Home Safety

A safe home setup prevents accidents due to falls, fire, or burglary. Click on the links and video below and explore information on making your home safe. Take the Falls Efficacy Test at the bottom of this page to find out how confident you are in the home.

Techniques to Prevent Falls

  • Bedroom: Put on your AFO and shoes before transferring out of bed; transfer toward your unaffected side of the body; keep your cane or hemi-walker within reach; a soft mattress can cause you to slip off the edge of the bed, consider a firmer mattress; use a bed handle when sitting on the edge of the bed; place table lamps within reach or plug your lamps into a remote control light switch. Place a motion sensor light on the bedroom wall; Remove throw rugs and clutter. Consider using a commode chair next to your bed; keep your urinal and wet wipes within reach. 
  • Bathroom: Wear your AFO and shoes when transferring to and from the toilet and shower; transfer toward your unaffected side of the body; consider hand rails, a versaframe, or a commode chair over your toilet; consider a tub bench or shower chair in the tub/shower stall; remove throw rugs; place a toilet night light in the bathroom. 
  • Kitchen: Keep commonly used items within reach and away from low and overhead cupboards; remove throw rugs; keep your cane or hemi-walker close to you at all times; use a reacher to access deeper shelves in the refrigerator; use an oven rack puller to access the oven;  use proper lighting such as a motion sensor light or overhead LED lighting. 
  • Living Room: Tape down the edges of rugs; consider furniture raisers for your couch and chairs; use a remote control light switch or motion sensor light; rubberband your television remote to your cane or hemi-walker so you are not searching for it; keep your cordless telephone in a fanny pack or waist apron.
  • Stairs: Make sure there are handrails on both sides of the stairs; attach motion sensor lights to illuminate the steps; count each step as you descend the stairs to keep track of when you will reach the last step; consider a stair lift
  • Entry-way: Use a Solar motion sensor light to illuminate entry-way; attach a grab bar close to the front door; make sure there are handrails on both sides of the stairs; remove welcome mat. 
  • Yard: Consider wearing a life-alert; keep your cordless phone in a fanny-pack; keep your cane or hemi-walker with you at all times; wear your AFO and supportive shoes.

Quigly, P. (2016) Redesigned fall and injury management of patients with stroke. 47:6 e92-e94. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/STROKEAHA.116.012094

National Council on Aging (2020). 18 steps to fall proofing your home. https://www.ncoa.org/blog/falls-prevention-home-18-step-safety-checklist/

Video Source: Scott A. Trudeau, PhD, OTR/L, Productive Aging and Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Program Manager for the American Occupational Therapy Association

Check out more details on fall-proofing your home in the Home Safety Evaluation Checklist

Smoke alarms

  • Test your smoke alarm at least once a month by pushing the test button. If you can't reach the alarm, consider getting alarms that you can test with a flashlight or a television remote.
  • For added safety, interconnect all the smoke alarms so that when one sounds they all sound. This gives everyone more time to escape.
  • Smoke alarms with non-replaceable (long-life) batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. They can be helpful for people who have difficulty changing batteries.

Escape planning

Include everyone in planning and practicing home fire drills. People with disabilities can provide input on the best methods for them to escape.

Understand your fire risk

  • Having a stroke doesn't mean you can't keep you and your family safe from fire.
  • Build your home safety plan around your abilities.

Install and Maintain Smoke Alarms

  • Smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or flashing light are available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Smoke alarms with a strobe light outside the home to catch the attention of neighbors, and emergency call systems for summoning help, are also available.
  • Ask the manager of your building, or a friend or relative, to install at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home.
  • Test smoke alarm batteries every month and change them at least once a year. If you can't reach the test button on your smoke alarm, ask someone to test it for you.

Live Near an Exit

  • Although you have the legal right to live where you choose, you'll be safest on the ground floor if you live in an apartment building.
  • If you live in a multistory home, arrange to sleep on the first floor.
  • Being on the ground floor and near an exit will make your escape easier.

Plan Your Escape

  • Plan your escape around your capabilities.
  • Know at least two exits from every room.
  • If you use a walker or wheelchair, check all exits to be sure you can get through the doorways.
  • Make any necessary changes, such as installing exit ramps and widening doorways, to make an emergency escape easier.

Don't isolate yourself

  • Speak to your family members, building manager or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it with them.
  • Contact your local fire department's nonemergency line and explain your needs. They can suggest escape plan ideas and may perform a home fire safety inspection if you ask.
  • Ask emergency providers to keep your needs information on file.
  • Keep a phone near your bed and be ready to call 911 or your local emergency number if a fire occurs.

Falls-Efficacy Test

Do you have a fear of falling? Click on the link below to take the test. If you have a score of greater than 70, reach out to your doctor or other medical professional for guidance. 

Click here to take the Falls-Efficacy Scale