- Keep a fire extinguisher within easy reach.
- Install a smoke detector, check it monthly. Change the battery once a year.
- Keep a fire blanket handy to use on oil and grease fires. It can also be wrapped around a person to keep from getting burns.
- Keep hot pads handy, but not touching or on top of the stove.
- Use burner covers.
- Install a gas shut-off valve that may be turned off when the stove is not in use.
- Clearly mark oven controls. If you can, purchase an oven with controls in the front.
- Point skillet and pan handles toward the back of the stove to prevent them from being knocked over.
- Don’t wear loose fitting clothes. Roll back long, loose sleeves or fasten them with pins or a rubber band when cooking.
- Make small adjustments to the sink and other areas.
- Install a lever-handled faucet.
- Adjust the temperature at the pump so the water isn’t too hot.
- Place socket covers over electrical sockets that are not in use.
- Remove rugs and mats, tape down rugs or use non-skid backing.
- Make sure lighting is sufficient and all lightbulbs work.
- If you must use a stepstool, use one with a bar or handrail (never climb on a chair or table).
- Put a bell on your pet’s collar so you know where it is and can avoid tripping over it.
Go ahead and carve out some time this month to fall-proof your home and make your kitchen safer for you and your loved one.