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Spring Cleaning for Safety

Spring cleaning is a great way to sweep out the winter doldrums and welcome the fresh, new season with a clean and organized home.

For caregivers whose loved ones have health and mobility issues, it’s also a good opportunity to assess their health and safety.

The first step is to assess any changes in your loved one’s mobility, alertness and other health needs. Things that may not have been hazards or concerns, even six months ago, could now pose a threat.

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Change out the filters in the HVAC system. Look for filters that will capture pollen and other allergens and that have antimicrobial properties. A new filter will mean cleaner air, easier breathing and less household dust on surfaces and in carpets.

Consider a separate plug-in air filter to help maintain indoor air quality.

Floors

Look for tripping hazards. As the weather warms, it might be time to take up some of the rugs that were keeping things cozy during the winter. Give them a good shake and a vacuum, make sure they are completely dry, wrap them in plastic and put them in storage for next fall. Also, after cleaning, make sure rug edges are secured to the floor with double-sided tape.

Thoroughly sweep, mop and vacuum every room to get rid of dust, irritants and germs that may have accumulated during the winter months.

To prevent slips, place mats at each doorway, inside and out, to collect thawing snow and rainwater. Use heavy-duty, double-sided tape to hold them securely in place.

Outdoors

Winter can wreak havoc on outdoor living spaces. Check for new cracks in sidewalks and driveways that could be tripping hazards. See if concrete surfaces need a thorough scrub or pressure washing to get rid of material that might compromise their traction.

Survey the yard for any soft spots, erosion or other uneven surfaces that could cause issues for someone with unsteady gait.

Look over decks, patios and stairs for wood that should be replaced. Fix nails and screws poking up from the surface. Check the stability of railing,s and reinforce where needed.

Trim trees and bushes that are impeding on walkways or driveway visibility. If your loved one is still driving, make sure they can clearly see the road as they are pulling out and that they are visible to drivers from all directions.

Kitchen

Check to see if the location of small appliances, dishes, utensils, etc. are still convenient for your loved one.

Clean out the fridge. Toss anything that is expired and leftovers that are more than two-days old. Rearrange contents, so that frequently used items are easily accessible in the door or at the front of shelves.

Go through the cabinets and pantry, too. Toss out expired food and wipe down shelf surfaces.

As you clean out food storage areas, make notes on what is being used and what is going to waste so you can help your loved one refine their shopping lists.

Whole house

Wipe down hard surfaces with hot, soapy water or disinfectant to get rid of any lingering germs or viruses. Doorknobs, door frames, countertops, sinks, chair arms, side tables, trays, etc. And don’t forget to wipe down phones and remote controls!

Change out the batteries in smoke detectors and CO2 detectors.

Spring cleaning is no small task, and what’s listed here will probably only get you started.

What’s important is that you can objectively look at your loved one’s needs and limitations and create the best environment for their health, safety and happiness.