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Canadian Connection: Safety Begins at Home

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 17 June 2003 00:00

Once snow and ice melt into a bad memory, too many Canadians relax their guard and take home safety for granted. As long as unintentional injuries, usually called "accidents," remain a leading cause of death, hospitalization and loss of independence, our sense of security at home may be a false one.

Although most people treasure independence above all else, especially as they age, not enough people take action to preserve this autonomy. According to the Canada Safety Council, accidental falls continue to account for 65 per cent of injuries among older Canadians and result in 40 per cent of admissions to nursing homes. Falls are also the main cause of fatal injury among the elderly.

Exercise and good flexibility are antidotes to this problem and we know that people are living more active, healthier lives than ever before. However, until we get over the stereotypes of aging and make our homes the safest places to be at any age, we will see little progress. Grab bars make sense for everyone. Well-lit, clutter-free stairs are essential for all. When was the last time you evaluated your home safety?

If finances limit safety-enhancing upgrades and renovations, contact Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Veterans Affairs Canada or your local politician to see whether you qualify for renovation and adaptation loans and grants.

Moving from a hectic impersonal city environment to a rural setting or small town is seen by many as a move towards a more secure life. Thanks to our federal and provincial politicians that security may also be an illusion. We pass on this warning from real estate professionals: "Tell people to be sure they can find a local family doctor before they move!"

New residents should not give up their current doctors, no matter how far away they've moved, until they have found a new physician, dentist, eye doctor etc. locally and have spent enough time with that doctor to be satisfied with their level of care.

Wheel into Safety

With the warmer weather, children on bicycles, scooters, skateboards, in-line skates and all-terrain vehicles seem to be everywhere. Most Canadians know that wearing a helmet can prevent a serious injury. Four out of five parents say their kids wear helmets when cycling or in-line skating. However, over half of adult cyclists don't wear a helmet when they ride.

Perhaps adults need a few lessons from Elmer the Safety Elephant who has taught generations of Canadian children good road safety habits.

In 1947, Elmer the Safety Elephant was born in Toronto, Ontario, with dramatic impact: traffic accidents involving Toronto children dropped an astonishing 44 per cent - even though vehicle registrations increased by 10 per cent!

Since then Elmer has help children overcome momentary excitement and remember to be careful. Elmer the Safety Elephant's slogan is "Elmer and I never forget." (Not a bad one for adults either.) Elmer has seven traffic safety rules to follow and addresses many aspects of injury prevention, including playground, fire, school bus, railway, home and Internet safety.

We are slowly evolving towards a more secure world...

  • More and more housing-linked-to-services is being built. Some condominiums have age-in-place features roughed-in so that residents will not have to move from their homes whatever the future holds. More community-based groups are getting into the housing game and fewer are waiting for the government to foot the bill or start the housing ball rolling.

  • Growing awareness of the importance of good interior air quality is promoting the concept of healthy home, safe home.

  • Canadians are getting to know their neighbours instead of hiding at home in front of the TV. This is the way we'll win the fight against terrorism, prejudice and fear.

    Let's celebrate improved home security!

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