Whether you are a master chef or a microwave connoisseur, it’s likely that the kitchen is one of your household’s central hubs. With the kitchen getting so much use, it is not surprising that fires and falls are frequent mishaps. In fact, home fires kill seniors at twice the rate of society as a whole.1 While we have already covered some helpful tips on this subject, we thought it would be a good idea to provide a more comprehensive look at how you can modify your kitchen to make Aging in Place easier and more comfortable.
What to Do With Power Cords and Socket Covers
- Reduce the amount of cords in your kitchen to as few as possible. Make sure those remaining are not in any pathways. Not only will this save you energy, but it will also remove a number of tripping hazards. In addition to removing these cords, getting rid of certain appliances, like blenders and toasters, could lower the risk of an accident.
- Make sure that your appliances are easy to unplug and not near your sink. You put yourself at risk of injury if you constantly need to bend over to unplug something.
- Put socket covers on your wall outlets to diminish your risk of shock. This is extremely important in your kitchen, as a lot of liquid flows here.
Have Safe, Convenient Light Switches & Outlets
- Have your light switch by your doorway. How many times have you walked through your kitchen in the dark looking for your light switch? It doesn’t matter if you have done it a thousand times, one open cabinet door or a chair out of place could be a dangerous tripping hazard. With a switch near your doorway, you can light your kitchen as soon as you enter.
- If you are having trouble seeing your light switch, then place brightly colored tape on it to make it more visible.
- Install motion sensor lights. Motion sensor lights trigger automatically when they detect the least bit of movement. This means that you would never have to navigate your kitchen in darkness.
- Ensure your outlets are GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupters). GFCI-protected outlets reduce the risk of electrocutions. A GFCI monitors the current flowing through a circuit. If the current differs by even a slight amount, then the GFCI outlet will shut off power immediately. Your kitchen may already be equipped with GFCI outlets, as they have been part of the National Electrical Code since 1987.
Don’t Hurt Yourself Trying to Open Your Cabinets
- Install pull-out and pull-down shelves. Pull-out shelves make it easier to access items at lower levels, as you just have to pull the shelf out instead of crouching to find something. If you have osteoporosis, hip or back problems, then bending over could be difficult and dangerous. Consider getting a pull-out shelf if you have this condition. Pull-down shelves allow you to bring a shelf to your level, meaning you won’t need a hazardous stepstool. Furthermore, food that is hard to reach often does not get used, causing it to expire. Not only does the food go to waste, but eating it can lead to illness.
- Install “D” shaped handles to make it easier to open cabinets. This is especially helpful for somebody with arthritis.
Make Your Sink Easy to Use
- Place the faucets and sprayer on the side of your sink to make them easier to reach. Consider getting lever handles that are easier to use.
- Use anti-scald devices on your sink to prevent burns.
Find the Right Dishwasher
- Raise the height of your dishwasher so that it is easier to load and unload. Like with low shelves, it might not be feasible to bend over to empty your dishwasher on a regular basis. Lifting your dishwasher to a more manageable level could make this routine activity much more comfortable.
Use a Chair to Preserve Stamina
- Use a chair to sit at your countertop or at your stove so that you won’t tire as easily. While you stand at your countertop chopping vegetables, you might feel yourself getting a bit fatigued. As you age, you tire more easily and tend to have less energy than younger people, meaning it can be harder to stand for long intervals.2 Always remember to return your chair to a familiar, out-of-the-way area so that it does not pose a tripping hazard.
Make Your Stove Safe
- Make sure your stove has an automatic gas stove shut-off feature in case your pilot light goes out. This device automatically detects unattended cooking by monitoring the user’s movement in the kitchen, preventing stove top fires and dangerous gas emissions. You don’t want to fill your house with gas.
- Ensure that your knobs are permanent and not removable, as it is easy for these knobs to be misplaced.
- Never leave your stove unattended. Fire spreads quickly, and it can take seconds for your entire kitchen to be engulfed.
- Throw away any frayed and tattered oven mitts. These can lead to burns when removing an object from your stove.
Cut Down On Fire Hazards
- Designate an area of your kitchen away from your stove or oven where you can place potential fire hazards. Keeping items like paper towels, dish rags, potholders and oven mitts near an open flame could cause a disaster. Most home fires begin in the kitchen,3 so moving these objects away from a flame is a great step to protect yourself.
- Keep a working fire extinguisher within easy reach and make sure your fire alarms are functional.
We hope that these tips help you think about how to make your kitchen safer. If you have any suggestions of your own, please let us know in the comment section.