Do-It-Yourself Project:

Home Safety Tips and Tools

Time Needed:
Less Than 2 Hours
Skills Needed:
No special skills required
Health & Wellness, Seniors, Emergency & Safety
Project Categories:
Family Friendly, Indoors
Created By:

Create the Good


One of the most common problems people face, including your friends and neighbors, is living in a home that has become uncomfortable, unsafe, and no longer matches their needs or abilities.

It doesn’t have to be this way! Homes can be updated, often in easy and inexpensive ways that make them more suitable for all residents. Simple, easy-to-do home improvements can go a long way in helping someone remain safe and comfortable in their home. By following the checklists which contain simple improvements, you’ll make your friends’ and neighbors’ everyday lives easier.

In an hour or so you can use this guide to help your neighbors use a simple checklist of no-cost and low-cost home improvements. Actually doing the updates can be as quick as installing a higher-wattage light bulb – a simple change that can help someone maintain his or her independence at home.

Eighty-nine percent of Americans 45+ have told AARP they want to stay in their current home and community as they grow older.

Great Reasons to Do This Project

  • You'll get the satisfaction of knowing you've helped your friends and neighbors stay safe and comfortable in their homes.
  • You might keep a friend or neighbor from having to move.
  • You'll learn safety tips you could apply to your home.
  • Your involvement will make a difference in another person's life.


Call a friend or neighbor who might be interested in some help to make their home safer and more comfortable. Those that could benefit from this help include seniors, those with small children and pets, and/or people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs.

Schedule a quick safety walk-through and review the No-Cost/Low-Cost Home Safety Checklist with the resident. Do as many of the no-cost changes as the resident is comfortable making. Offer to review the rest of the list so that they can think about whether or not other improvements are necessary.

Leave a copy of the No Cost/Low Cost Home Safety checklist with the home owner so that s/he has time to reflect and consider more ideas for making her/his home safer and more comfortable.

Remember, you can always print additional copies of the checklist at and distribute them to other friends and neighbors. You may also want to consider taking FEMA's IS-909 free online training, which includes a module on building a personal support network.


Remember: Whether you’ve got five minutes, five hours or five days, you can make a positive impact in your community. And if you have more time, consider organizing another service activity, finding local opportunities and posting your events at


No-Cost/Low-Cost Home Safety Checklist
Whether you own or rent your home, there are many no-cost or low-cost improvements you can make to greatly increase its comfort and safety. Discover how simple updates can make it easier for you to stay comfortable, independent, and injury-free. Begin with this checklist of things you can do quickly and easily for little to no cost.

No-Cost Home Improvements

  • Open blinds and curtains and raise shades during daylight hours to increase natural light inside the home.
  • Place exposed electrical, telephone, and computer cords along a wall where people won’t trip over them.
  • Remove all cords from under furniture or carpeting to lessen the risk of fire.
  • Remove clutter from stairways and passageways to help prevent trips and falls.
  • Set the hot-water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce energy costs and prevent scalding.
  • Remove all scatter and throw rugs that can cause falls.
  • Place the items you frequently use in an easily accessible place.
  • Check the carpeting on your stairs to be sure it is firmly attached.
  • Arrange furniture to allow for easy passage.
  • Create an emergency exit plan in case of a fire.
  • Remove debris from outdoor walkways.
  • Trim shrubbery to provide a clear view from doors and windows.
  • Move any flammable liquids such as gasoline, cleaning products, and paint thinner away from the home. Be sure they are stored in secure, labeled containers.

For a training tool on low/no-cost home safety steps, visit FEMA's Home Safe Home Guide. Learn more about home fire safety planning and prevention at

Low-Cost Home Improvements (With Products Costing Under $35)

  • The products mentioned below can be purchased at your local hardware or home-improvement store.
  • Increase light by using the highest-watt light bulbs or compact-fluorescent bulbs appropriate for your light fixtures or lamps.
  • Put night-lights in the bathroom and in hallways leading from the bedroom to the bathroom.
  • Use a rubber-suction bath mat or anti-slip floor strips or decals in the tub or shower.
  • Place self-stick carpet mesh or double-sided carpet tape under large area rugs to prevent them from sliding.
  • Replace knobs on cabinets and drawers with easy-to-grip D-shaped handles.
  • Replace traditional light switches with easy-to-use, rocker-style light switches.
  • Place or mount an A-B-C rated, all-purpose fire extinguisher in an easily accessible location near the stove and oven so that you’re prepared for any type of kitchen fire. As a general rule, there should be 1 fire extinguisher on each floor of the home.
  • Install smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors on all levels of the house, especially where the bedrooms are. For more information about smoke detectors and home fire safety, check out
  • If needed, replace any fraying or worn extension and appliance cords. Be sure they are rated for the electrical load needed by the given device.

Home Improvements (With Products Costing Under $75)

  • Most of the products mentioned here can be purchased at your local hardware or home-improvement store.
  • Install a handrail on both sides of any staircase so you can stay steady on your feet. *
  • Install easy-to-grip lever door handles on all doors instead of doorknobs.
  • Install a handheld adjustable showerhead for easier bathing.
  • Install user-friendly lever handle faucets in your sinks and in tubs or showers. Some faucets even include built-in anti-scald protection.
  • Place a sturdy bathtub or shower seat in the tub and/or shower for comfort and safety.
  • Mount grab-bars next to the toilet and bathtub and in the shower for help getting up or down.*
  • Install offset hinges on all doors to add 2 inches of width for wheelchair access, if needed.*
  • Install a security peephole on exterior doors at a height that’s right for you, so you can identify the person wanting to enter.*
  • Install photosensitive porch or entryway lighting that will come on at dusk and turn off at dawn. A light-switch timer can also be installed on interior switches for exterior porch or post lights.*
  • Install outdoor floodlights that switch on by motion sensors, to light your way and to deter burglars.*

* These items may best be installed by a professional.

Learn More

“The Home Fit Guide” is available online and includes information and tips to keep your home in top form for comfort and safety. Visit for this publication and more.

AARP’s Create The Good encourages everyone to make a difference in the lives of others. Share your experiences with “Home Safety Tips and Tools” by emailing, and find other ways to help in your community at


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