Avoiding accidents in the home
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Getting emergency help
If you have burnt or scalded yourself, are choking, or have made a mistake with your medication, you should seek medical advice immediately.
You can call 999 if it is a medical emergency, or 111 for fast medical advice in cases where it is not an emergency.
There are many safety hazards in the home which can lead to accidents. This is particularly a problem as you get older, more forgetful or less able to move, or if you have a problem with your health or a learning disability.
Burns and scalds are a particular problem for older adults and those with ill health. Contact burns to people over 65 can be fatal.
To avoid burns and scalds try to limit the distance you need to carry hot things as much as possible. You can rearrange your kitchen to make this easier.
Always use rear hotplates on the hob and turn saucepan handles away from the front of the cooker.
When running a bath, run the cold water first so that if you slip or fall, you aren't likely to scald yourself on the hot water.
There may be specialist equipment available which will help you to reduce the risk of burning or scalding yourself - go to our Equipment to help at home section for more details.
And if you are experiencing problems with your sight you may benefit from an assessment from a specially trained visual impairment worker.
As you get older, you might find it harder to chew food. This can be a serious choking hazard.
Before you eat, chop your food into small pieces and if you wear dentures, make sure these are secure before you start eating.
When you eat, make sure you chew your food very thoroughly and avoid talking or laughing while you're eating. You should also take special care with food that might still have bones in, like fish.
If you are experiencing difficulties with swallowing (perhaps following a stroke) you may benefit from some support from a Speech and Language Therapist - go to our Regaining your independence section for advice on how to request this support.
And you may also find some useful information in our Caring for your teeth section.
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas which can be emitted from gas heating appliances. Its effects can be fatal. You should take care with heating appliances and make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector. For more information, visit our page on environmental health.
The Gas Safe Register provide tips on all aspects of gas safety at home, and a searchable directory of gas engineers in your area who can carry out emergency work on gas leaks.
Cadent (your gas network operator) can install a lockable safety device (locking cooker valve) to the pipework of a gas cooker or hob - this service is free of charge - to allow a person living in a vulnerable situation to retain their independence, and to provide reassurance to family, friends and carers.
A common cause of accidental poisoning is taking too much of your medication, or taking the wrong kind of medication by mistake.
Before taking any medication, make sure it is the right one and check the label and instructions for how and when to take it as well as the use-by date.
If you are on regular medication, you should always ask your pharmacist or doctor about whether you can take another medication as some medications will interact with each other and cause you problems.
Make sure you get rid of old unwanted medications in your home to avoid you or someone else mistakenly taking it. You must dispose of these properly by taking them to your local pharmacy, who will get rid of them for you.
For more information, visit our page on taking medication.
Hammersmith and Fulham
Green Doctor is a partnership of London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham with Groundwork London to help make your home warmer, saving you money and improving your health. Green Doctor visits provide guidance on efficient energy usage in the home, understanding heating systems and installation of small energy measures.
The Safer Homes Scheme from Creighton House offers home safety checks for people in Hammersmith and Fulham who are over the age of 65 or have a disability.
Kensington and Chelsea
Homes4Health supports residents of Kensington and Chelsea who live in homes where there are problems with cold, poor insulation or damp, dangerous electrical installations, broken steps or banisters, or other issues which could pose a risk to the health of residents.
They can offer information and advice, and in some cases may be able to access grants to help you to improve the condition of your home.
The Easy Health website has gathered various easy-to-read leaflets which gives tips on how live more safely within your home, and may be of particular use to people with learning disabilities.