In the Know column: Tips for staying safe at home – Alexandria Echo Press

After a couple of days duck hunting, my body reminded me that I was over 50. Sludging through knee-deep muck in waders will do that for a person. (The mailings I receive from AARP are also a steady reminder that I passed that milestone…a while ago). While I was enjoying the morning at the duck slough, I did spend a little time thinking about aging and some of the challenges that face our older population.

I don’t want to give the impression that people suddenly become vulnerable simply because they reach a certain age. However , being in the law enforcement profession for over 30 years, I know that older people can become more vulnerable to things that affect their safety but also, most safety advice applies to people of all ages.

People, especially after retirement, spend a lot of time at their homes. That makes home safety a high priority. It may be surprising but falling at home is one of the biggest threats to older peoples’ physical security. Falling and getting injured is a common call related to older people that is received by our 911 center. Unfortunately, an injury from a fall can change the particular course of a person’s life so the best thing to do is try to prevent them by keeping houses clear of obstructions and removing trip and slip hazards. Many slips and falls happen in the bathroom so grab bars and eliminating slippery rugs can make that will room safer. If a person needs a cane or walker to safely get around, it is important to use them while at home as well.

A cane can actually be a handy tool for self-defense if needed. Various forms of martial arts use sticks for self-defense, plus there is now training for people that need to make use of canes or walking sticks that is sometimes referred to as “Cane Fu. ” I watched the TV series “Kung Fu” as a kid, and David Carradine showed us that a walking stick can be an useful tool. Self-defense training in general is good for individuals of all ages. It promotes good physical and mental health and can give an individual a feeling of confidence.

Confidence, alertness plus awareness are all things that can prevent someone from being victimized. Walking with our head up and making eye contact with people we encounter can go a long way in preventing becoming victimized. We have to look down while walking to avoid trip and slip hazards, but many people today can be seen walking mind down looking at their phones. That obviously can lead to problems with tripping, bumping into other people, walking into traffic and many other hazards. It also makes it really easy for another person to grab plus steal the phone with the bonus of the phone being unlocked because it is in use. Paying attention to our own surroundings is always important.


Several things can be done at home to make our surroundings safer. Just like in the house, make your yard safe through trip risks and also remove objects that cut down visibility from the house to the outside. Outdoor lighting and motion-sensor lighting are deterrents for people that may be considering your residence as a target. Having great locks and using them prevents some crimes. Lock everything: house, vehicles, garage and outbuildings. It is a good practice to lock your house plus vehicle even while you are inside them. The noise and effort of breaking glass or even breaking the door open is enough in order to deter some criminals. Dogs can also be a deterrent and are one of the least favorite things for these types of people. Canines barking alert people, and no one likes the thought of getting bit. Unfortunately, pets can also be a trip hazard and cost money, so they are not the best option for everyone.

Home security systems are great protection tools too. Cameras and alarms deter crooks plus camera systems can help identify them as well. Camera and alarm techniques that send alerts to your cell phone are very useful. There are many security systems available and many that are affordable for those with less income.

Having trusted people like friends, relatives or neighbors in our lives is always helpful. Having others looking out for us, our property and our best interests is good for people associated with any age. As people age and become less mobile, having individuals help with some chores may prevent drops and injuries. For me, having a son that will also likes to duck hunt, means less sludging through the muck in my future!

Troy Wolbersen is the Douglas County sheriff. “In the Know” is really a rotating line written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.

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