Access, Safety & Security

Improve Access, safety & Security around your home

Identifying who has entered your property or at your front door.

security monitors will let you know who is around

Personal Home Security Systems, whether it might be a 8 camera video surveillance system a video doorbell can be effective ways of letting you know who has entered your property or might be at your front door.

Are you now having trouble getting up look through the peephole of the door from your bed or favourite recliner chair?  If so, then having the ability to observe who is either at the front door or is walking around your inside your yard from the comfort wherever you might be relaxing is a great lifestyle improvement for you.

Personal Home 8 Camera Security Systems bring peace of mind and comfort by allowing you to having a dedicated TV screen or 2 for observing what’s going on around your home.    Alternatively, you might be able to simply have the option of just switching HDMI sources on existing TV’s to flick from Digital TV display to the Security System display.

Video door bells might typically come with a single screen for viewing who’s at the front door but there have been a lot of advancements in this space in recent years, so now you also have the option of viewing the feed from your video doorbell on your TV as well.

If you are comfortable purchasing items on eBay, Amazon, catch, or Kogan, then you can normally get some fantastic deals and will have a lot more options to look at that if you buying a system from a store with a door.   If you’re not a person that does thing online, don’t fret, there is a plethora of stores that sell home security systems and video door bells such as Bunnings, Harvey Norman, The Good Guys, JB Hi-Fi, Officeworks, and Jaycar to name just a few.   If you shop at Aldi, keep your eyes open for their specials and when they offer you the specials catalogue at the checkout, be sure to grab it.   I purchased an 8 camera system from Aldi a few years ago and I’m still using it.  It was made by a Victorian company, it is of great quality, easy to use and only cost me $275.   

You could also look up Home Security System manufacturers like Swan and see if you can purchase a system over the phone or if not, ask them what is the nearest re-seller or retailer of their products closest to your home.

If you purchase a wired system rather than a wireless system, I recommend getting a cabling contractor or a CCTV installation specialist to run the cables through your home as you will want this done professionally so that you don’t have ugly cables running along walls inside your home.   It doesn’t cost a lot and is well worth it.

If you have the internet on at home, you can setup a Swann security system so that you can view what’s going on around your home on your phone or tablet.   You will need to download an app onto your phone and there’s a little bit of setting it up, so if you are not a technology friendly senior, you might need to engage some assistance from the kids, grandkids or a tech savvy neighbour.

Once you’ve got your cameras setup around your home, I would also recommend purchasing an array of motion detection activated solar powered spotlights and position them strategically around your home.   Alternatively, you could contact an electrician and get some mains electricity powered LED spotlights that are also motion detection activated hardwired in.   Even though your security system will have an infra red ability to see at night, you cannot see the face of people clearly with infra red and if your eyesight isn’t as good as it used to be, you might not even be able to make out what people are doing via the infra red vision.

By having an array of spotlights around your home, when someone does approach within a certain distance, the affected area will light up lights it’s daytime and you can see clearly who it is and what they are doing.

I strongly recommend getting contacting your electricity retailer (the company you pay your power bills to) and find out from them who you contact in your area to get a special lock for your electrical box on the outside of your home.  The last thing you want a person with criminal intent doing is simply opening your electrical box and turning off the mains power to your home and thus making your home security system redundant.   These special locks are around $150, they are pick proof and cannot be cut with bolt cutters (from what I remember at least) and will securely lock your electricity box.   The electrical retailer will still be able to check your meter as all meter readers carry a master key that will open all of these specialty locks.

I think a personal 8 camera home security system is the best option.   They are constantly showing you what’s going on at all key areas of your home as well as recording everything 24/7.  If there is a motion detection event, they immediately start making a specific alarm recording and they will also record around 30 seconds prior to the event as well as 30 seconds after.

Assuming that they don’t get into your home and only just give you a scare, police can save your recordings onto a flash drive, take it back to the station with them and if they can work out who these people are they can charge them for trespassing at the very least.

If you are worried about people getting into your home and want to read up on the various options for keeping unwanted visitors out, check my Blog Page occasionally as I fully intend to write an article about all the various things you can do to keep you safe inside your home.

Install a wheelchair, scooter or walker access ramp

Install a wheelchair, scooter or walker access ramp

The term “wheelchair ramp” refers to any specially constructed inclined ramp that is installed at a person’s home in addition to or instead of a set of stairs.   These ramps allow wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and wheeled walkers to safely access their homes.   Wheelchair ramps are generally intended to make entry and exit at designated points of homes easier and safer for people with mobility issues. A wheelchair ramp will be built or installed so that using stairs to enter or exit your home is no longer an option.

Wheelchair ramps have come a long way over the years, and they are now more of a quality feature of a home than a noticeable difference from your neighbor’s.   Wheelchair ramps can be installed or applied to your home in a variety of ways, depending on the style of your home and your budget.  The more affluent among us may hire an architect to design the wheelchair ramp installation to ensure it blends in with the aesthetic of the home.  

I believe that such an addition would increase the value of the home and makes me wonder why more homes are not built from the ground up with wheelchair/scooter type access ramps included; it would undoubtedly increase the appeal of a home when it comes time to sell.   After all, there are undoubtedly many wealthy people out there who have only recently encountered the need to modify their existing home or purchase a home that already has wheelchair/scooter/walker access ramps built in.

You’ve probably seen some beautifully crafted custom designed timber wheelchair ramps and rails, just like me.   They provide a stunning access option to a home that can be seamlessly integrated into the original home structure.   You can also buy portable fibreglass and carbon fibre ramps, which are both strong and lightweight. Anti-slip/grip enhancing surfaces and raised edges are standard features on these types of ramps. This access ramp option is popular when commissioning a permanent ramp is either impractical or prohibitively expensive.

Access ramps made of aluminium are also very popular because they are typically of high quality, lightweight, and strong.     Access ramps made of aluminium are suitable for mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs and can be made to your specifications.  Aluminium wheelchair access ramps can be either a fixed or portable fixture.

Before installing a ramp, the user and the users needs are the first thing you should take into account. You need to know what type of mobility aid/equipment will be used on the ramp now and possibly in the future. The engineering calculations & other build criteria will be influenced by the total weight and dimensions of the machinery that will be using the ramp.   For instance, will the access ramp need to be strong enough to a couple that are both using mobility scooters?  Will there be a need for the ramp to support the weight of 2 large mobility scooters at the one time?

Making a decision on the type of ramp to use ahead of time can save you a lot of money in the long run.    Building a future-proof ramp now is preferable to building a more robust construction ramp in 5 years.   Another consideration is where you want to place the ramp.   When planning the ramp to be installed at the front, back, or side entrances of your home, consider the area around the specific entrance/exit point to determine whether a straight ramp, a 90-degree ramp, or a switchback ramp will be required.

Make your home major storm safe

make your home major storm safe

I’m not sure if it’s just me, but the frequency and ferocity of cyclones and tornadoes seems to be increasing year after year.   With that in mind, I suppose the best thing we can ever do is prepare for the worst-case scenario.   When a cyclone or tornado is approaching, the only thing that matters is our safety.   The cost of fully preparing and securing your home is an investment in your future, not an expense.   There are numerous things we can do to prepare for these potentially disastrous and usually very dangerous storm events.

Tree trimming is a fairly routine task that should be done on a regular basis if you live in an area prone to cyclones or tornadoes.   When tree limbs break off in 300km+ winds, they become a missile, smashing through or tearing a hole in your windows or roof as if they were made of paper mache in the most extreme cases.   When this occurs, there is usually additional damage to the inside of your home.   Familiarise yourself with how to turn off the gas, water, and electricity before a cyclone or tornado hits your home.   At the very least, if you’ve turned off all of your services at the mains, you won’t be exposed to any additional risks if and when damage occurs downstream of those points.   Don’t leave items in your yard that can be converted into lethal flying objects by astronomically strong winds.  Tie down any items that cannot be safely stored away.   Certified anchor points and tie downs can be used to secure sheds in place.   If you haven’t already, consider getting a quote for work as soon as possible.   

Strengthen your home’s weak points with reinforcing materials and structures.   Install protection equipment such as storm shutters on windows and various types of protection screens to protect externally protruding air conditioning or evaporative air cooling units.   To protect your garage roller doors from dangerous storm events, consider installing storm shields/doors that can close in around the outside of them.   Get your roof inspected on a regular basis and repaired as needed to keep it storm-ready.

Uneven concrete or paved surfaces can be dangerous

Repair uneven concrete surfaces-1

Uneven concrete surfaces can cause nasty trips or falls, which can result in devastating bad injuries for the elderly.   All too often, we’ll notice uneven concrete surfaces and think to ourselves that we really should get that fixed one day.   The only problem is that you have no idea how or why the concrete has become uneven, and as a result, you have no idea how badly this will progress over time if you do not act quickly.

Whether you’ve discovered this hazardous situation on your driveway or along a footpath that runs down the side of your house at your outdoor entertainment area, these hazards should be addressed as soon as possible.   Aside from the pain and suffering you or a family member may experience as a result of tripping over these hazards, the last thing you probably want from a visitor to your home is for them to sue you because they tripped, fell and badly hurt themselves.   You end up being exposed legally from failing to fix a known dangerous trip hazard.

There are a few options for repairing uneven concrete at home.   In the worst-case scenario, you may have to replace the uneven slabs.  It’s an expensive option, but it’s sometimes unavoidable.   The old concrete will be broken up and hauled away, and new slabs will be poured to sit evenly with your old concrete. You’ll need to avoid that area for about a month while it hardens completely.

There’s a chance you’ll be able to level the uneven slabs that have sunk down on one side by lifting them.  Concrete levelling is the process by which contractors drill holes in specific areas of the slab and then inject a special compound such as polyurethane foam or stone slurry grout into the ground beneath the slab, slowly lifting the slab up as the compound fills up the area beneath.  It will eventually lift the problem area of the slab enough for it to sit comfortably in place even with the rest of the concreted areas.   The compound will harden over time and become a very strong new foundation for the slab to sit on.

If the concrete is only slightly uneven, a quick and easy way to eliminate trip hazards is to grind down the affected area until it is in line with the adjacent slabs and safe.   This is done with a concrete grinder, which is an abrasive tool with a diamond attachment.   The concrete grinder will level and flatten the problem surfaces, and if you’re lucky, you can have the problem resolved on the same day you notice it.  You will notice where concrete grinding has occurred, and because it exposes the pores of the concrete to the elements and thins it out slightly, there may be additional issues with that concrete later on.   However, the concrete grinding does not address any underlying issues. For example, if a tree root is pushing up under the slab and the tree is relatively young, you can almost guarantee that this situation will be revisited in the future.   

The best thing you can do, in my opinion, is to properly analyse the situation and develop a plan that keeps you safe today and may include more extensive and expensive work later on, but at the very least you will have the opportunity to rehash your budget and save up for the larger job later on.

How to avoid slipping on wet bathroom floors

Avoid slipping on wet bathroom floors

No matter your age, slippery bathroom floors are a nightmare.   You wouldn’t want even your worst enemy to slip and fall as they exit the shower and onto the wet bathroom floor.   The problem can be made worse by the soapiness of the water on the floor and the smoothness of the tiled surfaces. Unfortunately, this hazard is all too common in bathrooms.  While we frequently have the shower recess floor finished to a non-slip standard, occasionally we forget or don’t fully understand the importance of having the bathroom floor treated similarly.

There are numerous ways to make your bathroom less slippery and protect yourself and your loved ones from harm.   Although tiled bathroom floors look lovely, they must be coated with an anti-slip material or covered with non-slip mats.   The simplest and least expensive way to prevent slipping on a wet bathroom floor is to get a few anti-slip mats.  However, it’s unlikely that you’ll be covering the entire bathroom floor and completely protecting yourself unless you’re purchasing a sizable number of them.

The best and most durable solution is to have a professional apply an anti-slip compound or treatment to your tiles. This solution covers the entire bathroom floor surface and is long-lasting.   Floor grip mats, which are typically made of rubber, vinyl, or plastic, do help prevent trips and slips in the bathroom.   Floor grip mats typically have a lot of suction cups on the underside that adhere to the bathroom floor surface.  These mats typically have a textured finish on top, which gives you a lot of grip so you can stand safely.  

 

In my opinion, floor grip mats should be used as a doubly sure method to ensure safety in the bathroom, even if your tiled bathroom floor surface has an anti-slip treatment. They are a low-cost, straightforward way to prevent slipping on a wet bathroom floor and are incredibly effective.

Consider purchasing a walk in bathtub

consider purchasing a walk in bathtub for safety

If you are like a lot of senior people I know, at some point you stop loving the idea of trying to either get in or out of a traditional bath tub due to safety reasons.   Although there’s nothing quite like relaxing in a warm bath after a hard day, if your current health, strength or mobility situation makes the standard bath situation a no-go zone, then this can be disappointing.

However, You might be pleasantly surprised that traditional bathtubs are not where the bath possibilities stop for those aged over 70 years old.

The reason I say this is because you can now purchase and have installed an incredibly awesome walk-in bath tub.  You are not dreaming, this is real and they are amazing.   Walk-in tubs feature an access door and a seat.  This is what makes them safe.   You enter the walk-in tub through the door, sit on the seat, close the door and then fill it up with beautiful warm water.

Walk-in bath tubs should have been around many years ago in my opinion, it’s not as though the design is space age.   Walk-in tubs are like a mini spa that is designed for one person and can fit neatly inside a person’s bathroom.  Ok, I might be understating the design aspects of the walk-in tub somewhat but it’s purely out of frustration for people in the past.

Why it that we could build is rockets to fly to the moon but not conceive the importance of a walk-in bath tub for seniors back in the 1970’s?

  Walk-in bath tubs are amazing and the market for these things is probably not limited to only those over 70 years of age.  The incredibly safe design, the way they lessen the strain on our body and make it incredibly easy to have a proper bath, not matter your age, makes walk-in tubs something that should be standard for all homes.   For my mind, each new home built beyond today should have a normal bath tub, a walk-in bath tub and a shower.

Making your shower a safe place

Making your shower a safer place

Stepping into and out of a shower can be hazardous for seniors who have mobility, leg strength/stability, or balance issues.  You should at the very least have the shower recess floor treated with a non-slip compound/treatment.   By placing a non-slip mat on the shower floor, you can add another layer of slip prevention to the showering experience.

In the shower, a flexible handheld shower wand reduces unnecessary movement.  The traditional shower requires you to move around in the shower to get clean, whereas the shower wand requires you to stand still and let the wand do all of the work.   There is less risk of slipping and less strain on your body because there is less movement.   They usually have gentler spray patterns and this is great for people with sensitive paper thin skin.

Install a shower water thermostat that has a lower temperature output.   Some countries have plumbing regulations that require a maximum temperature of 50 degrees Celsius for each shower, basin, or bath outlet in the home, but there’s no reason you can’t have a thermostat dedicated to the shower turned down to ensure only lower temperature water gets through to avoid and trouble due to your skin sensitivity.

A shower seat is also a good idea because some people find it difficult to stand and maintain balance in the shower for long periods of time.   By purchasing and installing a shower seat, you eliminate the need to stand in the shower for any longer than necessary. The shower seat can reduce the risk of a shower fall by preserving your leg strength.

 

Grab bars are well-known for assisting people in staying upright in potentially slippery, commonly wet areas of the home such as the bathroom and in particular the shower recess.   Grab bars offer safety by providing something secure to grab onto and maintain your balance and sturdiness when entering and exiting the shower.

Dealing with slippery moss on your outside concrete

Dealing with slippery moss on your concrete

Moss on concrete paths and entertainment areas around your home not only looks bad, but it can also be a dangerous slip and trip hazard.   Baking soda sprinkled over the moss-covered area works well, but only on dry hot days.   After covering the affected area with baking soda, leave it for 20-28 hours before sweeping away what remains the next day. 

Pressure washers are one of the quickest ways to remove moss from concrete surfaces. The high-pressure water simply blasts away the bothersome moss and dirt, leaving your concrete clean and much safer to walk on.

You could also try the age-old method of pouring boiling hot water over the mossy area.   Naturally, you must exercise extreme caution to avoid burning yourself in the process.   Boiling water alone will not do the trick; you will need to scrub the area with a stiff brush/broom to remove all of it, and then hose off the area once you’re finished to leave it clean.

If you have stubborn moss marks on your concrete after cleaning it, use a spray bottle to clean them off with a 50/50 white vinegar/water solution.   It is very effective at removing problematic moss stains on concrete and is very cost effective.

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