By doing a few simple home up-grades on overlooked items it will lessen the burden later. To live safer and healthier use natural bio-based renewable materials to remodel your home. Plus, you will be saving energy while doing your part to leave a positive impact on the environment.
Well, let’s explore your home. What easy, environmental, and cost-effective adjustments can be made now to help make your home barrier-free for the future?
Cecil Fox, Special Assistant to the President/ CEO of Chimes, a provider of services to people with disabilities and seniors, says, “the purpose of having a barrier-free home is to make the house as accessible as possible for every individual that enters. It is also important to have the house match the environment of the rest of the neighborhood as much as possible inside and out.”
Let’s Get Started
Before anything else the outside must be addressed. Look around the house for loose gravel, uneven ground, or areas that typically gather leaves and water. This can become an obstacle caused by improper drainage. To solve this problem simply redirect your drainage system by using pipes to an area where people do not travel frequently. If ground problems still occur then use erosion protection made out of natural-fibers that are biodegradable, which will add additional green benefits.
Once that problem is tackled the porch can now be looked at. The threshold of the door is often overlooked as a possible problem, yet the solution is quick and affordable. By inserting a rubber ramp under the door it allows an accessible entrance. The best solution is a ramp made from recycled-tire rubber because this material is very durable and slip-resistant.
Find out measurements before going to the store to ensure an exact fit that will allow the ramp to become an extension of the doorway.
A commonly overlooked obstacle is the doorknob. Most open a door without much thought. But, this might become a challenge because of the difficulty of gripping a small object. A simple fix is to replace the doorknobs outside and inside the house with lever door handles. Lever door handles make entry a lot easier and less challenging for little cost to you.
Sometimes because of rain or snow on your shoes floors become wet. This water normally ends up sitting on your tile or laminate flooring in the foyer. When this area becomes slippery it can cause a serious injury if not addressed. Put down a non-slick material that will become an adhesive to the floor. Using a recycled plastic that has an open-weave texture helps eliminate wet areas and adds a design element to your house. This material can also be used on any surface in the house where a hard floor poses a barrier.
You do not want to use a rug or mat to try and solve this problem. They can also become an obstacle. Rugs and mats cause a tripping hazard if not secured down properly.
It is important to keep in mind as you go room to room that the doorway itself can pose a challenge. According to Independent Living, “most standard doorways are 28, 30, 32, and 34 inches wide, but the minimum requirement for a wheelchair is 30 inches wide.” So, instead of replacing the whole doorway use a wrap-around hinge, which allows the door to open wider than the frame.
The most multi-purpose room in the house is the kitchen, so adjustments should be made to fit multiple abilities. Sometimes the most challenging thing is not being able to reach. To increase your chance of finding everything in a quick and easy manner install rotating and pullout shelves. These shelves operate on a single pole with one end of the shelf attached to allow access to the items.
While shopping for shelves ask a store associate if the shelves have a low volatile organic compound (VOC). VOC is used like a solvent to finish most cabinets and shelves; and is used in paint, adhesives, and cleaners. Ultimately the solvent gives off gases that reach throughout your house. Another green alternative to standard cabinets is to place wheat board, a renewable material, on a wall to hang pots and pans for reachable convenience.
This room is normally high functioning for storage space of clothes and other miscellaneous items, so access to these areas should not become a barrier in the future. Let’s take a look at your closet. By up-grading your closet with multiple layer rods and shelves it will give access at every height. A bamboo-clothing rod is a strong durable solution that improves your health by releasing 35% more oxygen than other hardwoods while providing antioxidant properties that prevent bacterial growth.
The last room needs the most repairs and attention because most accidents in the home happen in the bathroom. A major concern is the shower and the temperature controls. It is very possible to accidentally turn the water on too hot and be scalded. Fox comments that in every barrier-free home that Chimes owns and operates for their residents a temperature lock is installed. She recommends placing a lock that stops the water from passing 110 degrees, which will decrease the chance of serious injury.
While examining the shower let’s also look at the showerhead. Be smart and install a hand-held showerhead for future limitations. When shopping for a showerhead look for one that uses low energy to help reduce the amount of power used throughout the house. This will ultimately lower energy bills. The Building Green Product Directory recommends a showerhead that has a “flow of 1.75 gallons per minute or less, well below the federal standard of 2.5 gallons per minute.”
Lastly, around the bathroom grab bars should be mounted to lower the risk of a possible fall.
So, head out to the store!
It is important to plan for your future in many different ways, but making your home a safe and accessible place should be priority. Also, remember by using green solutions you are being a conscious consumer while improving your home.
“Our ability to change the course of the earth’s demise is a staggering responsibility and one that we must address urgently and efficiently,” reports Brad A. Bobbitt, a representative of AmSan Eagle Maintenance a company dedicated in providing green cleaning and equipment solutions to customers.
All the repairs mentioned can be done by one stop to your local hardware store and help from a store associate. It is important to keep in mind that some offered solutions might not be suitable for you, but become creative and resourceful.
Megan Purpora writes about lifestyle and technology issues for individuals with disabilities.
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