Making your home safer
Unfortunately your home is the place where accidents are most likely to occur. However, being aware of the risks and potential dangers can help prevent both minor accidents and emergency situations.
Below are some suggestions for making your home safer:
- Lighting – Put the highest wattage light bulbs suitable for your fittings in the kitchen and stairways so that they are brightly lit, and use long-life bulbs so that you don’t have to change them so often. It is also a good idea to have lighting outside your front door to reduce your risk of tripping or falling. See if you can get someone else to change curtains or light bulbs for you if you struggle with this.
- Preventing falls – Use non-slip mats under rugs, in the kitchen, on stair landings, and inside and next to the bath. Make carpets safer by repairing or removing any frayed edges.
- Adaptations to your home – Have handrails installed by the toilet and bath and on the stairs. Take the castors off any furniture that you use to lean on or to hold onto, and fit a letter box to collect your post to save you bending down.
- Wiring – Make sure that there are no wires or clutter on stairs or places where you walk. Having more telephone extensions around the home will stop you rushing to answer the phone. Cordless telephones are particularly useful, as you can leave the handsets in convenient places and there is no wiring to trip over.
- Fire safety – Have a smoke alarm fitted to detect the earliest stages of a fire. This could give you vital extra time to escape, which is especially important if you have trouble moving around. Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service could help you to do this.
- Don’t overload your electrical sockets – Don’t use cube adaptors to plug in items into the same socket. You should use an extension cable that is fused to protect you from fires.
- Portable heaters – Don’t leave heaters on unattended. Make sure you switch them off before going to sleep. Position them at least one metre away from anything that could catch fire. Don’t cover a heater and make sure nothing could knock it over. Check your heater regularly and if it’s damaged don’t use it.
- Gas safety – Badly fitted, poorly serviced or faulty gas appliances can put you at risk of gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning, so it is important to have them checked and serviced regularly.
- Home security – There are many ways to prevent your home being burgled such as making sure that all your locks are secure and keeping your valuables out of sight.
- Flooding and flood damage – Flooding can occur from burst sea/river banks or from groundwater. Any flood damage in the home is the responsibility of the home owner, however if you are a tenant you should still take out contents insurance as you are responsible for your own belongings in a rented home. If you believe that the damage has been caused by flooding due to negligence on part of the council or the Environment Agency you should contact the Local Government Ombudsman. Visit gov.uk for more information.
- Other useful suggestions – Spread salty sand on wet or icy steps and mop up any spills you have immediately. If you have a pet, fit them with a brightly coloured collar, so that you can see them more easily and are less likely to trip over them.
Local Help and Support
There are also a number of services and organisations that can help you to make your home a safer place:
Community Health & Social Care Direct at Newcastle City Council can help if you have difficulty looking after yourself because of illness or disability,. They can offer support and advice on what equipment and adaptations would help you to live independently and safely in your own home.
Telecare and personal alarm systems can help you to stay living independently at home for longer. They can also be referred to as personal alarm systems, careline systems, community alarms or pendant alarms.
Disability North at the Dene Centre provides information and advice on equipment for older people and people with disabilities. The display area at the Dene Centre has bedroom, kitchen and bathroom areas where you can try out different items or equipment and can receive specialist advice from an occupational therapist. An appointment can be made for individual assessments and demonstrations, and telephone advice is also given.
SafetyWorks! is an interactive safety centre serving the community of Tyne and Wear. Visitors participate in realistic situations illustrating everyday hazards and how to prevent them. SafetyWorks! is operated and managed by Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service and works in partnership with other agencies. SafetyWorks! has a dedicated Older Persons Safety Advisor and welcomes visits from older people.
Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue Service is committed to reducing the risk of fire in your home. To help them to do this, they can carry out a Home Safety Check for you. A firefighter will visit your home, where you may be at the greatest risk from fire, and will offer you simple advice on fire safety, tailored specifically to your needs. Where necessary, they can also fit free smoke detectors, and, in certain cases, can replace your conventional chip pan with a deep fat fryer.
Help with getting repairs and gardening read more about where to find reliable tradespeople, handyperson schemes and small repairs services on our article.
You may also find it useful to read our section about the Bottle in the Fridge scheme, which can give you some peace of mind in the event of you being taken ill or having an accident at home. It provides vital information for the emergency services if you are unable to communicate with them.
Other Useful Information
Care & Repair England has produced a practical self help guide to making the home safer and healthier. It explains how common housing faults can affect health. It gives helpful suggestions on how to fix them and who to turn to for information and practical help.
Last updated: August 5, 2021