Make the Home Safer for Young and Old

Make the Home Safer for Young and Old

More children under age 10 die from home accidents than from any single disease. Older Americans are also at a higher risk from home accidents which, each year, kill more than 21,000 and injure 25 million Americans of all ages. However, with a little planning, any home can be made safer for its youngest as well as its oldest residents.

Child Safety.

Here are a few tips to make your home safer for children.

Keep plastic bags and deflated or broken balloons away from young children. Cover unused electric outlets with plastic inserts.

Place medications, cleaning fluids, alcohol, matches, and lighters out of reach.

Store firearms unloaded and in a locked place. Keep keys and ammunition in secure places and separate from firearms.

Use toddler gates at the top and bottom of stairs.

Turn hot water temperature down to 110 degrees or lower. Never leave small children alone in a bathtub.

Be alert for choking hazards, such as toys with small parts that a child can pull off.

Watch for lead hazards, such as peeling paint in homes built before the mid-1970's.

Throw away that baby walker injuries from baby walkers send more than 25,000 small children to emergency rooms each year.

Safety Tips for Older Americans.

Preventing falls, burns, and other injuries may save the life of an aging relative. Hip injuries from falls are a common cause of disability and death in older adults.

Bathroom: Install safety bars near the toilet and bathtub; nonslip bath mats or area rugs on hard floors.

Kitchen: Place items on low, easy-to-reach shelves. Set up a place to sit while doing kitchen work.

Bedrooms: Rearrange furniture for obstacle-free navigation, install night lights, and use nonslip area rugs on hard floors.

Stairwells: Install good lighting and handrails.

Outdoors: Make sure walkways are in good repair. Encourage older relatives to walk during daylight and in good weather.

Remember that you childproof a house because children don't know what's safe; but you elderproof a house so an adult can continue to function safely and independently.

For more safety tips, consult a family physician -- the medical specialist trained to provide complete care for patients of all ages. Family physicians are trained to treat nine out of 10 medical problems, and they know how to help you get the health care services you need.

The preceding article was provided as a public service in support of Family Health Month by The American Academy of Family Physicians, 8880 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, Missouri 64114-2797 USA, (800) 274-2237, ext. 4218, or (816) 333-9700; FAX: (816) 333-3344; e-mail:

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