There are several things that can be done to create a safer home environment for yourself or a loved one. SSM Health at Home has a wide selection of medical and patient safety equipment in our stores.

Below is information, tips, and suggestions for making the home safer.

Outside the Home

  • Install handrails on all stairs and make sure they are in good repair.
  • If unable to climb stairs, consider installing a ramp.
  • Make sure entrances are well lit.
  • A grab bar on the door frame can make stepping into the home easier and safer

Throughout the House

  • Clear walking paths and keep high-traffic areas free of clutter.
  • Secure or remove area rugs.
  • Keep stairways well lit.

In the Kitchen

  • Rearrange cupboards to place frequently used items within easy reach.
  • Instead of climbing onto a chair or stool to reach for objects, purchase a reacher/grabber.
  • Wear shoes to prevent slipping.
  • Mop up spills drips right away.

In the Bedroom

  • Consider renting or purchasing a hospital-type bed with side rails.
  • An over bed trapeze aids in getting in and out of bed.
  • A portable commode can be placed beside the bed to avoid nighttime trips to the bathroom.
  • Have a phone next to the bed.
  • Use a nightlight.

In the Bathroom

  • Install grab bars on bathroom walls.
  • Install a raised toilet seat or toilet safety frame.
  • Switch to a hand-held shower.
  • Patient lifts and transport chairs help non-mobile individuals get into the shower.
  • Provide a bath bench for those who have trouble standing.
  • Use a nightlight.

Hand Washing is Essential to Prevent the Spread of Infection

Soap and water are the most important components in preventing the spread of infection. Caregivers must wash their hands before and after giving care, even if they wear gloves.

Steps to proper hand washing:

  • Turn on the water and adjust the temperature to warm.
  • Apply liquid soap to hands and work up a lather and scrub hands, wrists, and fingers for 15 seconds, paying special attention to cleaning under nails.
  • Rinse thoroughly under running water.
  • Dry completely with a clean towel or paper towel.
  • Use the towel to turn off the water.
  • If using a cloth towel put into the wash; if using a paper towel discard in the trash.

Care of Medical Supplies

  • Keep medical supplies in their original packages until ready for use.
  • Designate an area of the home for storage of medical supplies away from heat sources, direct sunlight, moisture, children and pets.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before handling medical supplies.
  • Throw away any supplies suspected of being contaminated.
  • Used supplies contaminated with blood or body fluids should be placed in a plastic bag before discarding.
  • With the exception of sharps (used needles and syringes), used supplies may be discarded with regular garbage.

Safe Handling of Sharps

When necessary, a special container should be used for safe disposal of used needles and syringes. Do not put any other items into a sharps container. Promptly place contaminated needles and syringes into a sharps container after use.

Medication Management

  • Do not take medications prescribed for someone else.
  • Create a complete list of current medications (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins and herbals). Review the list periodically and keep up-to-date. Show the list to the physician or pharmacist to prevent inappropriate combinations.
  • Know the name of each medication being taken, why it is taken, how to take it, potential side effects, and what foods or other things to avoid while taking it.
  • Take medications exactly as instructed.
  • Do not stop or change medications without a physician’s approval, even if feeling better. If a dose is missed, do not double the next dose.
  • Use a chart or container system to help remember what kind, how much and when to take medications.
  • Store medications in a cool, dry place according to the instructions on the label.
  • Call the physician if new side effects occur.

Proper Disposal of Medications

  • Do not flush prescription medications down the toilet or drain unless the label or accompanying information instructs you to do so. In Dane County, old prescriptions and over-the-counter medications can be taken to a MedDrop® event. Visit to learn more about the date, time and location of the next event. If you live outside of Dane County, check to see if your community has a MedDrop® event.
  • If unable to take medications to a MedDrop® event:
  • Take prescription drugs out of their original containers.
  • Mix drugs with an undesirable substance, such as cat litter or used coffee grounds and place into a disposable container with a lid or into a sealed bag.
  • Conceal or remove any personal information on the empty medication containers, including prescription numbers.
  • Placed sealed containers of medication and empty drug containers into the trash.

Food Safety

To prevent foodborne illness, food must be handled, cooked and stored safely.

  • Wash hands and food preparation surfaces often.
  • Separate food to prevent cross contamination.
  • Cook to the proper temperature.
  • Refrigerate promptly.