Updated April 2020
Prevent Falls with a Home Safety Checklist
Every 13 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall, according to the National Council on Aging. One way to avoid a trip to the hospital is to reduce the likelihood of a fall in the first place.
Creating a personalized home safety checklist – based on your routine and health – helps make your home safer and decreases the opportunity to trip, slip and fall.
Use this guide to design your own tailored list of home safety tactics.
1. Gather Resources
Get ideas for checklist items from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Check for Safety publication and the Philips Lifeline checklist. Your homeowner’s insurance company may also have resources, including sending an agent out to help you evaluate home safety. Select items that are the most relevant for your living situation, habits and health status.
2. Assess Your Residence
Next, look for potential hazards that could lead to falls.
- For the next week, keep a journal of your activities from the time you get up until the time you go to bed. This includes things like “cooking breakfast” or “tidying up the living room” as well as things like “had trouble finding my way in the dark hallway” or “almost tripped on broken concrete on the front walk”. These insights help you understand your daily routine so you can factor that into your safety planning.
- Perform a “walk-through” of your home, inside and outside. Note all potentially hazardous situations in each room and in your outdoor spaces. Since it’s easy to overlook safety hazards in familiar surroundings, ask a friend or family member to be an extra set of eyes.
- Combine the two lists, noting the activities from your journal to the corresponding room or outdoor area. For example, you take your shower or bath in the bathroom, so copy that activity to the bathroom hazard list. Looking at activities and hazards together enables you to identify more risks.
3. Create Your Home Safety Checklist
Now look at the risks and activities room by room and devise a solution. For example, if you wrote, “I tripped over a magazine on the floor in the living room,” plan to declutter the living room or move the magazine rack next to your favorite chair or couch. Or perhaps you had to step on a stool to reach something. The solution might be asking someone to help you move items within reach or purchase a telescoping lightbulb changer or claw so you don’t have to step on a stool or ladder when you’re home alone. Review your checklist periodically and add to it as necessary. Get more ideas for home improvement projects to reduce fall risk.
4. Share Your Checklist
Once you’ve built your checklist, compare notes with your friends. You may get some new ideas from each other, or uncover hazards you hadn’t thought of.
Proactively creating a home safety checklist minimizes the risk for falls and puts your family at ease, which removes unnecessary stress from your life. Start working on your plan today.