This article was posted on Monday, Jun 01, 2015

Home – it’s the place you go to relax and get away from the stress of everyday life and it doesn’t matter if your home is a place you won or rent.  Your home is your castle.

Unfortunately, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47% of all injuries requiring medical attention occurred while the patients were at home.  Keep an eye out for these common injury culprits. 

Safety Ideas for Your Tenants

Seniors, 65 and older, are at the top of the list of ER visits for injuries caused by falls in the home.  Surprisingly, falls are also the top injury cause for middle aged adults and preschoolers too.  So, what can you do as the property manager or owner to help make it safer for your tenants?  Here are some ideas that can help: 

  • Obstruction:  First off, encourage them to keep the stairs and the floors in high traffic areas clear of obstructions that could cause the resident to trip and fall.
  • Lighting: Another preventative measure you can do is to keep adequate lighting in and around your home or apartment building. Encourage the use of night lights or flashlights if you get up after hours. Provide adequate lighting in common areas and make sure all stairs and steps have adequate and secure handrails. 
  • Grab Bars/Handrails: If any of your residents are limited in movement, handicapped or just elderly, grab bars in the bathroom and handrails make it safer for your residents.  Safety devices such as these make it clear to your tenant that you care about their well-being. 
  • Baby Gates: If you have residents with babies, encourage the use of baby gates to keep toddlers in safer areas.  The damage done to walls is minimal and can easily be repaired.  You don’t want a toddler to fall down a set of stairs because you, the owner or property manager, told the resident that they could not put the gates in because they damage the walls. 
  • Anchors: As with baby gates, putting anchors on bookcases and large screen TVs and anything that a small child can pull over or an earthquake could cause it to fall, could save your residents from serious injury.  Again, the holes for such anchors can easily be repaired. 
  • Rugs: Another cause of falls is rugs in common areas as well as in each residence.  Make sure all rugs have non-skid backing, make sure edges are not curled up where they are just asking to trip someone. 
  • Spills: Spills are another cause of falls.  Make sure that all spills in common areas are immediately cleaned up.  Encourage your residents to clean up any spill they have made or have come across in their daily activities. 
  • Objects Falling: Another cause of injury at home is something falling on a resident.  Things that are heavy and can fall from a closet shelf and bump you on the head can cause serious harm.  Things that are heavy should be kept on lower shelves.  Granted, you cannot make this happen as you are not the resident, although you can remind your residents of the danger.  This could be done during your yearly or six month inspections or you can remind them in a safety letter.  Things should be secured or kept on lower shelves in any common area. 
  • Slips: Slips that occur in the bathroom or on a wet hallway (from the weather or cleaning) or a trip over a rug are common accidents that could send you or your resident to the ER.  Make sure that wet floors are identified by “Wet Floor” caution signs until the floor is dry. 
  • Playgrounds:  If your property has communal playgrounds, you should add a protective surface under swings and children’s play areas.  Kids are going to fall – that’s a given, so make the surface they play on as safe as possible. 
  • Drawers and Cabinets:  Encourage your tenants to close cabinet doors and drawers immediately after use.  This should be a rule in common areas. 
  • Sharp Table Edges: Other things you can remind your tenants to do to protect their family is to cushion sharp table edges at least until their children are standing and walking steadily. 

It seems that there are more injuries in the home during the winter months than any other time.  This may be due to the cold, wet, nasty weather and it is just too uncomfortable to be outside.  In the winter, water is tracked in making floors slick and dangerous.

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As the property owner or manager, it is your responsibility to see that your property is as safe as possible.  Granted, you cannot go into a unit and demand the tenant to do this or not to do that, but you can use such things as friendly reminders in the form of informative emails, newsletters and even a simple flier or letter to the tenant. It not only shows the tenant you care about their safety, it also shows that you are doing everything you can to provide a safe environment. 

Ed Bartley is a retired police officer, former school teacher and former 911 operator.  Reprinted with permission of the Rental Housing Association UPDATE.