Company’s Coming: Preventing Injuries During the Season of Visitors

iStock_000029382656FamilyGatheringSmallThe winter holidays bring together family and friends. Suddenly the size of your household can skyrocket, whether for a few hours or for a few days. Young children, and older adults, may now be part of your household. The company brings warmth, laughter and special memories. It can also introduce hazards you haven’t considered during the year. Take a look at your home through the eyes of your visitors:

  • Do you have adequate lighting at the top and bottom of stairs, and sturdy handrails on all stairs? This is something you need year-round, but becomes even more important when you have visitors who are less familiar with your home, especially older relatives who may have vision or mobility challenges.
  • What’s on your floors now? Children’s toys, visitors’ shoes, the food dishes of visiting pets—all of these can become tripping hazards. Keep pathways clear.
  • Speaking of pets, do your holiday decorations include plants that are poisonous? Most people believe poinsettias are the most dangerous to pets. But according to veterinarians, poinsettias can cause illness but are unlikely to be fatal. Much more dangerous are bulb plants like amaryllis and lilies. Holly and mistletoe are also considered moderately to highly toxic to pets. Learn more about the signs of pet poisoning here.
  • What’s on the guest room nightstand? Visitors who are accustomed to leaving their medications in easy reach may need to be gently reminded to keep them out of sight and reach when there are young children around. That could include grandma’s purse if it contains medications.
  • If the smoke alarm goes off tonight, would everyone be able to get out? Tell overnight guests about your family’s fire escape plan, including your meeting place, and show them how to open deadbolts or security bars. Guests with mobility challenges may need sleeping areas on the ground floor (Learn more about planning and practicing your home escape at homefiredrill.org)

Learn more about reducing hazards of all kinds at http://prevention1st.org/safety-resources/