You never know where or when someone might injure themselves, but it is reported that most accidents happen in the home. As we age, and mobility can become more difficult, accidents can happen more, and sometimes can result in more serious injury.
Prevention is better than cure so we look at how to make your home safer whilst also looking at some basic first aid knowledge most people would benefit from, and what should be in the first aid kit in every home to make sure injuries can be dealt with quickly and easily.
- Clear hazards
Accidents are most likely to happen where there are obvious ‘hazards’ such as in a home where there is clutter on the floor, pan handles left sticking out, or obstacles on the stairs. By making a conscious effort to spot hazards and putting them right and by keeping a tidy home where clutter has a place to be stored, the risk of accidents is minimised.
- Install safety and mobility devices
Many accidents in older people occur in the home because their house has not been adapted to take care of their mobility needs. Falls in the shower or bath, accidents in the kitchen, trips in the garden and falls on the stairs are all common for older people, and thankfully there are many devices and appliances designed to help keep older people safe. This could be as simple and easy to instll as a shower mat, or as inexpensive as grab rails in the bathroom. For those less steady on their feet, ramps in the garden are a good option. To move between floors home lifts, like those from Lifton are becoming the popular choice rather than stair lifts, which can become a hazard in themselves.
- Basic first aid
If an accident does happen it’s useful to have a basic knowledge of how to treat a range of injuries, and to know when an injury needs a professional to look at it.
Sometimes you might be dealing a minor graze or burn, at other times you may have to treat cuts, bruises and and sprained limbs after a fall. It is useful to know about this sort of first aid at all stages of life, but as you grow older it becomes perhaps more important.
There are many ‘how to’ training videos on YouTube to help you refresh your skills. Or consider buying a first aid book – but be sure to read through it rather than just rely on it in an emergency, as your ability to absorb the information will be greater when you are in a calm situation. This is a useful exercise too, as often advice on how to treat certain ailments gets changed over the years.
- Update your first aid kit
One of the most important things to being able to respond to an accident quickly is having the correct kit to hand. It is a good idea to review the contents of your home first aid kit regularly, as often products go past their use by date and you only realise when you need it. If mobility is an issue consider having a full first aid kit available on each floor of the home, so it is in easy reach. Additionally many people keep a small first aid kit in their car.
A good home first aid kit should contain:
- small, medium and large sterile gauze dressings
- assorted wash-proof plasters
- at least two sterile eye dressings
- triangular bandages
- crêpe roller bandages
- safety pins
- disposable latex-free sterile gloves
- alcohol-free cleansing wipes
- microporous tape
- thermometer (preferably forehead thermometer)
- distilled water for cleaning wounds
- ice packs (store these in the fridge or freezer)
- eye wash and eye bath
As well as keeping your first aid kit well stocked, it is good to keep a first aid manual with it, as in an emergency it can be useful to have step-by-step instructions.
- Local first aid training
There are some aspects of first aid which very hands on and are best taught face to face by a trained professional. CPR, which is emergency procedure carried out on a person who is in cardiac arrest, combining chest compressions and artificial ventilation until further help arrives to restart the heart is a very specific skill which can be taught by practicing on a resuscitation dummy. Training can also teach how to correctly carry out abdominal thrusts (Heimlich maneuver) in the event that someone is choking.
Many find that face-to-face teaching is the most effective way to learn about how to bandage properly and treat burns and scalds. Often local charities, hospitals or doctors surgeries offer local first aid training for a small fee.