HOME DECORATING SAFETY
December 4th, 2017
While the holiday season should be a time for celebration, it should also be a time when family caregivers take extra precautions to ensure their loved ones’ health and safety. By keeping on the lookout for potential dangers or fall hazards, seniors can still participate in “decking the halls” (and even the outdoors) – which means your season of comfort and joy can stay that way.
Emergency rooms may be used to holiday decoration-related injuries this time of year, but wouldn’t Christmas time be a terrible time for your loved one to end up hospitalized? Read over the following safety tips and you’ll have a better chance of having a trouble-free holiday for all.
Every year, hundreds of people fall from ladders while hanging decorations. If your aging parent still insists upon stringing lights from their roof, you can keep them safe by helping them to:
- Choose the right ladder for the job – or, in other words, one that extends at least 3 feet over the roofline.
- Place the ladder on firm ground, and use leg levelers under the ladder to compensate for uneven or soft ground.
- Check the ladder’s maximum load rating.
- Make sure the ladder has slip-resistant feet.
- Always have a helper hold the bottom of the ladder.
- Remember to never use a metal ladder near power lines or electrical equipment (wood or fiberglass ladders are better).
PICKING UP HEAVY BOXES
Those boxes of ornaments may not look heavy, but to an aging back they may be more burdensome – and dangerous – than you think. If you can’t be by your loved one’s side to help, make sure they’re following these safety guidelines for moving big boxes:
- Use your legs, not your back. Bending at the knees instead of the waist is critical for both young and old.
- Use a firm grip. Hand position and dry palms are the best ways to ensure boxes aren’t accidentally dropped.
- Never lift over your head – or it may wind up on your head. If necessary, use a step stool or small ladder.
- Inspect the weight of the box before actually picking it up. That way your body won’t be fooled into thinking the load is lighter than it actually is.
STAYING WARM OUTSIDE
It doesn’t matter if you’re stringing multiple strands of lights, or merely putting a wreath on the door – when the temperature drops below freezing outside (and moreover, when the cold winds whip up!) it doesn’t take long for a senior to catch a chill or, worse yet, suffer from hypothermia. So help your loved one stay warm and healthy by reminding them to:
- Wear layers. Start with a layer made of a fabric that wicks away moisture, followed by outer layers of wool, flannel or thick sweatshirt material. (Remember, layers indoors are a good thing, too!)
- Bundle up. Of course, when venturing outdoors, always wear a coat or jacket. But almost as (or even more) important are warm, dry socks and gloves – and don’t skimp on that hat!
- Eat well and exercise. It may seem like a no-brainer, but seniors (especially those who live alone) tend to either not feel like cooking, or opt for less nutritious options during the winter months. Staying well-fed and active can help maintain proper circulation; and yes, warmth!
OTHER DECORATING SAFETY TIPS
Because not every hazard is an obvious one, here are a few additional things to keep in mind during decorating season:
- Avoid decorations made of easily combustible materials (like tissue paper and flammable cottons), or at least make sure they’re not used close to bare electrical wires, fireplaces, or candles.
- Artificial trees are less of a fire hazard than real ones – but if you still prefer the latter, make sure the tree is fresh and not losing a significant number of needles, and place the tree away from vents, radiators and fireplaces.
- When decorating outdoors, make sure extension cords are tucked safely away near the base of the home, and that they never cross walkways.
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