Home safety tips
Being safe in your home is so important. Follow these simple tips to help improve your or a loved one's safety at home through prevention of infection and falls, electrical, fire and home oxygen safety, and weather emergency readiness.
Preventing the spread of infection
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Keep cold food cold and hot food hot.
- Keep kitchen and bathroom areas clean.
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
Preventing falls in the home
About half of all falls happen at home. Here are a few helpful hints to prevent falls in your home:
- Avoid slippery floors; if you cannot avoid them walk very carefully.
- Either remove throw rugs or tack them down to prevent tripping.
- Be sure you set the brakes on the wheelchair when getting in or out of it.
- If you might fall out of bed, put side rails in place.
- Keep clutter off the floor and out of doorways.
- Keep liquid cleaned up off the floor.
- Know the side effects of your medications and how they could affect your balance and coordination.
- Make sure the temperature in the home is above 65 degrees. If you are exposed to low temperatures for a long time it may lead to dizziness and falling.
- Wear supportive, rubber soled, low heeled shoes. Socks and smooth soled shoes could cause you to slip on stairs and waxed or wood floors.
- Place non-skid strips on bare stairs and make sure hand rails are in place.
- Place grab bars in the bathroom near the toilet and in the tub or shower.
- Use non-skid mats or strips wherever the floor could get wet.
- Have good lighting in all of your rooms and use night lights.
- Keep frequently used items within reach. This includes canes and walkers.
- Arrange furniture so you have a clear walking path.
Blown fuses or tripped breakers can mean too much electrical current is pulled in for one circuit to handle and the fuse will blow or the trip breaker will trip. This helps to protect your home. If too many fuses blow, it could mean you have too many things plugged into one circuit. If your fuses blow frequently, you should call an electrician.
- Be cautious when using small appliances near water sources as in the kitchen or bathroom.
- Do not restrict air flow around your TV to prevent overheating.
- Unplug any appliance that gives off a spark, shocks you or blows a fuse or trips the trip breaker.
- Plug in portable appliances only when you plan to use them.
- Replace frayed or damaged cords and do not overload plugs.
- Never run cords under rugs or in doorways.
- Do not use any appliances or equipment unless you know how to use them.
- Be sure your hands are dry before you use electrical equipment or appliances.
If someone has been shocked and is still in contact with the electrical source, DO NOT TOUCH HIM OR HER because you will get shocked too! Time is important! Quickly turn off the power and call for help.
Home oxygen safety
More and more people are using oxygen therapy outside the hospital, permitting them to lead active, productive lives.
Oxygen helps fire spread fast!
Oxygen increases the speed at which things burn once a fire starts. Home oxygen therapy increases the amount of oxygen in the environment. It will saturate clothing, fabric, hair, beards and anything in the area. Even flame-retardant clothing can burn when the oxygen content increases.
People on home oxygen therapy need to plan and practice home fire drills. Also, make sure the home is equipped with working smoke detectors.
Smoking and home oxygen
People and their families or friends that continue to smoke when there is oxygen in the home increase the risk of a fire that could be deadly. If you or a family member or caregiver smoke in the home when oxygen is present, you should stop immediately.
Oxygen is a drug and must be prescribed by a physician. An exact flow rate given in liters per minute will be ordered by the doctor to increase oxygen level. The flow rate the doctor orders should never be changed without talking to the doctor first.
Safety do not’s
- DO NOT…permit open flames or burning tobacco in the room where the oxygen is being stored or used.
- DO NOT…use any household electric equipment in an oxygen-enriched atmosphere (e.g., an electric razor, electric blanket or heaters).
- DO NOT…use oily lotions, face creams or hairdressings while receiving oxygen.
- DO NOT…use aerosol sprays near oxygen equipment.
- DO NOT…oil or grease oxygen equipment.
- DO NOT…allow oxygen tubing to be covered by any objects.
- DO NOT…leave oxygen equipment on when not in use.
- DO NOT…abuse or handle oxygen containers roughly.
- DO NOT…store oxygen in a confined area such as a closet.
- DO NOT…allow untrained persons to use or adjust equipment.
- DO NOT…attempt to fix or repair oxygen equipment.
- DO NOT…store oxygen containers near radiators, heat ducts, steam pipes or other sources of heat.
- DO NOT…store oxygen near combustible engines such as a car.
- DO NOT…touch frosted systems or piping on liquid systems with your bare hands.
- DO NOT…open cylinder valve quickly.
- DO NOT…transport oxygen in an enclosed area or the trunk of your car.
- DO…transport oxygen in the back seat of your car and secure it properly.
- DO…open your window about one inch when transporting oxygen equipment.
- DO…always have oxygen secured in an oxygen stand, or by a chain or cord.
- DO…call your supplier if you are planning on traveling or transporting your unit.
- DO…post NO SMOKING signs on your doors and have smoke detectors on each floor.
- DO…check the batteries in your smoke detectors every month or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Oxygen concentrator in the home safety
- NO SMOKING signs should be placed in your home on your doors and on the door of the room the concentrator is in.
- Locate smoke detectors on every floor of your home and check the batteries each month.
- DO NOT use extension cords with the oxygen concentrator unit.
- Keep the concentrator at least one foot from the wall, curtains and other obstructions.
- Keep all oil-based products (such as body oils and make-up) away from the unit, tubing, mask and patient when the unit is in use.
- Replace the cannula as needed.
- NEVER operate the concentrator near open flames (stove, fireplace, grill, cigarette, etc.).
- NEVER take a ground plug off a cord so it will plug into a 2-prong outlet.
- DO NOT use household electrical or electrical equipment within five feet of the oxygen unit or patient (e.g, electric razor, electric blanket or electric heater).
- DO NOT store oxygen cylinders in confined spaces such as a closet or car trunk.
- DO have a fire extinguisher in your home.
The best way to prevent fires is to keep your home free of fire hazards.
- DO NOT overload extension cords or circuits ir run cords across the doorways or under rugs.
- Make sure all of your appliances work properly. Never leave food on the stove unattended while cooking.
- Make sure you have turned the burner off after use.
- NEVER smoke in bed.
- Never put metal dishes in the microwave.
- Be very careful about where and when you empty ashtrays.
- Be sure flammable liquids are stored properly.
- Do not let clutter pile up, especially in doorways and walk areas.
- You should have heating equipment checked every year.
- Never dry clothes on a heater of any kind.
- Unplug your small appliances when they are not in use.
- Turn heating pads off before you go to sleep.
Hopefully, you will never have a fire in your home. But if a fire does strike, a fire escape plan may be your only key to A SAFE WAY OUT!!!! Practice your escape plan and have periodic fire drills.
- Make sure your fire department’s phone number is posted near your phone.
- Plan your fire escape route with your family and be sure you have a designated meeting area outside that is easy to get to. Make sure everybody knows they should go to the designated area and stay there.
- Check each room in your house and make sure you have an alternate way to get out. In most homes the second exit is a window so make sure that window can be opened easily and is not stuck shut.
- Stay calm if you hear the smoke detector or fire alarm sound an alarm.
- Crawl to the door. Smoke and poisonous gases collect near the ceiling first.
- Feel the door. If it is hot, do not open it. If it is cool, open it slowly. If you notice fire, smoke or heat when you open the door, close it quickly.
- Use a different exit if the door is warm or you see smoke coming in under the door. If you must climb out of a window slide out on your stomach so you can hang on to the window sill as you drop out.
- If you are unable to get out of the window, wave a sheet or other light-colored object and keep your head out of the window in the fresh air. Make sure all of the doors behind you are closed.
- If your clothes catch on fire DO NOT RUN!! Stop, Drop and Roll.
- If someone else's clothes are on fire, wrap them in a blanket or rug to smother the flames. If no blanket or rug is available, roll them on the ground.
- Sleep with bedroom doors closed to hold back the heat and smoke if a fire starts.
Homebound patients have special needs
- Alert the fire department if there is a disabled person in the house.
- Elderly and homebound people should sleep in bedrooms on the first floor and should have a phone by their bed with emergency numbers taped to it.
Where should you put a smoke detector?
- In every room, especially bedrooms.
- Near appliances, portable heaters, furnace and hot water heater.
If your smoke detector is battery operated, you should check the battery every 30 days.
- You should inform your electric company that you have electrical medical equipment in your home. If for any reason the power goes off, you will be on the electric company's priority list.
- If you lose electrical power during any weather emergency and you have a battery back-up for your medical equipment or a portable oxygen tank for back-up, call 911. Tell them you need transportation to the hospital (or an area with electricity) for medical care if power cannot be restored within a few hours.
- Everyone should keep a disaster supply kit. You should keep the following disaster supplies available at all times in the event of an emergency:
- First aid kit including needed medication
- Battery operated radio
- A flashlight with extra batteries
- Canned food and a can opener
- Bottled water, at least one gallon per person a day and have enough for three days
- Work shoes and work gloves
- Written instructions on how to turn off your home’s utilities
- A blanket or a sleeping bag for each person
- Several plastic bags with ties for waste disposal, if needed
- A candle and matches
- An extra set of clothes for each person
- High protein snacks such as peanuts, cheese, or granola bars
"Tornado watch" means tornadoes are possible. Be prepared to take shelter. If you live in a mobile home, you should move to a stronger structure at this time. Listen to your radio and television and watch the sky.
"Tornado warning" means a tornado has been sighted or detected on radar. Take shelter right away. Turn on a battery operated radio and remain in your shelter until you hear the "All Clear" announcement.
- A basement or cellar is the best protection during a tornado warning, but if this is not available you should go to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor. Avoid areas with glass and doors.
- Stay away from the corners of rooms because they will attract debris. Try to get under a sturdy piece of furniture and use blankets and pillows to protect your head and neck.
- After the storm passes, monitor your radio or television for emergency information instructions.
- Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
"Flash flood watch" means flooding could develop in your area. Listen to your radio and TV stations for further information. Move valuables to the highest floor. Check your disaster supply kit.
"Flash flood warning" means flooding is occurring in your area. You must listen to the radio and TV for information regarding a need for evacuation and other safety measures.
- If ordered to evacuate or if rising water is threatening, leave immediately and get to higher ground.
- DO NOT drive a car through deep water. Two feet of water can sweep your car away. The road could have washed away under the water.
Winter storm or blizzard
"Winter storm watch" means hazardous winter weather conditions are expected in the next 12 to 36 hours and you should be prepared.
- Make sure you have enough food in the house for several days.
- Check your medication supply. Refill any that will run out.
"Winter storm warning" means hazardous winter weather conditions are expected in the next 12 hours or are already occurring.
- Stay inside and cover your windows.
- If there is no heat, close off unneeded rooms and stuff rags or towels under the doors.
- Eat and drink to provide the body with energy and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Wear layers of loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing.