“In like a lion, out like a lamb.” This old saying is said to describe the weather in March. Sometimes it surprises us and comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion. Whatever else you say about the weather in March, one thing you can say with certainty is that it is unpredictable. Kind of like life itself. No matter how hard we try to order our steps and neatly arrange all of the components of our lives, sometimes life throws us a curve ball. I spend a lot of time in Housing Matters talking about preparation and planning. But how do we plan for the unexpected things that sometimes come our way?
Let’s start by saying that it is impossible to be prepared for, or to plan for, everything that comes our way. That just isn’t reality. Having faith in Almighty God and leaning on his promises has always helped me get through life’s curve balls. I highly recommend it. In fact the name of my company, Solid Rock Enterprises, comes from the scripture in Matthew 7:25 that states, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
However, knowing that life can be unpredictable, it is wise to plan for and be prepared for as many eventualities in life as possible. It is wise to take a good look at our homes and make provisions to render them as safe and accessible as possible. In doing so, we accomplish two things. Number one, we reduce the chance of injuries by falls, burns, and other accidents. Number two, we make our homes easier to get around in during periods of temporary or permanent mobility impairments that can occur from accident, disease, or the normal aging process.
So what are the areas of our homes we should look at when we begin to plan for a safer and more accessible home? First and foremost we should consider safety. Anything that presents a fall risk should be addressed immediately. Look around your home with fresh eyes as if it were the first time you were seeing it. Are there loose throw rugs that you might trip over? Are there trailing extension cords, cords from window blinds, or clutter in walkways? Are there slippery floors, especially in wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens? Are there handholds, safety rails, or grab bars installed in critical traffic areas? Pay special attention to stairways, changes in level, and bathrooms. Is there bright, glare free lighting throughout the house? Remember that our eyesight diminishes as we age. We need better lighting than when we were younger.
Next consider accessibility. If anyone were to need to get into and around your home in a wheelchair or a walker, would they be able to? Is there at least one zero step entry into your house? Are the hallways and doorways leading to all of the critical areas on the main floor wide enough to allow passage? A net clear opening of 32” is the bare minimum. 36” wide doorways and 42” wide hallways are even better.
I started this column with an old saying. Here’s another one. ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Taking the time now to prepare for life’s curve balls can save you a lot of grief later. If you have questions or would like to arrange for a professional Safety and Accessibility Assessment, call me at (540) 384-2064. As always, thank you for reading Housing Matters.

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