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Home Safety: A Senior’s Guide to Avoiding Hazards in your Home

Your home is a place that you should always feel safe in. As a senior there are many safety aids and features that you can implement in your home to ensure your safety. However, it may be tough to know where to start with making these changes, which is why we have created a guide all about the different things you can do to make sure your home is safe for you.

  1. Six important tips for home safety
    i. Remove all hazards
    ii. Keep emergency numbers handy
    iii. Protect against fires
    iv. Assess the lighting
    v. Prevent poisoning
  2. Home safety checklist
    i. Outdoors
    ii. Indoors
    iii. Stairs
    iv. Bathroom
    v. Kitchen
    vi. Bedroom
    vii. Garage/basement/workroom
  3. Safety aids
    i. Walking aids
    ii. Bathroom aids
    iii. Kitchen aids
  4. Safety features in your home
    i. Lighting, switches and outlets
    ii. Doors
    iii. Stairs
    iv. Floors
    v. Shelving
    vi. Taps, shower heads, grab bars
    vii. Locks and latches
  5. Conclusion
  6. References

Six Important Tips for Home Safety

  1. Remove all hazards

Did you know that falls are the leading cause of injury for seniors? [1] By removing hazards, you reduce the risk of falls. You can do this by removing throw rugs or adding rubberized backing to better grip the floor. Declutter your house often and avoid laying extension cords across the floor. Also consider donating/discarding old furniture to create more of an open environment.

  1. Keep emergency numbers handy

Set up emergency numbers on your phone so that they’re easily available for you if needed. Emergency numbers should include contacts such as friends, family members, professional caregiving services, healthcare providers and poison control.

  1. Protect against fires

To protect against fires, change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year. Make sure to remove damaged or frayed electric cords and remove candles as they can cause fires if left burning and unattended. In the event of a fire, remember to stay low when exiting your home (this reduces chances of smoke inhalation) and to “stop, drop and roll” if clothes ignite.

  1. Assess the lighting

You should keep your house well-lit to prevent injuries. Do this by replacing any burnt out lightbulbs and considering installing new light fixtures in dimly lit areas in your home. Consider installing a motion detection light inside and outside the home so your lights will turn on and off automatically.

  1. Prevent poisoning

Make sure there is a carbon monoxide detector near all bedrooms and test it to make sure it’s working. Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that you cannot see or smell [2], so it’s important to have a functioning carbon monoxide detector. Also remember to practice medicine safety by having your medicine labels printed largely, taking them in a well-lit room and storing and disposing of them safely.


Below is a checklist you can use to determine what changes in your home you may want to consider. [3]

  • Outdoors
  1. Do all your entrances have an outdoor light?
  2. Do your outdoor stairs, pathways or decks have railings and provide good traction (i.e. textured surfaces)?
  3. Are the front steps and walkways around your house in good repair and free of clutter, snow or leaves?
  4. Do the doorways to your balcony or deck have a low sill or threshold?
  5. Can you reach your mailbox safely and easily?
  6. Is the number of your house clearly visible from the street and well-lit at night?


  • Indoors
  1. Are all rooms and hallways in your home well lit?
  2. Are all throw rugs and scatter mats secured in place to keep them from slipping?
  3. Have you removed scatter mats from the top of the stairs and high traffic areas?
  4. Are your high traffic areas clear of obstacles?
  5. Do you always watch that your pets are not underfoot?
  6. If you use floor wax, do you use the non-skid kind?
  7. Do you have a first aid kit and know where it is?
  8. Do you have a list of emergency numbers near all phones?


  • Stairs
  1. Are your stairways well-lit and do you have light switches at the top and bottom of the stairs?
  2. Are your stairs in good repair and free of clutter?
  3. Do the steps of your stairs have a non-skid surface?
  4. Are there solid handrails on both sides of the stairway?
  5. Do you remove your reading glasses when using the stairs?


  • Bathroom
  1. Do you test the water temperature before you get into the bathtub or shower?
  2. Is your hot water temperature set to the recommended 49°C (120°F)?
  3. Do you have non-slip surfaces in the tub or shower?
  4. Do bathmats next to the tub or shower have rubberized backing or are they secured in place to keep them from slipping?
  5. Do you have a night light in the bathroom?
  6. Does your bathroom door lock have an emergency release?
  7. Do you have grab bars that have been properly placed and well anchored to the wall in the bathtub or shower?
  8. If you have any trouble getting on and off the toilet, do you have a raised toilet seat and a grab bar that is well anchored?
  9. If it’s difficult for you to take a shower standing up, have you considered a bath seat?


  • Kitchen
  1. Are your pots and pans, canned goods and staple foods stored in an easy–to–reach location—between knee and shoulder heights?
  2. Are heavy items stored in the lower cupboards and light items in the higher cupboards?
  3. Do you have a stable step stool (with a safety rail) for reaching high places?
  4. Are the “off” and “on” positions on the stove dials clearly marked?
  5. Are your oven mitts within easy reach when you are cooking?
  6. Do you make sure never to cook while wearing loose-fitting clothing or sleepwear?
  7. Do you have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, mounted on the wall away from the stove?
  8. Do you regularly check that your fire extinguisher is in good operating order?


  • Bedroom
  1. Is there a light switch near the entrance to your bedroom?
  2. Do you have a lamp or a light switch near your bed?
  3. Do you keep night lights or other sources of light on in case you get up in the middle of the night?
  4. Is there a clear path from your bed to the bathroom?
  5. Do you have a phone and a list of emergency phone numbers near your bed?


  • Garage/basement/workroom
  1. Are your workroom and laundry room well lit?
  2. Do you have a telephone in the basement and a list of emergency phone numbers?
  3. Do you keep floors and benches clean to reduce fire and tripping hazards?
  4. Are all your tools and service equipment in good condition? Are the safety locks on?
  5. Is your work area well ventilated, summer and winter?
  6. Are heavy items on lower shelves or in bottom cupboards?
  7. Do you use a ladder or a stable step stool (with a safety rail) for reaching high places?
  8. Are all chemicals, such as bleach, cleaners and paint thinners, clearly identified?
  9. Are flammable materials stored as indicated by the directions on the label and away from sources of heat and flame?
  10. If you have a gas barbecue, is your propane tank stored outside of the house?

Safety Aids

There are several safety aids which can be useful in helping you walk and use your bathroom and kitchen. [3]

  • For walking
    • Canes: canes are a great aid for walking. Make sure you get the right height for you and check the rubber tips to ensure they’re in good shape. Wrists can be attached to prevent dropping and make it easier to hold onto. You can also attack spikes for extra grip on an icy day.
    • Safety soles: use antiskid detachable soles to make walking safer in the winter. Remember that they have to be removed when you’re inside since they will slip on floor surfaces.
    • Walkers: these are worth having if walking for 20 mins is problem for you. You’ll be able to walk further, longer and most come with a seat so you can sit when you need to.
  • Bathroom aids
    • Nonslip surfaces in the tub/shower: anti-slip liquids can be applied directly to tub to create a non-slip surface, preventing falls from happening.
    • Bathmats on the floor:  beside the tub should have rubberized or non-skid backing to prevent falls.
    • Bath seats: allow you to take a shower sitting down and should be used if you have trouble standing or lowering yourself. You can also use a removable shower head to take a shower.
    • Grab bars and poles: these can be installed by bathtubs or shower, or beside the toilet to provide more stability, and help prevent slips and falls. They must be anchored firmly into the studs in the wall. Similarly, floor-to-ceiling poles can also be installed to steady you while getting out of bed or while dressing.
    • Handheld shower heads: these make showering easier and can be installed into different positions on the wall.
    • Raised toilet seats (by 10-15 cm): can make getting on and off the toilet easier. Some are adjustable, some are portable, and some come with safety/handrails.
  • Kitchen aids
    • Automatic shut off: a switch turns the appliance off once it’s been idle for a few minutes, which is useful for kettles, irons, toaster ovens etc. This can prevent the risk of fire.
    • Stepladders: use stepladders instead of reaching for items on your top shelves, which can be dangerous
    • Reacher: useful for those who have trouble bending or reaching high places

Safety Features in your Home

These safety features are changes in your home you may want to consider ensuring a safe environment. [3]

  • Lighting, switches and outlets
    • Consider adding more lighting fixtures and making sure your bulbs are bright
    • Install switches in a lower position so they can be accessible by wheelchair
    • Add more outlets to eliminate the need of extension cords
  • Doors
    • Widen doors so they are wheelchair accessible
    • Replace doorknobs with lever handles so they’re easier to open
  • Stairs
    • Make sure there are firmly anchored handrails on both sides of the stairway
    • Stairway should be well lit
    • Steps should have a non-skid surface
  • Floors
    • Floors should be non-glare and slip resistant material (e.g. hard floor surface or tight pile carpeting)
    • Eliminate uneven surfaces
  • Shelving
    • Add lower level shelves and lower cupboards so things are easier to reach
  • Taps, shower heads, grab bars
    • Lever-type or control-arm-type faucet handles are easier to use
    • Grab bars can be used as support
    • Handheld shower heads are easier to use, especially when using a bath seat
  • Locks and latches
    • Door locks must have an emergency release
    • Locks and latches should have large, easily manipulated knobs or levers


In conclusion, there are many safety measures you can put in place to make sure your home is safe for you. By employing the changes that are most effective for you, you can prevent injury and truly feel comfortable in your home!


[1] https://homecareassistance.com/blog/home-safety-tips-for-seniors
[2] https://www.healthinaging.org/tools-and-tips/home-safety-tips-older-adults
[3] https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/aging-seniors/publications/publications-general-public/safe-living-guide-a-guide-home-safety-seniors.html

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