Keeping your home safe in the holiday season, by Dr. Kaitrin Parris and Michael Mosley

As the saying goes, “There’s no place like home for the holidays.”

Alacare Home Health and Hospice Nursing Skills Suite, School of
The AlaCare Home Health and Hospice Nursing Skills Suite in the new UAB School of Nursing building helps students assess home health safety and apply that knowledge in simulated a home setting.

Keeping the home the best  for the holidays, however, means keeping safety in mind.

As home health nurses, one of the highest priorities for us is assessing a client’s home environment, checking for fall risk and environmental safety. Home health nurses perform these checks as part of the admission process before taking on a new client, and follow-up at each home visit. This assessment is important, as a large number of falls and injuries occur in the home, and falls or injuries can potentially lead to hospitalization. A thorough and effective home assessment can protect patients from falls, injury, prevent unnecessary hospitalizations and keep patients right where they want to be — at home.

elderly_home_safety_webEven if you are not a home health nurse, or do not have access to one, it is important to keep your home safe around the holidays. This is a time of year when visitors abound and there are potentially more hazards around the house. As you prepare for the holidays, keep these safety tips in mind and make your home hazard-free.

  • Remove non-slip throw rugs, as they are a trip hazard
  • Keep electrical cords out of walkways
  • Check all electrical cords and holiday lights for frayed wires and shorts
  • Unplug all decorative lights before leaving the home
  • Never leave unattended food cooking on the stove or oven
  • Ensure your fire alarms are working properly on each level of the home
  • Have a fire extinguisher available and be familiar with how to work it
  • Never leave a candle unattended while burning
  • Place all gifts and packages out of the walking path
  • Do not hang stockings near a heat source
  • Keep live trees well-watered to prevent them from drying out
  • Never eat food that has been out of refrigeration for longer than 2 hours
  • Ensure your food is cooked to the correct temperature
  • If frying food, make sure the grease is at the correct temperature and that the level is not too high in the pot
  • Have a first aid kit available
  • Wash your hands frequently to prevent spreading of colds, flu or foodborne illnesses

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