Friday, December 19, 2014

Improving Accessibility Of Your Home During The Holidays and Winter


Holiday decorations make for an inviting front door and walkway.

As we dive headfirst into this year’s holiday season, it is important to keep your houseguests’ comfort in mind.


Holiday preparations are stressful enough, but ensuring the visitability of your house is one crucial step that is often ignored until the last minute. Nothing ruins a holiday party like an accident to a loved one who slipped and fell on the front steps and broke her ribs because the steps weren’t properly cleaned or slip-proofed. Or the cousin who slips on a patch of ice and breaks a wrist as he helps grandma from her wheelchair.

There are several ways in which you might accommodate your visitors, and help prevent falls. You might clean the house before Christmas or set up an elaborate holiday display in your front lawn. You are going to want to make sure that you have enough food for everyone at the table so you’ll cook double the amount that you think will be eaten. These are all great measures to take in order to ensure a festive experience for all – assuming that everyone can get through the front door. Along with the regular holiday preparations, it is important to make sure that all of your guests can easily access your home. What I’m talking about here is a term called ‘visitability’, or the degree to which one can easily visit your house.

Wheelchair ramp being used in winter by elderly people.These accidents are things that can be easily avoided with some simple preparation. All it requires is for you to put yourself in the mindset of someone with a mobility issue. While you are hanging up those holiday decorations, take a walk around the house to identify the best access point for someone with a mobility issue. Even if you don’t have someone in your family with a direct impairment, plan for the unexpected. You never know who those extra last minute guests might be and it is better to be prepared than to be unprepared.
Once you’ve identified the best point of access, think of ways that you can enhance visitability without breaking the bank. Not all solutions need to be permanent - portable ramps are a temporary quick-fix for short rises that are inaccessible to someone in a wheelchair. Deploy one the night of your holiday gathering and conveniently store it away after it has been used. If poor weather is on the horizon and could lead to icy, slippery steps, you might want to consider installing some non-slip treads to provide extra traction for all of your visitors, preventing a potential slip and fall injury. Of course, all icy steps and pathways should be shoveled and salted. Finally, make sure your point of access is well-lit and that all steps feature railings to support someone in the case of a stumble.
Non slip treads on a ramp.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started, but each home is different and will require a unique visitability solution. Let’s all have a save and joyous holiday season!