Sunday, June 25, 2017

"Safety Is A Topic That Always Bears Discussing"

No matter how often we talk about or mention anything having to do with safety in the home, there is still plenty to discuss. It's a topic that is always in front of us.

There are so many places in the home where we are vulnerable - with the kitchen and bath being the two most prominent places - yet we are supposed to feel very safe in our home environment. This is a real paradox.

The main challenges are not from intruders of things that might affect us from the outside - although these risks are not to be minimized. The real risks to our personal safety at home - and that of our clients - are found in the home itself. It's almost as if we should post our kitchen and bath, among other areas, as hard hat areas. 

If we look at just the kitchen, there are many ways in which we can be at risk of potential injury - as well as the clients whom we are attempting to help. We can never be totally safe because accidents do happen, and we expose ourselves to injury frequently - sometimes without even realizing it.

In the kitchen, we can be subjected to cuts, scratches, burns, frostbite, bruises, falls, pinching - for starters. Obviously, cuts are possible from carelessly using a knife to slice vegetables or meat while we are preparing them. We can even cut ourselves from not being careful when picking up the knife or retrieving it from the drawer.

There are various types of hard plastic packaging and storage containers that we come in contact with in the kitchen that have sharp edges that can cut or scratch us. Even stabbing ourselves with the tines of a fork (serving fork or table fork) while reaching for that end of it is a possibility (or not seeing it in dishwater). Box cutters that we use to open packages can fight back also.

Cuts can result from the way we remove the lid from a can that we have opened or by touching a sharp edge of an opened can. When we drop a drinking glass or bowl, we can get cut from the glass as it shatters on the floor or from pieces of it as we attempt to pick up the mess. Invariably there are a few remnants that we miss with the vacuum or broom that easily could find their way into our feet.

Sometimes a glass bowl or drinking glass will suffer a chip or nick at its edge or rim, and this has the potential to cut us.

Bumping into a drawer pull, an opened drawer, or the corner of a counter can bruise or cut also - this can happen with the edge of an open dishwasher, oven, or microwave door as well. At the very least, it is briefly uncomfortable. Meat thermometers have a nasty sharp point on the end that have the potential to leave a cut or scratch on our skin.

In addition, there are many innocent looking cans, jars, and boxes that when touched or handed in certain ways can scratch or cut us. Even paper cuts that we might get from opening or handling packaging, while not dangerous, can be annoying and painful.

Then we can add to this list of potential safety concerns all of the potential burns we can suffer from handling hot liquids or cooking vessels, stovetops or cooktops, coming in contact with steam, or touching or eating food that is too hot to be immediately consumed (even from tasting something as its cooking on the stove).

There's also falls from tripping or slipping on something on the floor (including a loose rug or towel that has fallen) or reaching to far while standing on a stool or small ladder and losing our balance.

There are many more challenges in the kitchen and other areas of the home - no matter how careful we are. Knowing that they are there and what some of them are is a big start in avoiding many of them.

The kitchen is the center of the home for many reasons - and historically this has been the place everyone gathers. So much happens there. We need to make sure than personal injury is not one of those events that is occurring very often so that everyone can enjoy the many activities that are supposed to happen in the kitchen.

____________

Steve HoffackerCAPS, MCSP, MIRM, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Master instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555.