Safety in the home is the most important in our daily lives. People with all abilities i.e. normal are also plans for any unplanned events that can occur and will plan for safety and comfort in their homes. Home safety is of more concerns for the people with disabilities and mobility impairments.
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There are many ways which of taken care will cater to the safety of occupants. By adding extra safety features & by doing a modification of home, we can add extra safety for the disabled member of our family.
Here are some tips to achieve extra safety in home particularly for physically challenged:
Ramps & Stairways:
The ratio for the inside and outside ramp should be minimum (i.e. vehicle is 12 horizontal)1:12. Ramp steeper than this may cause problems for people with a wheelchair or to those with limited mobility. The ramp surface should be nonslippery. For wooden ramps, it can be done with nonskid deck paint, and for concrete ramps, a rough or broom finish should be done. Handrails on both sides should be done, and extra free space for extra objects should be provided. Make sure that handrails are installed in the correct way.
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Handrails should withstand and support minimum 250 pounds (110 Kg). It should be placed about one and a half inches(40mm) from the walls so people can easily grasp them.
In the case of stairways, the size of tread and riser should be of proper size. Minimum riser height should be of 6″(150mm) and tread should be enough to rest your feet, so that does not extend beyond the edge of tread including when you are carrying shoes. There should be a good staircase lighting; this means that there should be no glare or shadow.
Toilet & Bathrooms:
People who use wheelchairs or walkers need bathroom doorways that are at least 1200 mm wide. The door should be open towards outside so people with wheelchairs or walker can easily get into it. Door for the disable people should be open outside so they can easily get inside.
People with limited mobility or have problem in balancing themselves may find it hard to transfer from walker or wheelchairs to bathtub, to help them one should add:
- Grab bars
- Transfer seats
- Nonslip tub mats
- Bench that extends outside the bathtub
- Swivel style shower
- Roll in shower
Here are more ways to make bathrooms accessible to people with disabilities:
- Washbasins, toilets and shelves can be raised or lowered at the different heights as per the requirements.
- Faucets with sensors or lever type faucets should be installed for the people who have trouble in grasping with their hands.
- Toilet flush extensions and toilet paper clamps for the people with upper limb loss.
- Anti scald temperature controls for the people with little feeling in their fingers or toe.
Kitchens more often the most used space in a home regularly. They also can be the most dangerous. Make sure your kitchen meets your needs as well as comfort. Wheelchair users and others with limited mobility should be able to move around in ways that are comfortable and safe.
Measure the wheelchair from front to back plus footrest, know the turning radius. Most wheelchair armrests are 30″ (750mm) from the ground. This is important for the counter design. The height of the counters is generally 700-900mm from ground. There should be enough knee space under the counters for wheelchair users. Make sure this space gives you enough height and depth for a knee to toe clearance. Knee space should be around 27″ (650mm) high, 30″ (750mm) wide and 19″ (475mm) deep.
Platform for stove should consist of 28″ (710mm) high, so you can see what is there inside the pot. You can also add pot filler on the stove top; it will allow you to add water during cooking. So, one need not carry filled pots from sink to stove. Kitchen sink should be shallow and equipped with a single lever faucet. The depth of the sink should be 125-150mm. A sprayer or long hose can help when filling pots with water.
Place oven, refrigerator and ovens at useful heights. People who have trouble in bending may want dishwasher high, so it will be easy for them to load it.
Here are more ways to make kitchen accessible to people with disabilities:
- Adjustable countertops
- Tall stool or adjustable chair
- Support on countertop to stand the one more securely.
- Wall ovens
- Suspension systems that make it easier to pull out drawers with heavy items.
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There are of course some of the basic things needs attention while designing. In fact, each and every corners and element of the house need special care when you design for physically challenged.