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Home Safety and Fall Prevention


Oxygen Safety In The Home

Oxygen and fire are a dangerous combination. Oxygen will cause a fire to burn hotter and faster
than it normally would.

  • Never smoke while using oxygen.
  • No open flames or smoking are allowed within 10 feet of oxygen.
  • Keep oxygen at least 10 feet away from open flames or areas that may have sparks (gas, wood, or electric stove, fireplaces, candles, electric heater, lit cigarettes)
  • Do not use petroleum-based lubricants (Vaseline) near oxygen.
  • Oxygen is a drug and must be administered as ordered. Use oxygen only at prescribed amounts.
  • Make sure that the oxygen tank is in an approved stand to prevent rolling or accidental falling, and that unused cylinders are stored lying flat. The oxygen in these tanks is under high pressure. If the tank falls over and the valve stem breaks, the pressure is released, causing the tank to be propelled like a projectile.
  • Store oxygen tanks away from direct sunlight or heat.
  • Keep oxygen concentrators away from walls to allow for adequate air return.
  • Oxygen concentrators should be plugged into a grounded electrical outlet.
  • Patients should contact their oxygen supply company if they have questions or problems with their oxygen equipment.

Fire Safety

  • Evacuation of a bed-bound patient: One or two persons can get the patient to safety by placing the patient on a sturdy blanket and pulling or dragging them out of the home.
  • Fire regulations recommend at least one smoke detector on every level of the home.
  • Patients should develop an evacuation plan and practice evacuation in the event of fire.
  • Family members who are non-ambulatory or require assistance should be evacuated first.
  • Establish clear pathways to all exits. Do not block exits with furniture or boxes.
  • Have keys accessible near locked doors.
  • Do not leave cooking unattended for extended periods of time.
  • Chimneys should be inspected annually to avoid dangerous buildup of creosote.
  • Kerosene heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces should not be left unattended while in use.

Electrical Safety

Failure to follow these safety standards can cause fire.

  • Electrical cords should not be placed beneath furniture, carpeting, or rugs.
  • Frayed cords should be replaced.
  • Extension cords should not be overloaded (Check rating label on cords and appliances).
  • Multiple outlet adapters should not be used in electrical outlets.

Fall Prevention

  • Stairways and halls should be well-lit.
  • Use lights in bathroom, halls, and passageways.
  • Loose rugs, runners, and mats should be secured with double-sided adhesive or rubber matting.
  • Carpet edges should be tacked down.
  • Torn or frayed carpeting should be repaired, replaced, or removed.
  • Cupboards should be organized with frequently used items on lower shelves.
  • Heavy items should be stored on lower levels of a closet.
  • Avoid reaching for items on high shelves.


  • Patients should have at least one phone in an area that will be accessible if an accident leaves them unable to stand.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers near phones.

Bed Safety

  • Observe bed-confined patients often.
  • Keep hospital beds in the lowest position with the wheels locked.
  • Anticipate the patient’s needs and meet needs by offering food, fluids, scheduling ample toileting, and providing calming interventions and pain relief.
  • Reduce the gaps between the mattress and side rails to prevent the patient from being caught, entrapped, or suffocated. Use the correct size mattress, bed rail netting, clear padding, Velcro mats, or foam blocks.
  • Observe overlay air mattresses for “ramp” effect as the mattress compresses with the patient’s weight, causing the patient to fall off the bed, against the bed rail, or become lodged in the space between the mattress and the rail.
  • In the event of electrical power outage, remove patients from low air loss mattresses and place them on mattress type surface.


  • Tub and shower should have textured surface, nonskid mats, or strips to avoid falls.
  • Grab bars to assist transfers may be installed in tub, shower, and toilet area.
  • The water temperature should be checked before entering a tub or shower.
  • Night-lights should be used in the bathroom.

Stairs, Hallways, And Passageways

  • Stairs, hallways, and passageways should be well-lit and free of clutter.
  • Stairs should have sturdy, well-secured handrails on both sides.
  • Avoid using stairs while wearing only socks or smooth-soled shoes.

Basement or Garage

  • Always use correct size fuses.
  • Gasoline, paints, solvents, or other such products should be stored in covered containers away from furnace, heater, water heater, ranges, or other appliances.
  • Spills should be cleaned up promptly.
  • Old newspapers and cleaning cloths should not be stockpiled.


  • Entranceways should be clear of leaves, snow, and ice.
  • Sidewalks should be even and intact (No loose stones or gravel).


Poisoning First Aid

  • Call 911 or the local emergency number if a person is having trouble breathing, will not wake up, or has a seizure.
  • If not an immediate emergency, call the Virginia Poison Center at 800.222.1222 for medical advice, poison, and drug information.

Weather Conditions

  • During the snow and ice season, we will make every effort to continue home care visits, but the safety of our staff must be considered. When roads are too dangerous to travel, our staff will, if possible, contact patients by phone to let them know that they are unable to make visits that day.


In The Event Of a Disaster

  • Mary Washington Home Health has an emergency plan to continue necessary patient services in cases of environmental/natural disaster (earthquake, blizzard, flood) or emergencies. Every possible effort will be made to ensure that your medical needs are met.
  • Seek assistance through your local 911 system for essential care if your nurse is unable to get to your home or contact you by phone.


  • Turn on a radio or television and follow directions given by the authorities. Radio station WFLS 93.3 FM carries local announcements.
  • Keep emergency supplies on hand (e.g., flashlight, batteries).
  • Anticipate the need for medical supplies and notify the staff.
  • Keep medications at easy access.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers near telephone.
  • Learn how to connect or start a backup power supply for essential medical equipment.
  • Patients should register with their local utility so electricity can be restored on a priority basis for medical equipment.

Alert Notifications

Alert Notification Systems were created to IMMEDIATELY ALERT of major events, river flooding,
weather watches & warnings, or for any other situation that warrants the need for mass notification.
State, local city and counties have created Alert Notification Systems to deliver important emergency
alerts, notifications and updates on all devices: email accounts (work, home, other), cell phone (text
and/or voice), office phones and home phones.

Fredericksburg City
601 Caroline Street, Suite 700; Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401
To sign up: CALL 540.372.1059 or

Spotsylvania County
9119 Dean Ridings Lane, Room 2270; Spotsylvania, VA 22553
To sign up: CALL 540.372.1059 or

Stafford County
1225 Courthouse Road; Stafford, VA 22554
To sign up: CALL 540.658.4419 or

Caroline County
233 West Broaddus Avenue; Bowling Green, VA 22427
To sign up: CALL 804.633.9831 or

King George County
8122 Kings Highway; King George, VA 22485
To sign up: CALL 540.372.1090 or

Fauquier County
62 Culpeper Street; Warrenton, VA 20186
To sign up: CALL 540.422.8800 or

Orange County
112 W Main St; Orange, VA 22960
To sign up: CALL 540.672.1234 or

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