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Ten Ways to Organize for Safety and Health

I had the opportunity to speak at the Vision Expo in Wyomissing, Pennslvania and I talked about organizing the home to make it safer and healthier. For people who have vision impairment, navigating a home can be difficult. And for those of us with aging parents, we want to make sure their homes are free of clutter so they can stay in their homes longer. Here are ten ways to organize for safety and health. Let’s break it down:

Kitchen-food items

  • Throw out expired food in pantry and clean out the fridge—nobody wants food poisoning.
  • Stop stock piling; that’s the easiest way to lose track of food.

Kitchen-non-food

  • Keep items you use every day on the counter for easy access. Remove items that aren’t used weekly.
  • No pushing past or digging for what you need in cabinets/drawers. Let go of excess.
  • Double stacking mugs, plastic containers, etc. can be a hazard if items come crashing out at you.

Medications

  • Go through medications and look for expirations; keep current medications front and center in one place (use tray or basket). 
  • Other medicines (cough, cold, etc.): Eliminate expired meds or items that never worked as promised.
  • Take unneeded and expired medications (in their original containers) to your local police department for recycling.

Containerize

  • Containers make it visually easier to locate items by grouping “like with like”.
  • Containers also make it easier for you or a cleaning service to wipe surfaces.

Floors-hallways and walkways

  • Walk through your home with a visitor’s eye and see where clutter resides. Find a safer home for the clutter that resides there.
  • Floors are for shoes, furniture and organization tools (i.e. baskets, magazine racks, etc.). Secure throw rugs with double-sided tape.
  • Make sure walkways have grab bars and night lights where necessary.

Paper/Mail/Bills

  • The biggest culprit of clutter and dust (and frustration) is paper.
  • Keep seven years of tax returns and the bills and receipts that back-up those taxes.
  • All other bills don’t need to be kept.
  • If you aren't sure what papers to keep, ask your accountant or lawyer.

Books/Magazines/Newspapers

  • Stacks of books, magazines and newspapers collect dust and make it difficult to maneuver in the home.
  • Give yourself a limit on how many magazines or books to keep: set aside one bookcase or one magazine rack and donate or recycle the rest.

Steps and entry ways

  • Clear all steps and entry ways of clutter.
  • Don’t use steps as storage; this is dangerous. Instead of using your attic entry way steps as storage, purchase a thin storage system to hang on the attic door.
  • Make sure steps and entry ways have grab bars and night lights where necessary.

Your front door

  • Be selective about what you bring through your front door; everything you bring through the front door has strings attached and must be dealt with.
  • Follow the one in-one out method.
  • Don’t add to the clutter, trust your judgment and don’t allow advertisers to convince you to buy items you don’t need and can’t afford.

Finally, contact your local health care agencies to get their tips on how to make homes healthier and safer.

Changing a few key things in your or your loved one’s home can go a long way to give you and your family peace of mind.

Clutter Quote: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo da Vinci

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