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HOME & BUILDING INSPECTORS & INSPECTION METHODS
ALLERGEN TESTS for BUILDINGS
ALUMINUM WIRING HAZARDS & REPAIRS
ANIMAL ENTRY POINTS in buildings
ANIMAL or URINE ODOR SOURCE DETECTION
AFCIs ARC FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS
ALUMINUM WIRING HAZARDS
ASBESTOS IDENTIFICATION IN buildings
ATTORNEYS and EXPERT WITNESSES
BACKDRAFTING HEATING EQUIPMENT
BACTERIAL PATHOGENS in FRUIT & VEGETABLES
BOD WASTEWATER TEST
BLACK MOLD, HARMLESS COSMETIC
BLUE vs YELLOW COMBUSTION FLAMES
BRICK STRUCTURAL WALL Loose Bulged
BRICK VENEER WALL Loose, Bulged
BUILDING SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
Carbon Nanotube Materials
CAR MOLD CONTAMINATION
CARPET DUST IDENTIFICATION
CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS in WATER
Chimney Crack & Collapse Risks, Repairs
CHINESE DRYWALL HAZARDS
COMBUSTION PRODUCTS & IAQ
CIRCUIT BREAKER FAILURE
DECK FLASHING LEAKS, ROT Case Study
DEFECT CLUSTERS at HOME INSPECTIONS
DIRECTORY of BUILDING INSPECTORS
EARTHQUAKE DAMAGED FOUNDATIONS
ELECTRICAL GROUND SYSTEM INSPECTION
ELECTRIC PANEL INSPECTION
EMF ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS & EXPOSURE
ENVIRO-SCARE - PUBLIC FEAR CYCLES
ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS at BUILDINGS
FEDERAL PACIFIC FPE HAZARDS
FIBER CEMENT & FIBERBOARD ROOFING
FIBERGLASS INSULATION MOLD
FIRE CLEARANCES, SINGLE-WALL METAL FLUES
FIRE DAMAGE vs MOLD DAMAGE
FIRE PROTECTION FOR FOAM BOARD INSULATION
FIRE RATINGS for ROOF SURFACES
FIRE RETARDANT PLYWOOD
FIREPLACES & HEARTHS
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOOD DAMAGE TO FOUNDATIONS
FLOODED HEATING EQUIPMENT REPAIR
FLOODED SEPTIC SYSTEMS, REPAIR
FLOODED WATER HEATER REPAIR
FLOODS IN BUILDINGS, MOLD PREVENTION
FOUNDATION CRACKS & DAMAGE GUIDE
FRAMING DAMAGE, INSPECTION, REPAIR
GAS HEAT ODORS
GAS PIPING, VALVES, CONTROLS
GLUES ADHESIVES, EXTERIOR CONSTRUCTION
Goodman HTPV RECALL
HEAT TAPES, Heat, Insulation prevent Freeze-Up
HEATING OIL EXPOSURE HAZARDS, LIMITS
HOT WATER HEATERS
INDOOR AIR QUALITY IMPROVEMENT GUIDE
INSULATION IDENTIFICATION GUIDE
Lennox SAFETY WARNING
LIGHT, GUIDE to FORENSIC USE
LIGHTNING PROTECTION SYSTEMS
MIXING / ANTI-SCALD VALVES
MOBILE HOME INSPECTIONS
MOLD in buildings
MOLD RELATED ILLNESS GUIDE
MVOCs & MOLDY MUSTY ODORS
NOISE CONTROL for HEATING SYSTEMS
NOISES COMING FROM WATER HEATER
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS FROM HEATING SYSTEMS
OIL BURNER NOISE SMOKE ODORS
OIL BURNER SOOT & PUFFBACKS
OIL SPILL CLEANUP / PREVENTION
OIL TANK ABANDONING PROCEDURE
OIL TANK PIPING & PIPING DEFECTS
OIL TANK PRESSURE
OUTHOUSES & LATRINES
OUTHOUSE / LATRINE FIRE & EXPLOSION
OZONE for MOLD OR ODORS
PARTICLE SIZES & IAQ
Particulates & Allergens Indoors
PESTICIDE EXPOSURE HAZARDS
PET ALLERGENS / PET DANDER
PLASTIC CONTAINERS, TANKS, TYPES
PLASTIC Plexvent / Ultravent RECALL
PLASTIC ODORS-SCREENS, SIDING
PLUMBING SYSTEM ODORS
PUSHMATIC - BULLDOG PANELS
RADON HAZARD TESTS & MITIGATION
RETAINING WALL DESIGNS, TYPES, DAMAGE
SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
SEWAGE CONTAMINANTS in FRUIT / VEGETABLES
SEWAGE PATHOGENS in SEPTIC SLUDGE
SEWER GAS ODORS
SLAB CRACK EVALUATION
SPILL SWITCHES - Flue Gas Detection
SPLITS & CRACKS in STRUCTURAL WOOD BEAMS
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING EXTERIORS
STAIN DIAGNOSIS on BUILDING INTERIORS
STAIRS, RAILINGS, LANDINGS, RAMPS
TANK TYPES: WATER, OIL, EXPANSION, ALL
THERMAL TRACKING Indicates Heat Loss
UNLINED FLUE INSPECTIONS
VAPOR BARRIERS & HOUSEWRAP
VENTILATION in BUILDINGS
VISUAL PERCEPTION ERRORS
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WINDOWS & DOORS
ZINSCO / SYLVANIA HAZARDS
This article explains special home safety concerns for the elderly and for disabled people, offering suggestions for safety inspections and for obtaining financial aid to perform necessary home safety or home accessibility improvements.
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At 2AM mom decided to carry an armload of clothes downstairs to her washing machine. Wearing open-heeled slippers with smooth soles, carrying an armload of laundry with both arms full, and stepping down stairs that were poorly designed with narrow treads and thick soft nosed carpeting, she lost a slipper and fell.
Mom's injuries included three broken ribs, an elbow so severely broken that an elbow replacement was required, and multiple lacerations to her head. After lying unconscious for some undetermined time Mom crawled to a telephone and asked a neighbor for help. Major surgery, rehabilitation, round-the-clock nursing care, and a long, slow recovery were in store. (Photo above-left, modified for privacy, shows an elderly homeowner with her home health care aide after a stair fall injury).
The stairs and our long standing debate of their dangerous nature had been a recurrent debate between an independent-minded mother and son, to no avail. Obviously, being aware of their dangerous nature was not enough.
The author's neighbor, at age 85, made a wrong turn in an upstairs hallway after using the bathroom late at night. Dr. S. fell down stairs to a landing, narrowly-missing a fatal fall through a window located at the landing, and while he recovered, his injuries were so severe, both mental and physical, that he had difficulty walking and rarely left his home again until his death years later.
Falls like these are so severe that they can materially affect the length and quality of life for the elderly. Yet the hazards involved could be easily spotted by an experienced home inspector or home safety inspector.
Priority of Safety Concerns in Homes for the Elderly
While every unsafe condition at a building should be corrected as soon as possible after it is discovered (see Safety Inspections below), below we list some of the highest priority safety concerns that should be checked. This list is an OPINION based on field experience and literature review. CONTACT us to suggest changes or additions.
In a home safety article "Making Home a Safer Place, Affordably" by Lesley Alderman and appearing in the New York Times (July 2009), Alderman provided some excellent home safety inspection and home safety improvement financing suggestions that we summarize here:
Special Safety Improvement Financial Aid & Insurance Protection for the Elderly or Disabled
Safety & Emergency Monitoring Systems for the Elderly or Disabled - Aging in Place
BeClose Systems provides a definition of "Aging in Place" as follows: [Quoting]
What is Aging in place?
Monitoring Systems Support Aging-in-Place Programs for the Elderly
A wide variety of monitoring and safety notification systems for the elderly and disabled are offered to the public. And in August 2010 the New York Times reported on developing sensor and monitoring technologies that help children (or others) monitor aging parents (or others).
The Times article raised the important issue of privacy, quoting experts and suggesting that the decision for telemonitoring of anyone should be decided by the person being monitored, and should be negotiated as between co-equals. "If it’s not an agreement with the parent, it can be a very destructive thing."
For people who are comfortable being closely watched in their home, a family of sensors and telemonitoring devices, systems, and services can provide continuous and very detailed information such as indicators that the monitored person has:
Examples of elder-monitoring services listed by the Times article (and others we have found) include the following:
Watch out: the same Times article reports that even where intensive monitoring systems are installed, people rarely check in on the monitoring indicators' status more than once a day. OPINION-DF: systems that are able to detect that something is wrong and initiate an emergency notification to close-by responders may be valuable.
Readers of this article should also see the full article, Home Safety Hazards, and also see more special-topic safety inspection articles at this website such as STAIRS, RAILINGS, LANDINGS, RAMPS - INSPECTIONS, CODES and SAFETY for ELECTRICAL INSPECTORS and Septic Inspection Safety. Our page top photo shows a too-fat hand railing that cannot be safely grasped.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Questions & answers or comments about home safety hazards of particular concern to senior citizens, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.