Staying Safe In Your Home During the Holidays

  • November 21, 2018
Staying Safe In Your Home During the Holidays

There’s a certain truth to the lyrics from the Perry Como song “There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays,” which can be heard regularly this time of year. For many of us, being home during the holidays evokes thoughts of keeping warm by the fireplace and carrying out cherished traditions with loved ones.

It’s easy to put blinders on during the holidays, since our main focus is holiday cheer, but it is important to remember that there are safety hazards that any senior living alone should be aware of, along with their primary caregiver. From choosing the right decorations to removing fire hazards in the home, there are multiple holiday safety hazards that need to be taken into consideration.

How to Safely Decorate Your Home

The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without the decorations. Not only do they help you get in the mood for the upcoming celebrations, but they also represent many beloved memories from holidays past.

Although they may not seem like holiday safety hazards, decorations can be dangerous for a senior living alone, but there are ways you can make your home both safe and festive. Simply follow these preventative measures from Home Hero if you plan on decorating your home for the holidays:

  • Start decorating early. There’s a lot of pressure to get everything done for the holidays as fast as possible, but rushing will only increase your risk of experiencing an accident in the home. Remember the old saying, “haste makes waste!” and give yourself plenty of time to decorate, or split it up over the course of a few days so you don’t overexert yourself.
  • Decorate without cluttering your home. When it comes to decorating your home, less is more. Since most falls are caused by tripping over clutter in the home, try to follow the “less is more” train of thought this year and pick your 3 or 4 favorite decorations. Arrange the decorations so that there is plenty of room for you to walk, especially if you use a cane or walker.
  • Keep electrical cords out of walking paths. Since electrical cords are one of the biggest holiday safety hazards for seniors, remove all wires and cords from walking paths. Or even better, use battery-operated decorations so you don’t have to worry about tripping over a wire or cord.
  • Avoid window decorations. Although window decorations spread holiday cheer to the neighborhood, they block sunlight from coming into your home. Poor lighting is a common cause of elderly falls, so keep the windows clear of any decorations and open the curtains during the day.
  • Place decorations in easily-accessible places. It’s very easy to lose your balance when standing on a ladder or stepstool, so keep all of your decorations at eye-level instead of putting them up high.

Decorating your home for the holidays is a big undertaking, so if you’re a senior living alone, don’t be afraid to ask family member or neighbor to help you put up decorations. Not only is this a great way to socialize, but it could also be a new tradition for your family to enjoy together, too!

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How to Prevent Fire Hazards in the Home

Although they are a central part of the holiday season for most families, Christmas trees were actually the cause of over 200 house fires between 2010 and 2014 according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Christmas trees, however, aren’t the only fire hazards in the home during the holiday season.

Heating equipment and damaged electrical cords are two other reasons why most house fires occur in the wintertime, so ensure your safety during the holidays and lower the risk of a house fire with these tips:

  • Choose the right tree. The best way to prevent house fires during the holiday season is by buying a flame-resistant artificial tree. Artificial trees are much less likely to catch fire, but you still need to place the tree a safe distance away from fireplaces, vents, radiators, candles and space heaters. It’s also a good idea to decorate it using flame-resistant ornaments.
  • Use LED indoor lights. When it comes to decorating your home and the Christmas tree, LED lights are the safest option because they actually burn cooler than other lights, greatly reducing the risk of a house fire. Before you use any lights, however, ensure that none of the cords are frayed or damaged. Once the lights are all up, never leave them on unattended, even if you're just leaving your home for a short time.
  • Keep your heater systems safe. Have a trusted professional come to your home to ensure that your furnace or oil burner works properly before you turn the heat on. It’s best that they visit your home in the fall so they have plenty of time to fix any problems before the cold weather sets in. If you use fireplaces or space heaters for additional warmth, ensure that all flammable objects are a safe distance away.
  • Regularly check smoke detectors. Since a senior living alone is at a greater risk of suffering injuries in a house fire, it's essential that you have working smoke detectors in your home. Instead of risking an accident by standing on a ladder or stepstool, have a family member or neighbor check your smoke detectors at least twice a year.
  • Have a fire emergency plan in place. Once smoke detectors alert you of a house fire, you only have two minutes to evacuate. That’s why in addition to removing fire hazards in the home, creating a fire emergency plan before this emergency occurs is essential. If you're hosting a holiday party with loved ones this year, make sure that your guests are aware of the plan so they know the fastest route to safety.

Guaranteed Protection in Any Emergency

Although there are many holiday safety hazards lurking in your home, a medical alert device from Medical Guardian will guarantee your safety every day of the year --including holidays. Should you experience a fall, house fire, medical emergency or power outage, or if you simply need a helping hand, our top-rated 24/7 monitoring center will send you the immediate help you need.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hilary Young is a health and wellness expert that specializes in both senior life and caregiving. She'd love to hear more about your thoughts on aging, healthy living, and caregiving, and you can find her on Twitter at @hyoungcreative to start the conversation.

KEYWORDS: holiday safety hazards, senior living alone, fire hazards in the home, senior safety

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