I was talking with my daughter the other day, and I told her a story which could have gone much worse. I was cleaning my house when I found a one-inch piece of charcoal burnt into one of my couch cushions! It came from my fireplace from a piece of wood that popped from there to the couch. While all that little chunk of ember did was burn a hole in my furniture, my house could have gone up in flames! We are both thanking our stars that all I had to do was turn the couch cushion around!
As we age, though, lighting our home with a fireplace isn't the only concern we have. A lot of falls are caused by bad lighting and not being able to see where we're going. Whether it's changing your light bulbs, or changing the way and times you keep your house lit, here are a few steps to fall-proof your home with lighting:
1) Are Your Lights Bright Enough, and Do Your Walls Reflect That?
Can you see what's in front of you? With dim lights, the answer may be no. According to the Lighting Research Institute, an older retina needs lights that are 2 to 3 times brighter than those comfortable for younger people. Your walls can help increase brightness – have your walls painted and finished with bright or light colors that will reflect the light and brighten the room! The best kind of light is fluorescent lights. They not only help you see better, they help you distinguish between colors better and are environment friendly!
2) Are Your Lights Covered?
This may seem like a contradiction given the above, but the goal here is not to din the lights, but to prevent glare. Glare happens when the light reflects off too bright and shiny surfaces, causing bright spots of light that can impair your vision. Lights should be covered with light lamp shades or opaque covers and positioned away from shiny surfaces such as linoleum floors or granite countertops.
3) Are Your Floors Clean and Free of Any Trip Hazards?
As a fail-safe, make sure your floor is clear of falling hazards such as loose rugs, articles on the floor such as shoes, clothing, and short furniture. Even with proper lighting, these articles can be missed and lead to a fall. Also, consider contrasting the furniture with the walls (darker furniture) so they are easier to see.
4) Is Your Lighting Safe and Up To Date?
Going back to the fireplace, is your lighting safe? While a fireplace isn't bright enough to light your home on its own, if you have one, do you have a safety screen up that will keep hot debris from getting on to furniture? Also, consider getting a gas fireplace with an on/off switch on the wall. That way, you won't have to bend over to start it or stock it with kindling and wood for traditional fireplaces.
Another Point of Consideration
Also, if you live in an older house, it may be a good idea to make sure the wiring is up to date. Make an appointment with an electrician to see if there are any fire hazards as well as making sure your house is bright enough and up to date to prevent falls! If you live in an older house, the outlets may not be able to handle the amount of voltage your newer lighting appliances require. The only way to know, is to ask the professionals. You shouldn't have to sacrifice the lighting and safety of your house just because you have old outlets!