Lately while reading postings on the RheumatoidArthritis.net web site and their Facebook pages I had a thought of concern. I read some stories of how many people, because of the effects of RA, and other diseases, have on their bodies and lifestyle, they have found themselves unhappily battling mobility issues. I read how some now have troubles maneuvering just the few steps it takes to get through the front door to others who dread having to scale the flight of stairs.
The people with what seems to be the most common issue, in my opinion, are those who find troubles early or first thing in the morning getting up and going. By this I mean that after waking up, the act of jumping out of bed and dancing downstairs for coffee and the morning paper is not on the top of the can-do list. Now this is where my concern comes into play.
With those suffering the pain and stiffness, not being able to move in a hurry could be trouble if the smoke alarm suddenly sounds. God lord, what are these people going to do? To be honest, I do not have any answers. I hope that I do not have to read or hear about it ever happening.
The only thing that I can suggest is to be prepared as best as we can be.
So, with that being said, I decided to do a little research and come up with a short list of helpful hints that, hopefully will make us stop for a moment and think about home safety.
With a little snooping on the World Wide Web and the exchange of information through Facebook with my local fire station I have put together a short list of things to consider.
The first item is the most often noted safety rule I found is this, working smoke detectors. Now this will not help a person with mobility issues move any faster, but it can still alert others in the house earlier to a fire, and to be able to assist others who need help. The same rule applies to having a working carbon monoxide detector.
Do not be afraid to call 911 in a possible medical emergency. – (Or at least call a nurse direct line from your clinic if you are not sure it is an emergency) This can be a hard thing to judge as no one wants to be sick or injured and going to see a doctor can just be the bearer of bad news. I feel we much too often have a wait and see attitude about going to the doctor. The best that can be said is that nobody knows us like ourselves, so if something has changed with your current situation such as nausea/vomiting, stomach pain, increased temp, chest pain, breathing problems, or any other new symptom, that could be a time to call.
If at all possible, it is also a good idea to use one of the many great services where if you need help, you can just press the panic button on a necklace fob or a wrist band. You know, just in case you have fallen and can’t get up, service. (Life Alert)
Keep emergency phone numbers handy. – Always keep a list of emergency numbers by each phone. Write this information in large enough print that you can read it easily if you are in a hurry or frightened.
Be sure to list numbers for:
- Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222
- Family member or friend to call in case of emergency
- Healthcare provider’s office
Help emergency responders find your home. – Every second counts when responding to an emergency call so it is critical that house numbers are visible. Numbers should be located near the front door, above eye level and within a well-lit area.
While spelled out or fancy numbers may look nice, they’re harder to read from the street. Stick with basic Arabic numerals, at least four inches high. Make sure the numbers contrast the paint color of the house.
Get a File of Life card for your home. – A File of Life card is a form you fill out with your medical information; doctor and family contact information and place it where first responders will find it, like on the front of your refrigerator. For more information, here is the website.
Do you have a medical alert bracelet? – If you are somewhat mobile and get out and about often and frequently rely on public transportation to get around, and if you have a medical emergency, would the first responders know about any medical issues you have? I do hope that this does not happen, but we all know that it can so please be careful. So, I feel it is a good idea to have some sort of emergency information that can be easily accessed by first responders in the chance that you are unable to communicate clearly. I wear an identification bracelet whenever I leave the house as I enjoy running, and if something happens, they will know who to notify in my life. It is not the old-style bracelet with the big think chain and large red medical logo, but a modern style, sporty kind. It has my family contact information on it but you can get it with just about anything you want. You can even have vital medical information saved to the service so EMT’s can call and get you started with the proper treatment. (Road-ID)
Next is to make your home more access friendly. – Make sure all hallways, stairs, are well lit and clear of objects like shoes, pet toys, Amazon boxes, sewing baskets and other important family treasures. Use rails and banisters when going up and down the stairs. Never place those colorful through rugs at the bottom or top of stairs. Tape all area rugs to the floor so they do not move when you walk on them. Keep your most often used pans on a countertop rack or just leave them out on top of the stove instead of putting them in a big drawer or cupboard. Store plates, bowls, cups, and other frequently used items in a single, easily accessible drawer or shelf. Try to save the high shelves for things you don’t need often.
Now I know that these are just a short list and that there are many more to note. So please feel free to add any other things that you feel to be helpful that others would benefit from.