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nurse and elderly man sitting

Basic Home Safety Tips

These home safety instructions are provided to assist you in identifying safety hazards in your home. You are responsible for correcting any safety hazards identified.


  1. Walkways
    • Remove throw rugs whenever possible to avoid tripping.
    • If you can’t remove throw rugs, use rugs with a non-skid backing to avoid slipping.
    • Repair or replace torn carpeting to avoid tripping.
    • Make the transition between types of flooring (such as wood to carpeted floor) as even as possible and secure to prevent tripping.
    • Avoid waxing wood or linoleum floors to prevent slipping.
  2. Stairs
    • Rise between steps should ideally be no more than 5 inches.
    • Make sure handrails are well anchored (or install handrails) on both sides of the stairway.
    • Non-skid treads can be placed on wooden stairs to prevent slipping.
    • Make sure the carpeting on the stairs is secured.
  3. Furniture Layout
    • Arrange furniture so that pathways are not cluttered.
    • Chairs and tables need to be sturdy and stable enough to support a person leaning on them.
    • Avoid furniture with sharp edges and corners. If the furniture does have edges or corners, pad them.
    • Chairs with armrests and high backs provide more support when sitting and more leverage when getting in and out of the chair.
  4. Lighting
    • Be sure that your lighting is ample to prevent falls and to ensure that you can read medication labels and instructions easily.
    • Light switches should be immediately accessible upon entering the room.
    • Good lighting in hallways, stairs, and bathrooms is especially important.
  5. Medicines
    • Keep medicines out of reach of children. If you keep your medicines out, be sure to put them away when grandchildren or other small children visit.
  6. Sliding Glass Doors
    • Mark sliding glass doors with stickers to prevent someone from bumping into the glass door.


  1. Bathtub
    • Install skid-resistant stips or rubber mats.
    • Use a bath seat if it is difficult to stand during a shower or too difficult to get up out of the tub.
    • Install grab bars on the side of the tub or shower for balance.
    • Do not use the soap dish or towel bars for balance as these can pull out of the wall very easily.
  2. Toilet
    • Use an elevated seat or commode if you need support getting on and off the toilet or if you are not able to bend your hip normally after surgery.
    • Install grab bars around the toilet if you need more leverage to get off the toilet.
  3. Doors
    • Avoid locking bathroom doors or use only locks that can be opened from both sides when you may need assistance in the bathroom.


  • Store frequently used items at waist level. Use a “reacher” or a “grabber” to avoid standing on a chair or footstool when items are not at eye level.
  • Mark the ON and OFF positions clearly on the dials on the stove.
  • Use the front burners of the stove to avoid reaching over burners (unless there are small children in the home in this case, the back burners are recommended).
  • Make sure pan/pot handles are not over the other burners and not over the edge of the stove.
  • Slide heavy pans across the stove instead of trying to lift them.
  • Keep baking soda near the stove to extinguish small cooking fires and keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen if possible.
  • Make sure the sleeves of your clothing are not loose or dangling while cooking — they could easily catch fire.
  • Tables with four legs are more stable than pedestal-type tables.



  • Keep a 1-2 week supply of food/water on hand and consider any special dietary needs or formulas you may use.
  • Store a 1-2 week supply of medication and/or supplies you will need (insulin, syringes, dressings).
  • Know the procedure to follow if you are using medical equipment that runs on electricity and there is a power failure (ventilators, IV pumps, feeding pumps).
  • Block or lock wheels of items such as hospital beds, wheelchairs, commodes, and refrigerators.
  • Persons who live alone should appoint an official buddy (neighbor, family, friend) who will check on them after an earthquake.
  • Anchor tall furniture to the wall and remove heavy items from the top shelves.


  • If inside, stay inside and take cover under a heavy desk, table, or doorway away from windows or objects that may fall.
  • Drag a bed-bound patient (or transfer them to a wheelchair) in order to move them to a safe area.
  • Lock the wheels on the wheelchair after moving to a safe area.
  • If outside, stand away from trees, electrical lines, and buildings.


  • Home infusion patients should go to the nearest emergency room if you run out of medications, solutions, or supplies and are unable to contact Green Pine Home Health. Green Pine Home Health will attempt to contact patients as soon as possible after an earthquake.
  • If necessary, use an Ambu Bag for a ventilator-dependent patient until you can connect to a backup system.
  • Turn off the gas at the meter if you smell gas or hear gas appliances hissing. Do NOT light any matches if a gas leak is suspected.
  • Assess for injuries and be prepared to administer First Aid.
  • Turn on a portable radio to listen for information from Public Safety Agencies.

Disposal Tips for Medical Sharps and Medications

You can help prevent injury and pollution by safely disposing of household sharps (hypodermic needles, pen needles, intravenous needles, lancets, and other devices that are used to penetrate the skin). Improper management of discarded needles and other sharps can pose a health risk to the public and waste workers. For example, discarded needles may expose waste workers to potential needle stick injuries and potential infection when containers break open inside garbage trucks or needles are mistakenly sent to recycling facilities. Janitors and housekeepers also risk injury if loose sharps poke through plastic garbage bags. Used needles can transmit serious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis. You must place your sharps in a proper container. They can be purchased from your local pharmacies. You can also pick one up for free at county-designated distribution sites: http://ladpw.org/epd/hhw/sharps/sites.cfm. Another alternative is to place your sharps waste in a container that does not leak, break, or puncture. It must be taped, sealed, and labeled “SHARPS”. Containers with shares are NOT recyclable. Make sure that you keep all containers with sharp objects out of reach of children and pets.
  • Supervised Collection Sites
  • Los Angeles County operated a weekly Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) Collection Event. They are scheduled in various areas of the county. For more information and to locate a collection event near you, please call (888) CLEAN LA or visit www.CleanLA.com. Outside of Los Angeles County, the collection site is available at: http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/HomeHazWaste/HealthCare/Collection/.
  • Mail-back Programs
  • There are programs that allow sharp users to place their used sharps in special containers and return the container by mail to a collection site for proper disposal. This service usually requires a fee. Fees vary, depending on the size of the container. Check with your pharmacist, Yellow Pages, or search the Internet using the keywords “sharps mail back”.
  • Syringe Exchange Programs (SEP)
Sharp users can safely exchange used needles for new needles. Contact the North American Syringe Exchange Network at (253) 274-4857 or online at www.nasesn.org. It is also recommended that soiled bandages, wound dressings, and used medical gloves be securely fastened in trash bags before you put them in the garbage can with your other trash.

Do not flush unused, unwanted, and expired medications down the toilet or up them in drains!

Department of Mental Health’s Emergency & Non-Emergency Helpline! (24 hours/7 days) “ACCESS” 1-800-854-7771