The definition of home is changing. Fast-paced society transforms the once romanticized refuge into a stable crash pad or convenient fuel stop. Sci-fi technology like automation revolutionizes the home, altering fundamental interactions like cooking, watching TV, turning lights on or off and managing security, which can be done remotely.
And it is not just what is inside that counts, This is the East End, known for its landscaping. Beautification does more than just please the eye – it makes the yard safer. Clearing debris and having clean, paved walkways or defined paths can minimize accidents and infections for both humans and animals. Maintaining finishes on decks and patios can help avoid injuries, from broken bones to potentially lethal fall-related head trauma. This is especially relevant with the upcoming seasons as leaves, rain, slush and ice can not only damage property but make it more hazardous. Trees require trimming as age and weather increase the likelihood of falling branches, which can destroy roofs, windows and cars or cause direct injury.
Home is where the heart is, even if the body is elsewhere. The home should be a beacon of safety, yet many houses are filled with perils waiting to wreak havoc in people’s lives. Forget the ghosts and skeletons, it is what is outside the closet that can actually cause harm.
Stairs can pose health risks for the young and old. A gate may protect children from falls and slips but be impractical for adults who often need to reach essential rooms like the bedroom and bathroom. This is particularly relevant for those with chronic or debilitating disease. Though ramps or motorized chairs may help the severely immobile, stairs can still hinder able individuals who do not use such equipment. Stair-sensitive conditions include neurological and neuromuscular disease disturbing gait, coordination and muscle tone like Multiple Sclerosis, Myasthenia Gravis, Parkinson’s, Piriformis Syndrome and Distal Muscular Dystrophy (predilection for adults). Atherosclerosis can impede leg circulation and cause peripheral arterial disease, which often presents with intermittent claudication (pain with walking/exercising). Stairs can pose challenges for stroke patients and those with knee or inflammatory disorders like gout (which can aggregate in knees and toes, cause pain and disrupt motion). People who have difficulty balancing from optic disease like Meniere’s or had an acoustic neuroma removed, and patients with visual degeneration should also be cautious. While ranch-style homes may not be the answer for everyone, safely installed banisters and flooring, and avoiding rugs may prove helpful.
Showers and bathtubs can be particularly dangerous. Possible precautions include using a suction-cup mat inside and a towel or mat outside, installing height-appropriate handrails on walls and having low bases to ease movements into and out of units. Bathing areas may teem with mold, which can be inhaled and/or absorbed. It is important to clean regularly, check that the shower curtain is odor-free, repair faulty plumbing to avoid mildew and dirty runoff backfill, and have proper ventilation. Electronics also require safe usage and storage.
The kitchen is a high-traffic area. Keeping knives out of children’s reach and having enough vents and proper electrical circuitry can help avert common yet serious injuries. Many foods need specific preservation conditions. Setting the refrigerator and freezer to the right temperatures and making sure bags or bins are adequately sealed can help ward off an array of digestive diseases.
Carbon monoxide detectors are as important as smoke detectors. Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas that kills silently in minutes. According to a study updated in 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a leading cause of unintentional poisoning deaths in the United States…non–fire-related CO poisoning is responsible for approximately 15,000 emergency department visits and nearly 500 deaths annually.” CO binds to the heme molecule in blood more strongly than oxygen. This makes CO easier for red blood cells to pick up and harder for them to release. CO poisoning causes a range of ailments including but not limited to dizziness, headache, confusion, trouble breathing, coma and death.
Whether home is the ultimate comfort zone or an occasional hangout, it should always be safe.