Senior Safety

Advice to help ensure you are safe while getting around outdoors

Many injuries can occur around the home and are mostly due to falls.  To help reduce your chances of being injured at home it’s a matter of knowing what the potential hazards are, taking precautions and making adjustments.  Here are some safety prevention tips to help keep you safe for many years to come.

Around the Home

Inside the Home
  • If you have been lying or sitting down, get up slowly. Make sure you are steady on your feet before starting to walk.
  • Pace yourself and plan what you want to do in the coming days. Give yourself breaks and spread the “heavier tasks” out rather than attempting to do everything at once.
  • Ensure all rooms and hallways in your home are well lit. Use lights in darker rooms. Night lights / sensor lights help you to safely access the toilet during the night.
  • Remove mats and electrical cords from all walkways to reduce tripping hazards.
  • Ensure high traffic areas are clear of obstacles.
  • Watch for your pets getting under your feet.
  • Use non-skid cleaners or water to clean your floors.
  • Keep a first aid kit in the house and ensure everyone knows where it is.
  • Keep a list of emergency numbers near all your phones.
  • Avoid throw rugs and scatter mats. They’re dangerous!  If you prefer to keep them they should be secured in place to keep them from slipping.
  • Install a seat at the entrance of your home to remove or put on your shoes and boots.
  • Ensure your stairways are well lit and you have light switches at the top and bottom.
  • Ensure stairs are in good repair and free of clutter.
  • If you wear glasses, leave them on when climbing the stairs.
  • To help prevent a misstep on the stairs you could paint a contrasting colour strip on the edge of each stop.
  • Don’t rush when using the stairs.  Rushing is a major cause of falls.
Outside the Home
  • Lock all entry points to your house, garage and sheds to make it harder for burglars to break in.
  • Keep the front garden neat and tidy, to make your home look occupied whether you are there or not.
  • Keep an eye out for suspicious activity in and around your neighbours’ houses and ask them to do the same for you. Keep in touch with your neighbours regularly.
  • Install an outdoor light at all entrances.
  • Install railings and provide good traction to outdoor stairs, pathways or decks.
  • De-clutter the front steps and walkways around your house and ensure they are in good repair.
  • Ensure you can reach your mailbox safely and easily.
  • Ensure the number of your house is clearly visible from the street and well lit at night.
  • If you live in a rural area and don’t have a visible house number, make sure your name is on your mailbox and keep a clear description of directions to your home (main roads, landmarks, etc.) by each phone in your house.

Getting Out and About

  • Use supportive footwear that fits well and that has a sole that provides grip.
  • Carry a mobile phone to use in emergencies and have it programmed with quick contacts.  eg family, if you need to call urgently
  • If you are driving, consider what time of day it is and how tired you are. Think about the return journey. Will it be dark when you need to drive home?  Or will you be more tired?
  • You can borrow wheelchairs and scooters inside larger.
  • When taking public transport (buses or trams) get on at the front door and ask the driver to wait while you sit down.
  • If possible, travel with someone else who can help you if necessary.
  • Take a moment to think through what you want to do and then you can take more notice of what is going on around you.
  • Where possible, travel by vehicle or foot, with somebody else.
  • As a pedestrian, seniors may have reduced motor skills that limit their ability to walk at certain speeds, so be aware of this when crossing the street.
  • General information can be found on at Personal Safety.

Vehicle Security

  • Close the windows and lock the car every time you leave it even if you will only be away for a short time.
  • Park the car in a prominent and busy area particularly if you are returning to it after dark.
  • Remove all valuables from view in the car before you park your car and leave it.

Is it Time to Stop Driving?

  • If you are unsure of your driving ability, have a driving instructor check your driving and make suggestions on aspects that might need improving.
  • Many driving schools offer driver assessment and refresher courses. If you are concerned that you or an older person you know well, has lost the capacity to drive, encourage them to go for a medical check up.
  • While giving up a licence and the independence it provides is difficult, it can become necessary for your safety and the safety of others on the roads.
  • RACV has safety educators who give talks to groups.  If you belong to a group of people interested in improving their driving, or if you want further information, contact the RACV "Years Ahead Program".

Scams

  • If a deal seems too good to be true then it is probably a scam.
  • Don’t be rushed into making a decision when buying a product or service.  Ask a friend or family member to review a contract or other information about a product or service, prior to committing to it.
  • As soon as possible, ring 000 (triple zero) if a tradesman or sales-person raises your suspicions in the way that they “sell” their services.

Additional resources