Prevent Clothes Dryer Fires

Prevent Clothes Dryer Fires

 

Increased awareness can prevent clothes dryer fires in your home or senior community. The leading cause of home clothes dryer fires is failure to clean them. It is important for everyone to know how to keep themselves safe from fire.

 

More home clothes dryer fires occur in the fall and winter months, peaking in January.

 

 

Clothes dryer do’s

 

Installation

  • Have your clothes dryer installed by a professional.
  • Make sure the correct electrical plug and outlet are used and that the dryer is connected properly.
  • Read manufacturers’ instructions and warnings in use and care manuals that come with new dryers.

Cleaning

  • Clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry. Don’t forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can build up. In addition, clean the lint filter with a nylon brush at least every six months or more often if it becomes clogged.
  • Clean lint out of the vent pipe every three months.
  • Have your dryer cleaned regularly by a professional, especially if it is taking longer than normal for clothes to dry.

Maintenance

  • Inspect the venting system behind the dryer to ensure it is not damaged or restricted.
  • Put a covering on outside wall dampers to keep out rain, snow and dirt.
  • Make sure the outdoor vent covering opens when the dryer is on.
  • Replace coiled-wire foil or plastic venting with rigid, non-ribbed metal duct.
  • Have gas-powered dryers inspected every year by a professional to ensure that the gas line and connection are together and free of leaks.
  • Check regularly to make sure nests of small animals and insects are not blocking the outside vent.
  • Keep the area around the clothes dryer free of items that can burn.
  • If you will be away from home for an extended time, unplug or disconnect the dryer.

 

 

Clothes dryer don’t’s

  • Don’t use a clothes dryer without a lint filter or with a lint filter that is loose, damaged or clogged.
  • Don’t overload the dryer.
  • Don’t use a wire screen or cloth to cover the wall damper. They can collect lint and clog the dryer vent.
  • Don’t dry anything containing foam, rubber or plastic. An example of an item not to place in a dryer is a bathroom rug with a rubber backing.
  • Don’t dry any item for which manufacturers’ instructions state “dry away from heat.”
  • Don’t dry glass fiber materials (unless manufacturers’ instructions allow).
  • Don’t dry items that have come into contact with anything flammable like alcohol, cooking oils or gasoline. Dry them outdoors or in a well-ventilated room, away from heat.
  • Don’t leave a clothes dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.

 

 

5 Warning Signs it’s Time to Clean Your Clothes Dryer Vent.

1. Drying time for clothes takes longer and longer.

When a dryer vent is clogged, the drying cycle can double or triple in time.  You’ll notice that clothes are not completely dry at the end of a regular cycle. A dryer is designed to push out the hot moist air for clothing to dry. If your vent is blocked by lint, the air will stay in your dryer keeping your clothes hot and moist. And when it takes twice as long to dry clothes, your dryer runs longer, putting more wear and tear on it and therefore cutting the machine’s life in half.

2. Your clothing and the outside of the dryer are very hot.

Do you notice that your clothing is very hot at the end of a cycle or the dryer is hot to touch? This warning sign means the vent is not exhausting properly. If your system is clogged, it not only wastes energy, but can cause the heating element and blower in the dryer to wear out faster.

 

3. You notice a burning smell.

When you run your dryer do you smell a burning odor? Lint, which is very flammable, can build up in the exhaust tube, lint trap and even in the drum casing. If it gets too hot, it can catch on fire, causing a burning smell. (Remember to empty the lint trap often). Discontinue use of your dryer and have it inspected as soon as possible.

4. The vent hood flap doesn’t open properly.

Another visual red flag that you’re due for a cleaning: You can see lint or debris around the dryer hose or outside vent opening: or the duct hood flap does not open as it is designed to do. An outside vent that doesn’t open when the dryer is running means air flow has been restricted due to lint buildup.

 

5. It’s been longer than a year since your last inspection.

Dryer vent ducts should be inspected at least once a year to reduce the risk of fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. If you hire a professional to clean your vent, expect to pay between $75 to $150, depending on the length and location of the vent. If the exterior exhaust vent is easily accessible, you can try cleaning it yourself with a brush kit. Some of the DIY cleaning kits do not always properly clean the vent duct. One advantage to hiring an experienced professional is he or she has likely seen just about every make and model of dryer and has the appropriate brush and equipment to effectively do the job.

 

 

 

Winterize Your Home – Avoid Headaches!

Winterize Your Home – Avoid Headaches!

 

Fall is here, which means, like it or not, cold weather is just around the corner. While most of us would prefer not to think about turning on our heat just yet, this is actually the best time to check your heating to ensure everything is operating as it should. Neglecting to winterize your home and letting small issues pile up can have big repercussions. Ahead of the winter season, make sure you’re aware of three major things that may go wrong if you don’t winterize your house or neglect your heating system.

 

  1. Your utility bills may skyrocket. Utility bills often jump up in the winter due to the increased hours of darkness and the cost to heat your home. But if your heater is on the fritz or your filters are clogged, you could be in for an even bigger surprise. Dirty filters cause your furnace to work harder, which leads to inefficiency and a shortened lifespan for your heating system. Replacing filters is often an easy task for homeowners. A yearly tune-up is an inexpensive way to help prevent a costly system breakdown in the coming months. Also, keep in mind that some warranties require annual tune-ups, so don’t let your warranty go invalid by skipping this year’s tune-up.

 

  1. The threat of carbon monoxide is very real. Do you know how old your furnace is? Do you know how long it’s been since a professional checked it over? Carbon monoxide poses a health threat when the heating system flue, vent or chimney becomes blocked from debris or other material. During a heating system tune-up, a professional service technician can check to make sure all your vents are not blocked and are working properly. Drains and traps also need to be checked and combustion gases should be analyzed and compared to the specifications of your furnace or boiler to make sure everything is running safely. Installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home is another smart way to help with early detection.

 

  1. Water pipes can burst. It’s not just your heating system that needs to be winterized. All too often it happens – we wake up to realize our pipes are frozen, or even worse, leaking. Before the cold sets in, make sure outside hoses are put away and water is turned off. Evaluate which pipes are at the greatest risk for freezing during cold weather. For example, if your water pipes come up from an un-insulated crawl space, or if they are in or close to an uninsulated outside wall or vent, they are more likely to freeze and burst in low temperatures. Inside pipes should be covered in insulation to keep pipes warmer longer. Pipe insulation is easy to apply and available at most hardware stores and home centers.

 

By having an annual tune-up in the fall, you can catch small issues now, instead of experiencing bigger problems in the dead of winter. A tune-up with a reputable local company can also save energy, reduce heating costs and prevent a system breakdown in the coming months.

 

 

OMG!  I CAN’T FIND MY KEYS

OMG! I CAN’T FIND MY KEYS

forgetfulness

It may be hard to know the difference between age-related changes and the first signs of Alzheimer’s disease. For example, if the person was never good at balancing a checkbook, struggling with this task is probably not a warning sign. But if their ability to balance a checkbook has recently changed, it is something to share with a doctor. To help, the Alzheimer’s Association has created this list of warning signs for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Individuals may experience one or more signs in different degrees. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.

Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s, especially in the early stages, is forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; relying on memory aides (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes forgetting names or appointments, but remembering them later.

Challenges in planning or solving problems.
Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Making occasional errors when balancing a checkbook.

Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Occasionally needing help to use the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.

Confusion with time or place.
People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Getting confused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.

Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships.
For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast. In terms of perception, they may pass a mirror and think someone else is in the room. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Vision changes related to cataracts.

New problems with words in speaking or writing.
People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).

What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes having trouble finding the right word.

Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps.
A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Misplacing things from time to time, such as a pair of glasses or the remote control.

Withdrawal from work or social activities.
A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.

Changes in mood and personality.
The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

What’s a typical age-related change?
Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irritable when a routine is disrupted.

 

If you’ve misplaced your keys, you’re probably just experiencing what millions of other Baby Boomers are: normal age-related memory difficulties. Here are some suggestions to help you with memory issues:

 

• Keep a routine
• Organize information (keep details in a calendar or day planner)
• Put items in the same spot (always put your keys in the same place by the door)
• Repeat information (repeat names when you meet people)
• Run through the alphabet in your head to help you remember a word
• Make associations (relate new information to things you already know)
• Involve your senses (if you are a visual learner, visualize an item)
• Teach others or tell them stories
• Get a full night’s sleep
• Learn more about what you can do to maintain your brain health and strengthen your memory

 

For better brain health, consider these options:

Challenge yourself: www.alzheimer.ca/en/aboutdementia/brain-health/challenge-yourself

Be socially active: www.alzheimer.ca/en/aboutdementia/brain-health/be-socially-active

Follow a healthy diet: www.alzheimer.ca/en/aboutdementia/brain-health/make-healthy-food-choices

Be physically active: www.alzheimer.ca/en/aboutdementia/brain-health/be-physically-active

Reduce stress: www.alzheimer.ca/en/aboutdementia/brain-health/reduce-stress

Protect your head: www.alzheimer.ca/en/aboutdementia/brain-health/protet-your-head

Make healthy lifestyle choices: www.alzheimer.ca/en/aboutdementia/brain-health/choose-wisely

 

If, on the other hand, you suspect a loved one may have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or a related dementia, it is important to get a proper diagnosis from a licensed doctor.

Be aware that many illnesses can cause confusion or dementia, and in some cases, those illnesses could be treated. For example, a urinary tract infection may cause confusion, but it can be treated. By having a correct diagnosis from a doctor, the doctor can decide on the best treatment and the family can start planning for the future. While there is no cure for AD and some other dementias, a loved one diagnosed with AD can maximize the quality of his or her life by receiving an early diagnosis.

The first step in getting an accurate diagnosis for an individual is visiting with that person’s primary care physician. Below are some quick tips to help you prepare a loved one for a visit to the doctor.

• Keep a journal of physical or mental complaints, unusual behaviors, and questions. Record such things as: What symptoms have you noticed? When did the symptoms first appear? How have the symptoms changed over time? Be specific and include minor symptoms. Present this to the doctor before the visit, if possible.

• Make a list of current medications. Include both prescription and over-the-counter drugs— even vitamins, supplements, herbs, and eye drops. Be sure to include a list of any drug allergies, as well as a list of current and past health problems.

• Schedule the appointment. You may want to talk with a loved one about making an appointment. Discuss this topic with a loved one, unless you think it will be upsetting. Ask a loved one if you can go along to the visit.

Written  by Fritzi Gros-Daillon

For additional information:
http://www.alz.org/stl/documents/visiting_the_doctor.pdf
http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/What-is-dementia/Normal-aging-vs-dementia
http://www.alzheimer.ca/en/About-dementia/Brain-health
https://www.alz.org/national/documents/aa_brochure_10warnsigns.pdf
http://www.alz.org/mnnd/documents/aging_memory_loss_and_dementia_what_is_the_difference.pdf

Age Safe at Home

Age Safe at Home

 

Almost one out of three adults age 65 and older falls each year.

 

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries for older adults. These falls cause lacerations, hip fractures and head trauma that could limit your ability to live independently and even increase risk for earlier death. Even if a fall injury does not occur, a fear of falling may develop causing you to limit activities that could reduce mobility and increase your risk of falling again.

 

Our homes are often considered our refuge and safe haven, but they are also where we need to be vigilant and practice injury prevention. Although this is true for all of us across our lifespan — from infancy through the elderly years, injuries that can affect older adults in the home are falls, injuries from fires, and problems with extreme heat or cold.

 

Researchers recommend the following to prevent and reduce fall injuries:

 

♦ Exercise regularly (including weight bearing exercises) to build strength and balance. Tai chi programs are often recommended.

 

♦  Maintain calcium and vitamin D levels to help prevent hip fractures and be checked for osteoporosis.

 

♦ Check prescription and over-the-counter drugs with pharmacists for side effects or interactions such as dizziness or drowsiness.

 

♦  Check vision at least annually and update eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions when needed.

 

♦ Make important environmental improvements in your home to make it safer. This includes reducing tripping or slipping hazards (loose rugs, clutter on floor, waxed floors, electrical or telephone cords in the walkways), adding grab bars inside and outside the tub or shower and next to the toilet, adding railings on both sides of stairways, and making sure lighting is good in the home and outdoors. Outdoor steps should also be in good condition.

 

As for home injuries due to fires, research shows that older adults need to make sure they have workable smoke alarms on each level of the home, particularly near rooms in which people sleep, and practice a fire escape plan. Smoke alarms with flashing lights or vibration alerts can be effective for those who suffer hearing loss. Carbon monoxide detectors are also important to install. Other recommendations include staying in the kitchen when cooking and not wearing loose clothing that can be a fire hazard.

 

During times of extreme cold or heat, older adults must be protected in the home and check in with relatives, friends and neighbors regularly if they live alone. As we age, we have less of an ability to detect changes in temperature. For heat, it is important to have fully functioning air conditioning (if not in the home then seek refuge often in public facilities that are air conditioned), stay hydrated, and wear appropriate clothing. For extreme cold, wear protective clothing and have easy access to a thermometer in an indoor location to check during the winter months.

 

Injury prevention is important at all ages, and for older adults it will mean enjoying your home for the safe haven it was meant to be.

 

 

Home Safety for Seniors – Statistics and Solutions

Home Safety for Seniors – Statistics and Solutions

Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. As more Canadians age, falls will become even more numerous and costly than they are now. As alarming as the statistics are, these documented statistics fall short of the actual numbers since many incidents are unreported by seniors and unrecognized by family members or caregivers. There are potentially millions more unreported falls.

 

Falls account for 25% of all hospital admissions and 40% of all nursing home admissions. 40% of those admitted will never return to independent living and 25% will die within one year.

 

The majority, 55 percent, of fall injuries among older people occurs inside the home and an additional 23 percent happen outside, but near the house. More fall injuries are caused by falls on the same level (vs. stairs) and from a standing highlight, i.e. tripping while walking. Many of these falls, and the resulting injuries, can be prevented by taking steps to eliminate or fix potential hazards in and around the home.

 

Let’s not forget the importance of Fire Safety:

Consider these statistics for older adults compared to the rest of the U.S. population:

  • People between 65 and 74 are nearly TWICE as likely to die in a fire.
  • People between 75 and 84 are nearly FOUR times as likely to die in a fire.
  • People ages 85 and older are more than FIVE times as likely to die in a fire.
  • Careless smoking is the LEADING cause of fire deaths and second leading cause of injuries among people ages 65 and older.
  • Heating equipment is the SECOND leading cause of fire death and the third leading cause of injury to people ages 65 and older.
  • Cooking is the THIRD leading cause of fire deaths and the leading cause of injury among people ages 65 and older.

 

Here’s why we developed Age Safe Canada. Approximately 90% of older adults say they want to age-in-place (meaning to stay in their own home instead of assisted living), yet 85% have done nothing to prepare their homes for aging. Plus much of the nation’s housing inventory lacks basic accessibility features, preventing older adults and those with disabilities from living safely and comfortably in their homes.

A New England Burden of Disease (BODE) report stated that “home safety assessment and modification” appears to be “a very cost-effective health sector intervention.” And even more cost-effective was targeting this intervention to older people with previous injurious falls. The cost-benefit analysis found a “33 percent reduction in spending to treat fall injuries over three years, and potentially a six-fold savings in ‘social costs’ related to such injuries.” In that study the average cost per home modification was $448. A 2014 report by the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies found that the five most important “universal design” features in the home are: no-step entries, extra-wide hallways, accessible living spaces on the ground floor and accessible light switches and door levers.

 

Simple changes can make measurable impact.

 

The overall goal is to make the home safer. Typical changes include the following:

Getting safely and securely into and out of the house.

  • Better outdoor lighting to get you from your car to the door.
  • Attractive ramps or a zero-step entrance for the home.
  • A package shelf by front door.
  • Handrails at existing steps and porches.
  • A front door with sidelight for security.
  • Fewer or no stairs.

 

Changes in the kitchen for easier meal preparation and eating.

  • Lever-handle faucets with pull-out spray.
  • Raised dishwasher to avoid back strain (a good idea for front-loading washers and dryers, too).
  • Rolling island that can be placed back under the counter.
  • Revolving corner shelves and pull-out shelves.
  • Lower, side-opening oven.
  • Pull-out cutting board.
  • Adjustable height sink.
  • Side-by side refrigerator with slide-out shelves and a water/ice dispenser.
  • Cooktop with controls on front.
  • Larger, friendlier cabinet and drawer pulls.

 

Changes in the bathrooms – the #1 place for accidents in your home.

  • Attractive grab bars in the shower.
  • Lever handles on faucets.
  • Slide-bar-type hand-held shower, for sitting or standing.
  • Shampoo nooks inset in the wall.
  • Curbless showers so that there is nothing to step over or rolled into with a wheelchair.
  • Tub and shower controls moved closer to entry point.
  • Anti-scald, temperature and pressure balanced tub shower valves for safer bathing.
  • Widened entry doors to at least 32.”
  • 32”-36” pocket doors.
  • Higher toilets with non-slam seats and lids.

 

Moving around within the house.

  • Improved lighting with recessed fixtures in common areas and hallways.
  • Lever handles on doors and windows.
  • Lower light switches and thermostats; raised outlets.
  • Planning for a future elevator by stacking closets.
  • Adding blocking in walls for future chair lift at stairs.
  • Wider doors that accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.

These are just a few examples. Virtually all rooms of your house can be improved, even closets and garages.

 

5 Simple Things You Can Do to Reduce Your Fall Risk:

  • Begin a regular exercise program.
  • Review your medicines regularly.
  • Have your vision checked annually.
  • Wear sturdy, nonskid shoes at all times.
  • Make your home environment safer.

 

100% of ER doctors agree that an annual Home Safety Assessment is important to keep seniors safe at home.

 

A comprehensive Home Safety Assessment can pay for itself by avoiding the high cost of injury or assisted living.

 

 

Who is Age Safe Canada?

Age Safe Canada is a national membership, training and advocacy organization dedicated to meet the growing need for Home Safety Assessments and Aging-in-Place Home Modifications. Members are independent advisors, providers, contractors and professionals dedicated to helping seniors and their families determine the steps necessary to maximize both safety and independence.

 

 

 

 

Aging Comes With Changes

Aging Comes With Changes

Aging affects each individual differently. Some seniors experience physical limitations that seriously affect their level of activity while others are able to remain quite active. The natural process of growing older, however, generally includes changes in abilities. If you’re experiencing some of the problems associated with the changes described below, consult your health professional and make sure you undertake whatever changes or adaptations will help you cope and compensate.

 

Vision

Eyes take longer to adjust from dark to light and vice versa, and become more sensitive to glare from sunlight or unshielded light bulbs. There is a decline in depth perception that can make it hard to judge distances. Perceiving contrasts and colors can also be more difficult.

 

Touch, Smell and Hearing

Sensitivity to heat, pain and pressure decreases; this may make it more difficult to detect a liquid’s temperature or changes in ground or floor surfaces. Sense of smell diminishes, making it harder to smell spoiled food, leaking gas and smoke. Hearing loss can result in difficulty hearing telephones, doorbells, smoke alarms, etc.; it can also result in a decrease in balance, which can make falling more likely.

 

Bone Density

Bones naturally become less dense and weaker with age. Bone loss (osteoporosis) among seniors can be worsened by lack of exercise and nutritional deficiencies. Bone loss can lead to painful fractures, disfigurement, lowered self-esteem and a reduction or loss of mobility.

 

Balance and Gait

Balance is a complex function involving eyes, inner ear, muscular strength and joint flexibility. Any one of these can change as a result of aging. A general decline in equilibrium can make it more difficult to maintain or recover balance, meaning that a slip or trip can become a fall. The speed of walking, the height to which the heels are lifted, and the length of a person’s stride can change with age. These changes can make it more likely for someone to experience a fall.

 

Memory

In general, sharp brains tend to stay sharp. Cognitive processing and memory may take a bit longer, but this is a normal effect of aging. This is why it’s important to make lists and keep phone numbers handy.

Most seniors develop effective coping mechanisms as they age. Being aware of the normal changes of aging allows you to plan for home and lifestyle adaptations that will help you retain your health, quality of life and independence.