Making Home Safer: Designing to Avoid Falls, Injury & Other Unfortunate Incidents

Making Home Safer: Designing to Avoid Falls, Injury & Other Unfortunate Incidents

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Adrienne Breaux
Nov 9, 2014

I'm not the kind of person who feels like we should bubble wrap the world. But I have slipped — and this is no exaggeration — and had at least five viral video-quality level falls in the last week thanks to a new rug I slapped down on my wood floor. (The two materials are practically hovering over each other there's so little grip.) You don't have to take all the fun out of a home to make it safer, but there are a few common sense things to consider that will make your home a bit more injury-free and enjoyable for all.

Start with less slippery floors

Inspect the flooring in all your rooms and adjust where needed. Like me, have you put rugs down without adding rug pads that will help grip them to the floor? Are any rugs' edges coming up at the corners? (Depending on the rug material, you may be able to use some water and a heavy stack of books to bend it down). Look to room and floor transitions...are any thresholds coming up and need repair?

Make sure levels are on the level

Folks with level changes in their home and stairs should pay special attention. You don't have to install reflective stickers on treads or light up hallways like a movie theater, but you might avoid putting eye-catching elements up high — so that guests aren't looking up high and not down low where the level is changing — and you should pay attention to the flooring used in these areas.

Keep the traffic flow area clear of sharp/hard edges

This can be tough in small spaces where there's not a lot of room to work with anyway. Identify the biggest traffic flow areas of the home, and see how far and how abrasively sharp furniture edges poke out. When possible move or rearrange, or consider adding other design elements in front of edges to make them more visible or softer.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Care for equipment

Something you might not think about is making sure your home's equipment is in tip-top shape. From keeping tools (like power tools, kitchen tools, blenders and more) clean and operating safely, to routinely testing smoke detectors to make sure they're doing their job. But also look to simpler objects like ladders and step stools — are they more wonky than handy? — and knives and scissors (sharper tools are actually safer than dull ones).

Don't forget about kids and pets

Parents will probably already have baby proofing covered in their own homes, but if you've got friends with kiddos who come to visit, consider thinking about safety issues for them when you've got guests in your home. Usually just asking parents what they think you need to consider for your home will help you know what to do. And then for pets — your own or guest pets — remember to consider them when picking out plants.

What would you add to the list?

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