10 Things to Know about Safety This Fall

  1. National Preparedness Month. September is National Preparedness Month – a time to prepare your family for handling emergency situations. This year’s theme is “Don’t Wait, Communicate,” and the Red Cross encourages all families to talk about and develop a disaster preparedness plan. An important part of any preparedness plan is having a family communications plan in place. Visit Ready.gov for information on emergency preparedness planning, such as how to plan for individuals with disabilities and other people who have accessibility needs. Also make sure your home has a fully stocked emergency kit. To stay informed, sign up for Wireless Emergency Alerts or download free Red Cross emergency mobile apps to have preparedness tools on-the-go. At the end of National Preparedness Month, take part in a national day of action, known as America’s PrepareAthon!, by getting involved in emergency preparedness events in your local community and helping to spread the word. Find out about events near you by connecting with your local Red Cross chapter.
  2. Prepare for Fall Weather. After the extreme heat of summer, fall can feel like a welcome relief. But the autumn months can come with their own weather-related issues. Hurricane season runs through the end of November and can bring with it damaging winds, heavy rainfall and floods. Learn what to do to prepare for a hurricaneand what emergency supplies you may need. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers hurricane preparedness public service announcements and videos in American Sign Language. Flooding is another weather hazard during fall. Visit FloodSmart.gov to learn about the causes of floods, if the area where you live may be at risk and how the National Flood Insurance Program can help you protect your home and property. Find flood recovery tips from the American Red Cross. Falling leaves can clog gutters and be a fire hazard, but burning them can release toxic chemicals, so consider raking and bagging them instead. When the days get colder, call your heating and cooling company to service your furnace before turning on the heat.
  3. Don’t Fall This Fall! Did you know that one out of three adults age 65 and older fall each year? Falls are thenumber one cause of fractures, hospital admissions for trauma, loss of independence and injury or deaths for seniors. But you can take action! Learn how to prevent falls outdoors and at home or take a falls risk self-assessment. Visit the website of the Fall Prevention Center of Excellence to find information to keep you and your loved ones safe from falls. The site has resources for older adults and caregivers, including the three main strategies of fall prevention: balance training and physical activity, medical management and environmental orhome modifications. Get answers to frequently asked questions about falls and aging adults from the National Institutes of Health’s SeniorHealth.gov. Learn about fall prevention programs and strategies from the National Falls Prevention Resource Center. For more information, read “6 Steps for Preventing Falls” for more information.
  4. Securing Your Medicine Cabinet. If taking medication prescribed by your doctor is part of your daily health routine, it’s important to take proper safety precautions. Many medications can be damaged by heat, air, light, and moisture, so follow medication storage guidelines to avoid affecting how well the medicine works. The best place to store medicine is somewhere cool and dry. Keep young children safe by choosing a storage place that is out of their reach. Keep track of all the medications you take by always having an updated list with information including what you take, how often you take it, what the dose is, and why you take it. Educate yourself about your medications by knowing what questions to ask your doctor. If you’re planning to travel, bring your medication list with you, and keep these travel safety tips for taking medicines in mind. Don’t forget to check all of your medications for expiration dates. If you need to throw out old medications, follow these tips to throw away your old medicines safely.
  5. School + Safety = Smart. As the school year begins, parents and teachers should take some time to brush up on school safety tips and talk with kids about smart safety habits to remember throughout the school day. Getting to and from school safely is important. Make sure your children know about school bus safety and how to walk to school safely. If you pack healthy lunches for your child, be mindful of the food you prepare and make sure anything perishable is kept cold. Follow these tips for keeping “bag” lunches safe. Recess is an enjoyable time of the school day, but remind your children that getting hurt on the playground isn’t fun and share these playground safety lessons with them. Teach kids who stay home alone after school about what to do to stay safe in case of an emergency. Ensure that any play dates your child may have are safe by asking the friend’s parent these 12 important play date safety questions.
  6. Buckle Up! Traveling in a car with a disability can provide tremendous freedom, but there are many safety elements to keep in mind. Many vehicles can be adapted and modified with lifts and harnesses to accommodate wheelchairs and riders with varying physical abilities. These modifications can be costly, but lifesaving and some funding may be available to assist people with those costs. When driving or riding in a motor vehicle, we all know seat belts are a must. But a traditional seat belt doesn’t always work for all passengers. There are after-market harnesses and other modifications that can help adapt an automobile’s safety features to suit every rider’s needs. For children with special needs, there are many specialized car seats available.
  7. Keeping Your Home Secure. It’s important for all homeowners to take precautions to make sure that all residents are safe, including those with disabilities. One of the main dangers in a home is a fire. Homes should haveworking smoke detectors that will alert residents to the possibility of a fire. There are specialized smoke detectors with photoelectric strobes for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. In addition to proper smoke detectors, family members should all be involved in developing an escape plan in the event of the fire. All members of a household should contribute to that plan taking into account their abilities and mobility in that plan. A less common, but just as dangerous, hazard is carbon monoxide. All homes should be equipped with a working carbon monoxide detector that can alert residents to a leak of this colorless, odorless, and deadly gas.Additional strategies for keeping your home safe can be taken to avoid injuries in case of an emergency.
  8. Preventing Personal Crime. In 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice found that people with disabilities were twice as likely to be victims of violent crimes. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid dangerous situations and know how to defend yourself if you’re in them. Review these safety tips to prevent becoming the victim of a violent crime, such as theft or assault. Whether you’re at home or out and about, always know your surroundings and let someone else know where you are. Parents, caregivers or other adults that interact with children with disabilities should also be alert for signs of abuse. Not all crimes are physical – financial scams are crimes, too. All individuals, especially older adults, should know ways to protect themselves from financial scams. If you have become the victim of a crime and need assistance, you can find crime victim assistance in many places across the country. You may also wish to call one of these national hotlines for help. In addition, the State Crime Victims Compensation programs reimburse victims for crime-related expenses, like medical costs, counseling, lost wages and more.
  9. Protecting Yourself Online. You would probably never leave your door unlocked or let a stranger into your home, but you may forget about the importance of protecting yourself online. Learn to avoid scammers, hackers and identity thieves by reading these online security tips from the Federal Trade Commission. Find more information about protecting your online personal information and learn about common fraud scams, including those targeting seniors and ones related to work-at-home jobs. Charity Navigator offers tips on how to avoid online charity scams. Some scammers may email or call you and claim to be representing a government agency, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development or the U.S. Social Security Administration. They may claim you have been awarded a housing grant or disability payment, but need to pay an upfront fee so they can process it. Never wire money or provide credit card information to these people. Learn how to report fraud at StopFraud.gov. You can report identity theft at IdentityTheft.gov.
  10. Recovering Financially from Disaster. Once you are safe from a disaster, your next question might be, how can I recovery financially? In some situations, the Red Cross provides financial relief for those who don’t have anywhere else to turn. The federal government provides disaster relief assistance. Visit DisasterAssistance.gov to find aid, apply online and check the status of your application. Sometimes employment can be interrupted by disasters. The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Disaster Unemployment Assistance provides unemployment benefits if you lose your job as a direct result of a presidentially-declared disaster. Find other resources for benefits, like the federal-state unemployment insurance program, at DOL’s recovery assistance website. The U.S. Department of the Treasury also offers taxpayers assistance to recover financially from the impact of a disaster through the Casualties, Disasters, and Theft program and the Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief Program. Homeowners in a declared disaster area can receive financial help from the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Home and Property Disaster Loans, or may quality for an insured mortgage.