Did you get the plate of that truck that hit me? I ask because…
…I am sore as (expletive deleted.) Yesterday, for the 24th year in a row, I executed my “Senior Safety Saturday” event, making the homes of 75 people who are aging in place safer and more secure.
The most dangerous thing that happens to older people is a fall. Bones are more brittle and break more easily. They also are more vulnerable to the dangers of a home fire, such as forgetting a pot on the stove or falling asleep while a candle or other ignition source is burning.
For the last ten weeks, I have been working with a cadre of volunteers who have identified homes where safety improvements are needed. They did an inspection using a checklist that I developed, obtained a waiver, and helped me assemble a “master list” of required supplies:
- Better lighting to light the path between the bedroom and bathroom so as seniors get up at night, they don’t trip
- Non-slip bath mats for the tub, shower, and floor
- grab bars for the tub and shower
- updated smoke alarms with 10-year lithium batteries
- new or replacement CO detectors
- An escape plan, as well as ensuring pathways of escape are available and able to be operated quickly in an emergency (for example, windows that were painted shut were made to be operational again.)
I had 40 volunteers assist throughout the day.
All I do for this event is a little fundraising (about $15,000 all totaled), arrange insurance, work with a building supplies retailer to arrange purchase of needed equipment and supplies, get said supplies moved from the store to storage near our site of action (my local fire department where I am a Life Member is just the location), organize “who is going where,” and take care of logistics and last-minute emergencies throughout the day.
After accepting the traditional “big check” from the primary sponsor, and allowing the political leaders of our county to have some photo ops and shake hands, we’re off to the races of event execution. By now, I have this event so organized that we can complete all tasks for all homes in less than four hours. (That is far better than earlier events that took 12 hours or longer. Many hands make light work.)
This year, 75 homes were reached with these improvements. That is about average, but an important and large “dent” in the number of homes where people are aging-in-place and at risk of fires and falls. According to my local fire department’s stats, home fires and calls by EMS for falls in the area where we have done this work for the past 24 years are down by over 33% (home fires) and over 50% (falls). This is significant! I am thrilled.
But man oh man oh man, am I sore! This work does not get any easier as I get closer to the age of this event’s primary clients :-). But they call on me for the “tricky stuff” which may mean reaching in odd locations, running some electrical connection above my head, and a lot of bending and crawling on hands-and-knees. I have no idea why the “head guy” has to do these things, but inevitably, I do.
Life is short: be safe in the place you feel safest — your own home.