You’ve probably thought about remodeling as a way to gain much needed space or to refresh a dated room, but did you ever think that a kitchen or bathroom remodeling project could actually make your home safer? Whether you have a house full of young kids, are thinking about moving mom and dad back in with you, or are planning for your own aging in place years down the road, there are many simple things you can build into your home remodeling project that will improve your family’s safety now and in the future. Here are a few of our favorites:
Light the way. Proper lighting is essential because it make tasks easier and helps prevent accidents. In the kitchen, start with a good base of general lighting and then opt for additional task lighting placed near food prep and heavily used cooking areas. An under-cabinet light or small lamp designed to stay on all night will help keep refrigerator raiders safe. Night lighting is also essential in baths; look for fixtures that have night-time settings built in, but stay away from bright glaring lights that can temporarily blind a late night visitor.
Skid free. It’s a fact of life that kitchens and baths are the most likely places where water will spill – and the sharp objects, hot surfaces and hard edges make them the worst possible place for a fall. Opt for skid-resistant flooring to minimize the chances of an accident, such as matte-finished wood or slightly textured tile in kitchen and bathroom areas.
Shocking facts. All that water mixed with electrical appliances makes both of these rooms ripe for a shocking situation. Make certain that you are hiring a qualified, professional remodeler who will follow current electrical codes and install ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets where required to minimize the risk.
Too hot to handle. Appliance selection is a critical part of making your home safe. Opt for cooktops that have controls on the front or sides so that you don’t have to reach over potentially hot burners to adjust the temperature – which is often challenging for children, the elderly or those with limited mobility. Cooktops with staggered burners or a single row of burners also reduce the chance of burns. Think about placement of microwaves at counter level and double ovens to ensure that chefs don’t have to reach too high with heavy, hot casserole dishes. In the bathroom, anti-scald devices installed in faucets or programmable faucets can help assure that your water temperature never exceeds safe limits.
Grab onto something. Install grab bars inside the shower and next to the toilet. Make certain these are installed by a professional and attached with solid bracing. If they aren’t secure, the weight of a falling person can easily pull them out of the wall, which can actually make injuries worse.