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Around-the-house hazards

Every year, nearly 2 million older adults are rushed to the emergency room thanks to injuries sustained at home. You may think, That’ll never happen to me. I know the inside of my home like the back of my hand. But area rugs, clutter and some other surprising objects in your home can be hazardous. Here, some dangers you might not be aware of, from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons:

  • Flooring. Whether it’s a bathroom rug, a doormat or carpeting on your stairs, flooring can be dangerous. To be safe, use slip-resistant area rugs and bath mats; avoid patterned carpeting on the stairs (it makes it harder to see the edges of steps); and remove throw rugs from the kitchen. If your stairs aren’t carpeted, place nonslip treads on each step. And immediately repair any loose wooden floorboards throughout your home.
  • Lighting. If you can’t see, you risk all kinds of accidents. Update your light switches with glow-in-the-dark ones or make sure switches are at the entrance to rooms, so you won’t stumble trying to turn on a light. Your stairs should be well-lit, with a light switch at the top and bottom of the stairs. If you find yourself making middle-of-the-night bathroom trips, put some night-lights between your bedroom and the bathroom.
  • Clutter. No matter how tempted you are to place stuff on the stairs to bring up later, don’t do it: It makes it too easy to slip and fall. And keep the floor in your bedroom and living room clear so you don’t trip over unexpected objects.
  • Furniture. Choose a bed you can easily get in and out of, and make sure the furniture in commonly used rooms is arranged in a way that makes walking easy, with end tables, coffee tables and other small pieces out of the way. If you find it difficult to stand up from your couch or chairs, replace them with ones you can more easily maneuver around, and get rid of any wobbly furniture.
  • Bathtub. It’s slippery in there, so be sure you have a nonskid mat in the tub and outside of it. Grab bars in the shower and near the toilet are a good idea, and if you need it, consider using a sturdy plastic seat in the tub.