Our homes fulfill many needs for us. Often, the most basic need is for shelter from the elements and intruders. Once we are protected and secure, other needs can be met. Comfort and a place for self-expression are vital for our well-being. Home gives a feeling of independence. Our home should also be a place in which we can be safe from accidents and injuries.
Shelter and Protection
You must feel safe and secure in order to be able to relax, so be security conscious. Put strong dead bolt locks on front and back doors. If your situation allows, install a burglar alarm system. A peephole for all outside doors will let you can see who is at the door before you open it. Install the peephole at the proper height for you. The most effective peepholes allow you to see a range of 180 degrees from side to side.
Home accidents are a major source of injuries and can cause death. Older persons, whose bones are often less dense and more brittle, are especially vulnerable to serious injuries from home accidents. A simple fall that results in a broken bone can become a serious, disabling injury that limits one’s independence.
As we age, our senses of sight, touch, hearing, and smell tend to decline. Our physical abilities are reduced, and certain tasks such as stretching, lifting, and bending become more difficult. In addition, we also experience a slowing of judgment and reaction time. As a result, we cannot respond as quickly as when we were younger. These normal changes in perception, physical abilities, and judgment makes us more prone to accidents. Simple precautions and adjustments can help ensure a safe, accident-free home.
Below, you will find a series of checklists. Use these lists as you go through your home. Make a check mark next to those items or behaviors that you already have.
If there are items that you do not check, then your home is not as safe as it could be. By improving those items not marked, you can make your home a safer and more comfortable place to live. While the suggestions in this publication are for older people, they apply to all age groups as well.
If you find that your home does need changes in order to make it safe, you may want to hire a home repair contractor or handyman. It is important to select a reputable contractor. Here are a few guidelines to help protect you:
Ask friends to recommend repair contractors.
Get at least three written estimates for the project. Most contractors give free estimates.
Ask for and check references.
If licensing is required in your area, ask to see the contractor’s license. Also ask for proof of insurance and bonding.
Do not pay the contractor in full before the work is done. Some contractors will ask for a small down payment, which is permissible.
Get a signed written agreement before work begins or money is exchanged. The agreement should specify both work and payment schedules. It should also detail the type of work to be completed.
Do not make final payments on the project until the work has been performed to your satisfaction.
Check with the Better Business Bureau or the attorney general’s office if you have questions or complaints about a contractor.
Reference: Prepared by Sarah D. Kirby Extension Housing Specialist, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.