Home Safety Checklist For Older Adults

Printable Version (PDF format 5 pages)

Household accidents and crime constitute two of the greatest threats to the lives, safety and independence of older persons.  A fall, a fire or a burglary can easily result in permanent injury, a move to a nursing home, or even in death.

Please use this checklist to inspect your home for hazards and potential problems.  After you complete your inspection, write down all problem areas you’ve checked - and the corrective action to be taken.

If you would like to have an occupational therapist perform a home safety evaluation and make specific recommendations about assistive devices mentioned in this checklist, please speak with your physician.

For information on home repairs and safety modifications, call your state or regional Office on Aging, or the League of Human Dignity Office nearest you:

Omaha, NE: 402-595-1410   Council Bluffs, IA: 712-323-6811
Lincoln, NE: 402-441-7871   North Platte, NE: 308-532-4911
Norfolk, NE: 402-371-4475   Scottsbluff, NE: 308-632-0470
Kearney, NE: 308-224-3665

Inspect all lamps and light fixtures:
Yes No

___ ___

Is lighting adequate and equally distributed throughout the home? Several light sources with lower-wattage light bulbs are better than one higher-wattage light that may cause glare.
___ ___ Are light bulbs the appropriate wattage for lamps? (Each lamp should have a sticker stating the maximum safe wattage.)
___ ___ Are light switches located so that any dark space can be illuminated before entry? Light switches should be located at both the top and bottom of a stairway.
___ ___ Are night lights used in the bathroom, bedroom and in the hallway connecting the two?

___ ___

Are working flashlights kept by the bed and on all levels of the home in case of a power failure?

Inspect all electrical cords and outlets:
Yes No
___ ___ Are any outlets overloaded?
___ ___ Are outlets easy to reach? If not, perhaps they could be moved higher on the wall, or furniture could be re-arranged to avoid blocking them.
___ ___ Do any cords have frayed ends or cracked surfaces?

___ ___

Are long cords gathered, tied back and kept off of walking areas?

Inspect all pieces of furniture:
Yes No
___ ___ Is furniture arranged for a good traffic pattern?
___ ___ Are all pieces of furniture sturdy and not easily tipped?
___ ___ Are chairs easy to get in/out of? Avoid deep, soft chairs and those without arms. Consider a "lift chair" for a person with mobility problems.

___ ___

Are chair arm rests sturdy and easy to grasp for support?

Inspect appliances:
Yes No
___ ___ Do irons and other appliances have automatic shut off features to prevent overheating if mistakenly left on?
___ ___ Can heating pads and electric blankets be connected to light-timers to prevent overheating and to avoid burns from prolonged exposure?
___ ___ Are the washer and dryer located in the kitchen or a utility room on the main floor to avoid trips up and down basement stairs? (Small, apartment-sized "piggy-back" units often fit well on a main level.)
___ ___ Are telephones located on each level of the home (including the basement and bedroom) to avoid falls while rushing up or down steps to answer the phone?
___ ___ Do portable space heaters have screens to prevent contact with external objects? Space heaters should always be kept away from flammable objects.
___ ___ Do all fireplaces have spark-screens?
___ ___ Are smoke detectors/carbon monoxide detectors located on each level of the home, including the basement and near the bedroom?
___ ___ Are smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries checked at six-month intervals and changed annually? A simple rule of thumb is to routinely check detectors and replace batteries in April and October when clocks are adjusted forward/backward.

___ ___

Have the heating and cooling systems been inspected and serviced within the past year? The technician  can also test carbon monoxide detectors to insure they are still functioning.

___ ___ Is the water heater thermostat set no higher than 125 degrees to prevent scalding?
Inspect all floor surfaces:
Yes No
___ ___ Are rooms filled with too much furniture to allow safe walking? Can furniture be removed or re-arranged?
___ ___ Are items (boxes, books, etc.) piled inappropriately on floors, presenting a risk for falls?
___ ___ Are any floor tiles loose, broken, or missing?
___ ___ Are all linoleum surfaces secured to the floor?
___ ___ Are all area and throw rugs secured to the floor with rubber backing or double-faced adhesive tape? (We strongly discourage throw rugs!)

___ ___

Is carpeting too thick or plush to walk on safely?
For visually impaired persons:
Yes No
___ ___ Do carpets have contrasting colors from one room to another (particularly where one must step up or down)?

___ ___

Have all raised ridges in doorways been eliminated or marked with color contrast tape for better visibility?
Inspect all stairways:
Yes No
___ ___ Are stairways well lighted? Light switches should be located at both the top and bottom of each staircase.
___ ___ Are any steps cracked, loose or sagging?
___ ___ Are banister rails easy to grasp, sturdy, and well anchored?
___ ___ Do banisters extend slightly beyond the top and bottom steps?
___ ___ Are stairways cluttered with books or other objects?

___ ___

Are stairways carpeted, or do they have non-skid vinyl/rubber
reads in contrasting colors to increase visibility: A strip of fluorescent tape placed on the top and bottom steps is helpful.
Inspect the bathroom (s):

Yes No

___ ___ Would a raised toilet seat make it easier for the person to get down on and up from the commode?
___ ___ Are grab rails installed by the toilet and tub to provide assistance and prevent falls?
___ ___ Are non-skid strips or a mat used both inside and just outside the tub?
Only use mats with a non-skid or rubber backing.
___ ___ Can a shower chair and a hand-held shower wand be used to make showering easier?
___ ___ Should a urinal or commode be considered for use in the bedroom when otherwise you would need help getting to and from the bathroom?
Inspect the Kitchen:
Yes No
___ ___ Do deep or floor- level cabinets have slide-out shelves or storage baskets? Try to store frequently used items in easy-to-reach places. Use only a sturdy, wide-based step-stool to reach high shelves.
___ ___ Do you avoid wearing garments with loose-fitting sleeves while working around stove burners? If not, be sure to roll up or fasten sleeves with a rubber band.
___ ___ Do you use a cart with wheels to move heavy or bulky objects in and around the kitchen?
___ ___ Do you use an apron with pockets to hold/carry small objects?
___ ___ Is the kitchen arranged so that food preparation and cleanup can be done from a chair if prolonged standing is a problem?

___ ___

Are all poisonous and flammable substances stored away from food products and the stove? (We recommend poisons and flammables not be stored in the kitchen at all!)

Inspect all doors:
Yes No
___ ___ Can any unnecessary interior doors be removed?
___ ___ Are door knobs easy to grasp for arthritic hands? (Consider replacing round knobs with lever handles.)
___ ___ Can raised door sills be eliminated?
___ ___ Can bathroom door be installed to open outward? (In the event of a fall in the bathroom this will permit an easier rescue.)

___ ___

Does the garage door have an automatic opener?
Inspect the home's exterior
Yes No
___ ___
Are concrete and brick surfaces free from large cracks and uneven surfaces? Textured concrete surfaces lessen the risk of falls.
___ ___ Are all wooden surfaces stable and free from cracks, sagging, and exposed nail heads?
___ ___ Are all banister rails easy to grasp, sturdy, and well anchored?
___ ___ Do banister rails extend slightly beyond the top and bottom steps?
___ ___

Are gutter down spouts extended away from walks and driveway to avoid ice patches?

 
Inspect for the following security measures:
Yes No

___ ___



Do all exterior doors have dead-bolt locks? Double Cylinder dead bolts (which must be opened with a key from both sides) should be installed on exterior doors with windows. Dead-bolt locks should also be placed on doors leading from the garage or basement into the house.

___ ___

Do all screen doors lock from the inside?

___ ___

Are basement/garage windows secured with “burglar-bars”?

___ ___

Do all first-floor windows have devices to prevent them from being raised high enough from the outside to permit entry?

___ ___

Is a board kept lying across the inside bottom tract of sliding glass doors and windows to prevent entry from outside?

___ ___

Are “dusk-to-dawn” or “motion detector” lights installed on the exterior?

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