Winter-proofing your home is worth it

You can do simple things around the interior of your home to lower your risk of falls. First, do basic decluttering as noted in our previous column on this topic. Then, move on to specific room-by-room issues, as suggested by the National Institute on Aging. First, your floors, stairs, and hallways:

Ensure there are handrails on both sides of any stairs, and make sure they are secure. Hold the handrails when you use stairs, even when you are carrying something. Don’t let anything you’re carrying block your view of the steps. Get help if you need it

Ensure there is good lighting with light switches at the top and bottom of stairs and on each end of a long hall. Consider using motion-activated lights that plug into electrical outlets and automatically turn on when you walk by them to help illuminate stairwells and pathways.

Keep areas where you walk tidy. Don’t leave books, papers, clothes, or shoes on the floor or stairs.

Check that all carpets are fixed firmly to the floor, so they won’t slip. Put no-slip strips, which you can buy at any hardware store, on tile and wooden floors. Don’t use throw rugs or small area rugs. Don’t walk on slippery, newly washed floors.

Next, the bathroom:

Mount grab bars near toilets and on both the inside and outside of your tub and shower.  Place nonskid mats, strips, or carpet on all surfaces that may get wet. Remember to leave a light on in the bathroom at night or use a night light that turns on automatically in the dark.

In your bedroom: Put night lights and light switches close to your bed when possible.  Keep a flashlight by your bed in case the power goes out and you need to get up. Place a landline or well-charged phone near your bed.

In the kitchen:

Keep frequently used pots, pans, and kitchen utensils in a place where they are easy to reach. Clean up spills immediately, especially if oily or greasy. Prepare food while seated, when possible, to prevent fatigue or loss of balance.

And when you venture outside your home: If you have steps leading to your front door, make sure they are not broken or uneven. Add non-slip material to outdoor stairways. Keep the lawn, deck, or porch areas clear of debris, such as fallen branches. Consider installing a grab bar near the front door to provide balance while you are locking or unlocking the door. Turn on your porch light if you plan on leaving home before dawn, or returning home after dark. In the winter, treat outdoor walkways with an ice melt product or sand to make them less slippery. Have some on hand before a snowstorm appears in your weather forecast.


Golden Living is prepared by the Dutchess County Office for the Aging, 114 Delafield St., Poughkeepsie, New York 12601, telephone 845-486-2555, email: website:

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