Senior Safety Guide

Senior Safety Guide
You can view our Senior Safety Guide online using the links below:

Did You Know….

  • 1 in 3 older adults fall each year.
  • Women are hospitalized for falls more often than men.
  • Older adults in Northwestern Ontario fall more often than older adults in the rest of the province.
  • Most falls happen at home. You can reduce your risk of falling by staying healthy and keeping your home safe.

You can reduce your risks by...

  • Taking part in regular physical activity such as walking, balance and strengthening exercises.
  • Having proper lighting and handrails on stairs.
  • Removing throw rugs from your home.
  • Installing grab bars in your tub and shower.
  • Using a stable step stool with a safety rail/handle bar to reach high objects. It is best to avoid climbing. If possible, ask somebody else to get the object for you.
  • Eating at least 3 meals per day.
  • Having at least 3 servings of milk or milk products per day.
  • Talking to your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions with the medications that you are currently taking.

Prevent Yourself from Falling by...
Staying Active

  • The best way to prevent falls is by keeping active and staying fit.
  • Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
  • Regular exercise can help improve your balance and bone strength. Chair-based exercises, stretching and walking are good examples. Try to walk every day, even if it’s just around the house or apartment.

Reducing the Hazards in Your Home

  • Get rid of throw rugs and area rugs, unless they are taped down with 2-sided tape.
  • Keep everyday things within reach so you don’t have to climb.
  • Make sure hallways and stairs are well-lit. Keep pathways free of clutter.
  • Install grab bars and non-slip surfaces in the bathroom and railings on the stairs.

Eating Well

  • Have small meals and snacks throughout the day. Missing meals can lead to dizziness and weakness. Missed meals can also affect the medication you are taking.
  • Aim for 3 servings of milk and/or milk products per day. If consuming milk or milk products is difficult for you, talk to a dietician about other ways to get calcium in your diet.
  • Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about calcium and Vitamin D supplements to prevent bone loss.

Knowing Your Medications

  • Talk to your pharmacist about potential hazards and interactions of some medications.
  • Some prescription and non-prescription drugs can affect balance and coordination.
  • Avoid mixing alcohol with medication.

Having Your Vision and Hearing Checked Regularly

  • If you need glasses or a hearing aid, wear them.
  • Be sure to wear the right glasses at the right time (wearing reading glasses while walking could be dangerous).
  • The ability to see clearly with good depth perception will help prevent falls.
  • If a person suspects they have hearing loss, an appointment should be made with the local audiologist to have a hearing test.

Prescription and Medication Safety

Never take any medication that has been prescribed for a friend or family member
Get prescriptions refilled far enough in advance to avoid running out of medication
  • Make sure your medications are clearly labeled and carefully follow the label instructions. Keep a current record book of your medications.
  • Review all your medications with your doctor or pharmacist at least once a year or when you start taking a new medication. This includes all prescription medications, non-prescription medications, herbal medications, dietary supplements and any other type of medication. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or pharmacist questions.
  • Take medications at the proper time. Keep a record of the medications you are taking and organize your medication schedule. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about dossettes and blisterpaks for your medications.
  • Never take medication in the dark. Turn on the light to ensure you have the right medication and are taking the correct dose.
  • Never take more medication than prescribed. Taking twice as much never eans that you will get better twice as fast.
  • The combination of alcohol and medication can have serious onsequences. Check with your doctor or harmacist.
  • Know what your medications look like. If a refill f a prescription looks different than before, consult our pharmacist or doctor to make sure it is the orrect medication.
  • Store your medications in a cool, dry place, away from bright light. Don’t keep our medications in the bathroom.
  • For your safety, return old medications you are no longer using or medications hat are outdated to your local pharmacy.

 Your Medications Could Be a hazard to your Grandchildren

Prescriptions for older adults are some of the most toxic medications, posing the greatest threat of a tragic outcome if swallowed by a child. Even the most loving grandparents can put their grandchildren in danger when they unknowingly overlook simple precautions.

Avoid taking medications in front of young children, as they like to imitate
  • When visiting a home with young children, make sure medications in purses, bathroom kits, and suitcases are not available to children.
  • Be careful of medication dossettes, they help to organize medications, but most are not child resistant.
  • If young children visit your home, memember to keep medications and household chemicals locked or out of children’s reach.
  • Only give infants and children over-the-counter medications that are specially formulated for their age and weight.

Many childhood medication accidents involve their grandparent’s prescriptions. Keep your medications out of the reach of children.

Physical Health and Wellness
Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your physical and mental health. This will also help to improve your quality of life, as you get older.

  • Physical inactivity makes your body age faster. Independent living depends on being able to do the things you want to do when you want to do them. To stay independent you need to be able to reach, bend, lift, carry and move around easily.
  • You’re never too old to increase your level of physical activity. Most people say they gain strength endurance and flexibility by becoming more active. Almost immediately, many people notice they feel better and getting around is much easier.
  • If you have not been active, then start with activities you can easily build into your daily routine.
  • How much activity do I need? It is best to be active every day. Build physical activity into your daily routine. Try 30 to 60 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week to improve your health and fitness.
Some Activities to Choose From…
  • Walking or biking
  • Swimming
  • Gardening or working in your yard
  • Cross-country skiing or Curling
  • Skating
  • Join an exercise group
  • Golfing
  • Dancing
Benefits From Regular Physical Activity
  • Stronger muscles and bones
  • Better physical and mental health
  • Continued independent living
  • More energy
  • Move with fewer aches and pains
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Weight maintenance
  • Improved quality of life
  • Being active reduces the risk of:
    Heart disease
    Falls and injuries
    High blood pressure
    Adult-onset diabetes
    Colon cancer
    Premature death
  • Getting started is easier than you think. Build physical activity into your daily routine, by doing the activities you are doing now, but just more often. Walk wherever and whenever you can. Start slowly with easy stretching and move around frequently. Slowly add activities to your daily routine that you enjoy.

Food Safety

  • Shopping and cooking for one or two can be difficult. Here are
  • some ideas to help keep foods safe and waste less:
  • Foods don’t have to look or smell bad to be bad for you. If you’re not sure about
    how long a food has been in the fridge, freezer or cupboard, throw it out. Your body will thank you! Seniors should avoid eating raw or undercooked meat or eggs, raw shellfish, alfalfa sprouts, and any unpasteurized food or drinks.

    When in
    throw it

  • Wash hands and food preparation surfaces before and after each use with warm soapy water. Plastic cutting boards are easier to clean. Consider using paper towels to clean surfaces or wash towels often. Always wash any plate, pan, cutting board or container that was used with raw meat before using it for another purpose.
  • All food requiring cooking should be done thoroughly. Use a food thermometer to make sure foods have been properly cooked to a safe internal temperature.

    Keep hot
    foods hot ...
    and cold
    foods cold!

  • At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes. The more bacteria there are, the greater the chance you could become sick. Refrigerate foods quickly because cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from growing. Discard any perishable foods left at room temperature longer than two hours.
  • Never thaw foods at room temperature. You can safely thaw food in the refrigerator. Clean out your refrigerator and freezer on a regular basis and discard outdated food. If you freeze or refrigerate foods, don’t forget to write the date on the container or packaging. Foods kept too long can cause food poisoning.
  • Decide and plan what you’re going to have for the next few days or week. Use this plan to make a shopping list.


Mental Health and Wellness
Seniors and Stress

Everyone experiences stress at some point in life, including seniors. If you are not coping well, stress can have a negative effect on your body, emotions, thoughts and behaviours.

Stressors for Seniors:
  • Loss of independence
  • Loss of control over life
    and environment
  • Loss of spouse
  • Loss of relatives or close
    friends through death or
    social isolation
  • Retirement
  • Changes in financial status
    after retirement
  • Loss of sense of purpose
    and productivity
  • Loss of memory
  • Deterioration of physical
    abilities and chronic illness
  • Worrying about
  • What is Stress? Stress is experienced when a person is confronted with a difficult or
    unpleasant situation, is facing a major life change, or has expectations to meet.
  • Good Stress: We all need a certain amount of stress in our lives. If not, we feel bored, tired, and have no motivation. A good level of stress can bring excitement, happiness, motivation, and energy, especially if we feel we can cope with everyday stressors and take care of ourselves in a healthy way.
  • Stress becomes Distress, when too much happens too fast, or when we do not have
    the skills to cope effectively. Long-term stress greatly increases the risks for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, digestive problems, sleep disorders and depression.
  • What is Healthy Coping? Coping is a set of skills that helps us to deal with daily stressors and to avoid becoming unhealthy. Knowing how to cope does not come naturally to many of us. We have to learn how to cope, just like any other skill. Coping skills improve with practice.

For information on the District Mental Health Services for Older Adults Program call 807-274-9400 or toll free 1-888-813-6503

What are the signs and symptoms of STRESS?

headaches insomnia anxiety procrastination
withdrawal or isolation irritability loss of appetite weight loss
weight loss & overeating depression impatience indigestion
increased perspiration alcohol use drug use memory loss

10 Ways to Cope with Stress

  1. Share your feelings with supportive friends and family.
  2. Use relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, taking a warm bath, having a massage or reading a good book.

    Meet life’s
    challenges as
    they arise and have
    a healthy balance
    in your life.

  3. Regular exercise is one of the best stress remedies around. Take a walk, work on a hobby.
  4. Manage your time by doing the essential tasks first and prioritizing the others.
  5. Maintain a healthy diet and avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fats and tobacco.
  6. Get enough rest and sleep, take a cat nap once in awhile.
  7. Help others through volunteer work. There is always a group or service organization looking for volunteers and this will give you a good feeling about yourself.
  8. Take time for yourself to indulge in activities that you enjoy. Be creative!

    Have some fun!
    Laugh and be with
    you enjoy

  9. Avoid perfectionism, nobody is perfect. hoose to think positively and to process information objectively.
  10. Learn to recognize your danger signals and know what indicators show that you are under stress like: trouble sleeping, feeling depressed, losing your temper, headaches.

If you or someone you know is facing a crisis call Crisis Response Services, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week Toll Free at 1-866-888-8988

Frauds, Scams and Theft
Fraud is the NUMBER ONE crime against seniors. Be an educated consumer. Not everyone who has been defrauded is even aware that they have been a victim.

Seniors are often targeted by con artists for a number of reasons:

  • They often live alone and have more savings, assets, or disposable income.
  • They are often home during the day and available.
  • Generally, they are more trusting.
  • They may have been scammed before and fraud artists will share lists of their victims.
  • Many seniors do not report losing their money to a con artist because they are embarrassed and ashamed at having been deceived.

Scams can be conducted over the telephone, by mail, over the Internet, and door-to-door. Often, you will be pressured into donating or purchasing right now! Prizes, vacations, charities, club memberships, or investments can be the front used by con artists. Don’t fall for it!

  • Legitimate organizations do not require immediate response and should allow you time to think about your decision. They should also provide you with information in the mail.
    You are in
    control…If you
    do not wish to
    buy something,
    simply say “NO”
  • Take your time and have others review information with you.
  • If someone won’t let you get off the phone, hang up!
  • Familiarize yourself with an organization by asking for references and asking a lot of questions.
  • Be cautious of anyone claiming, “You will never get another opportunity like this”.

There are many types of frauds, scams and thefts designed
to part you from your money.

    This is a term used to describe the sale of goods/services, or canvassing for charities or conducting surveys over the telephone. Telemarketing is a recognized legitimate business practice, but may be susceptible to misuse by unscrupulous individuals. Typical examples of these telemarketing scams are: Prize Scam, Lottery Scam, Charity Scam, and Vacation Scam.
    Check with
    Revenue Canada
    Charities Division
    toll free
    to ensure that
    the charity is
    • When a caller asks you to send money in order to claim a big prize, it’s a scam. Do not send out any money or give out your credit card number to the caller.
    • No matter how incredible the odds may sound to you, the odds are still usually millions to one. Legitimate lottery and sweepstakes administrators never charge fees to deliver a prize.
    • Many scams are successful because the name of the charity being used in the scam is similar to an easily recognized charity. Scammers also rely on the good will and compassion of people in times of crisis. True charitable causes are worthwhile.
    A fraud that usually occurs when the con artist appears at your door and attempts to either sell you something (vacuum, home alarms, or meat freezer orders), or offers to do some type of home renovation (snow removal, roof repair or painting). As we age, we may find ourselves in need of hiring people to assist us in maintaining the comfort and security of our homes. Extra caution is needed here in obtaining services from those who may have access to our homes and our property.
    Recognize it
    Report it
    Stop it
    • Don’t feel pressured and never let strangers into your home.
    • Never give a cash deposit or pay for work until it is done.
    • Take time to compare quality, process and warranties. If you decide to purchase something, make sure you get a proper, fully itemized contract.
    • Check out any company that you are unfamiliar with and want to determine whether it is a legitimate and reputable business. Call the Ministry of Consumer and Business Services, toll free 1- 800- 889-9768.
    • Fraud artists come up with new frauds everyday to defraud you of your money and possessions. Do your homework. Get a contract. Have friends or relatives assist you.
    If it sounds too
    good to be
    true… it
    probably is
    Is a scam that reaches us through mail, E-mails, or the newspaper. It is important not to be confused or mislead by companies that sell products by mail and use contests or sweepstakes to catch your attention. Many are “too good to be true”. See these advertisements for the cons that they are. No matter how appealing these offers may sound, trust your good judgment, use your common sense and let these “opportunities” slip into the garbage. Delete the E-mails without opening them.
    Bank Related Scams are common frauds involving seniors. There have been many changes in the financial services industry over the past few years. Consumers now have greater flexibility and more options than ever before regarding their finances. Appropriate care and diligence must be exercised when making financial transactions of any kind.
    Phone Busters
    provides information
    on phone fraud
    Call toll free
    • Get your bank or credit card back as soon as a transaction is completed.
    • Never give out you bank or credit card number over the Internet or over the telephone to an unsolicited caller.
    • Sign the backs of new cards as soon as you get them. Cut up your expired card.
    • Never give someone a cheque without filling it out yourself.
    • Don’t endorse cheques in advance.
    • Report lost/stolen cards or cheques immediately.
    A scam that involves one con artist distracting you with conversation or a question while another person steals your purse or personal property. These scams can happen at your front door or in the middle of a grocery store. Be extra cautious when approached by strangers, no matter how innocent or official they appear.
    • Always keep all house or apartment doors locked, even when you are home.
    • If someone is at your door and is requesting access as a public utilities inspector, ask to see their credentials and then call the company to confirm their identity.
    • Never leave your purse or wallet in a shopping cart unattended.
    An increasingly popular crime in Canada as a result of recent advances in technology. Knowledgeable criminals are figuring out how to steal identities by obtaining personal information. Once someone has assumed your identity, they can create havoc in your life; run up bills on your credit cards, take out loans in your name, transfer bank balances and open up new bank accounts.

Some advice on avoiding identity theft:

  • Store your birth certificate and passport in a safe place. Only carry them with you when you absolutely have to.
  • Store cards and documents containing personal information in a secure place, and shred them after they expire.
  • Review bank and credit card statements frequently, report discrepancies immediately and shred old documents.
    Identity theft steals
    your good name, your
    money, even your
    Don’t let it happen to
  • Shred or otherwise destroy pre-approved credit card receipts, bills and related information when no longer needed.
  • Check out a missing or late credit card or bank statement immediately and report lost or stolen cards immediately.
  • Sign all credit cards when you receive them and never loan them to anyone. Keep only a credit limit that you need.
  • Cancel credit cards you do not use and keep a list of the ones you use regularly.
  • Only purchase goods or services online from reputable retailers; fake websites are often designed to redirect credit card numbers and other valuable details.
  • Keep your bank card’s personal identification number (PIN) secret and conceal the pad when entering the number at retailers or bank machines.
  • Never leave a written copy of your Social Insurance Number, your bank PIN number, computer password etc. in your purse or wallet.
  • Never leave receipts at bank machines, bank wickets or garbage cans. Make sure you destroy paperwork you no longer need.
  • Never provide personal information such as your SIN, date of birth, credit card numbers, or PIN over the telephone unless you initiate the call.

Frauds/Scams Prevention Tips

  • In the world of fraud, the two most used phrases are “Buyer Beware” and “You do not get something for nothing”. Commit those phrases to memory and repeat them to yourself whenever you receive any solicitation.
  • Do not rush into any agreements that involve your property or money. Take your time and ask questions. Get more than one opinion as to the necessity of the work and a written quotation as to the cost.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Avoid “get rich” schemes.
  • Be careful when signing contracts. Have a family member, trusted friend or a legal representative review it first.
  • Read the fine print and if you do not understand, ASK QUESTIONS and GET ANSWERS.
  • Report suspicious offers to the police immediately, before the suspect finds other victims. Casually take note of what he/she looks like and any vehicle being driven.
  • Never turn over large amounts of cash to anyone, no matter how good the deal sounds.
  • Never give out any personal information, such as bank or credit card numbers over the telephone, unless you have initiated the call to a reputable business.

Power of Attorney
Many people believe if something happens to them and they are unable to make decisions for themselves, either financial, about their health or both, their family can do so for them. This is not necessarily true, as legal authority is needed. One way to protect yourself is through the use of a Power of Attorney. This document empowers a person or persons of your choosing to act on your behalf for financial or personal care decisions.

A Power of Attorney for Personal Care, sometimes called a “personal power of attorney” is a legal document. With this document you give someone the power to make personal care decisions on your behalf if you become mentally incapable of making them yourself.

It is important for all
Powers of Attorney to
include a clause that
says that the
document does not
come into effect
unless the person is
deemed incapable of
making an informed

Personal care decisions are decisions about your health care (including medical treatment), diet, housing, clothing, hygiene and safety.

A Continuing Power of Attorney for Property, lets your Power of Attorney make decisions about your property such as finances, home and possessions and continue to go on acting for you if you become mentally incapable of managing your property. To be valid as a Continuing Power of Attorney, the document must either be called a Continuing Power of Attorney, or state that it gives your Attorney the power to continue acting for you if you become mentally incapable.

Property decisions are financial dealings, such as banking, signing cheques, buying or selling real estate, and buying consumer goods.

The person you have appointed has the legal obligation to keep an accurate account of money transactions.

Be careful…

Remember to take extra care when deciding whom to appoint as your Power of Attorney. Do you consider them to be responsible, trustworthy, and good at handling money?

Theft by person holding Power of Attorney

Any person who misuses or commits theft by holding Power of Attorney may be subject to charges under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Elder Abuse & Neglect
Abuse and neglect of older or vulnerable persons is not a new problem. Although present for many years in our society, it has existed in relative silence, denial and isolation. It is not usually talked about, and is difficult to solve unless people recognize the abuse and let someone know it is happening. Many acts of abuse are crimes.

What is Elder Abuse? Abuse and neglect of older persons can be defined as any action or inaction by any person, which causes harm, threatens harm, or jeopardizes the health or well being of an older person where there is an expectation of trust.

All Seniors deserve
to be treated with
Dignity, Honour
and Respect

Who is Abused? Abuse can happen to any person, but certain factors can make some people more vulnerable. These include mental or physical impairment, cultural, or language barriers. Abused, older or vulnerable persons are often socially isolated with few friends or family in whom to confide.

Who Abuses? Anyone can be an abuser. Abusers can be a family member and are often people who depend on the older person for shelter or financial support. Abusers can also be neighbours, hired caregivers, friends or strangers. Abuse can also occur in institutions, like long term care facilities or retirement homes. The abusers could be staff members, family, other residents, or even visitors.

Abuse or neglect is seldom reported for a variety of reasons:

If you are a resident or a
visitor in a long term care
facility and suspect abuse
call the Long-Term Care
Action Line toll free
  • Victims don’t know what their rights are or, what can be done.
  • Many people think the police or other agencies can’t help them.
  • Seniors fear being left alone or being placed in an institution.
  • Individuals do not want to get involved.
  • Victims can be afraid of what the abuser will do if they report the abuse.
  • Many feel ashamed because their family or caregiver is mistreating them.
  • Seniors often feel embarrassed at having been taken advantage of or scammed.
  • Some do not know the signs and symptoms of abuse.

Elder Abuse Can Happen to Anyone and Can be Committed by Anyone, Regardless of Economic, Social, Ethnic, or Cultural Environment

Recognizing Abuse and Neglect

Signs and Symptoms
of Physical Abuse

  • Cuts, bruises, burns
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Poor skin condition
  • Avoiding social contact
Signs and Symptoms
of Financial Abuse

  • Power of Attorney has
    been changed
  • Lost jewelry or other
  • Not having funds for the
    necessities of life
  • Signing documents they
    do not understand
  • Hesitant or refusal to talk
    about the above

Signs and Symptoms
of Emotional Abuse

  • Helplessness
  • Hesitation to talk openly
  • Depression and denial
  • Fear and agitation
Signs and Symptoms
of Neglect

  • Inadequately clothed
  • Malnourished or
  • Untreated medical
    condition or injury
  • History of accidents or
  • Health care needs not
  • met by caregiver
  • Significant change in
Signs and Symptoms
of Self Neglect

  • Inability of older or
    vulnerable persons to
    adequately take care of
  1. Physical Abuse
    • Slapping, hitting, shaking, pinching, punching or other rough handling
    • Sexual assault – any unwanted form of sexual activity
    • Forced confinement in a room, bed or chair
  2. Financial Abuse
    • Any act done without consent, that results in the financial and personal gain of one person at the expense of another
    • Frauds, forgery, thefts or the dishonest use of a person’s money or assets
    • Misuse of Power of Attorney or forcing someone to sign a will or sell property
    • Overcharging or high pressure sales for services or products
  3. Emotional Abuse
    • Humiliating, threatening or frightening an older or vulnerable person
    • Not allowing an older or vulnerable person to make decisions
    • Deliberate social isolation
    • Ignoring the person or treating them like a child
    • Mistreating and controlling another person through their feelings
    • Insulting, giving orders, and saying things to confuse a person
  4. Neglect
    • Failing to give someone who is dependent what he or she needs
    • Over medicating and under medicating
    • Abandonment or leaving someone in an unsafe or isolated place
    • Lack of safety precautions
    • Not treating medical conditions or injuries
  5. Self Neglect
    • Often live alone and do not have a caregiver, close friend, or relatives
    • May be confused due to some dementia or the misuse of medication or alcohol

Taking Action on Abuse and Neglect

Many types of abuse or neglect are crimes. If you have been abused, or if you think someone else is being abused, call the police. This is a very important step in protecting yourself or those you may believe are in jeopardy.

Experience shows us that when abuse is not identified and stopped, the level of abuse often increases. 1% to 10% of seniors are known to be experiencing some form of abuse. These numbers are conservative because elder abuse is known to be under reported.

When calling the police you can remain anonymous. However, you may be asked for your name and phone number, should more information be required. Where personal injury or property damage is feared, a peace bond may provide protection from the abuser. If the evidence is sufficient to believe that a crime has occurred, charges may be laid against the abuser.

It is important to note that in many cases, the police can assist in resolving the matter outside the judicial system.

For information on the Ontario Strategy to Combat Elder Abuse contact Regional Consultant, Lee Stones at 1-807-343-8563

What You Can Do About Abuse and Neglect

  • If you suspect someone is being abused, get involved. You may be able to prevent further abuse or reduce the harm caused.
  • Whether you live in your own home, at a retirement home or long-term care facility, know your rights and ask for advice if you think something is wrong.
  • To minimize your risk of abuse, Stay Active, Stay Sociable. Maintain and increase your network of friends and acquaintances. New activities can bring new friends. Have regular contact with family and friends either by phone or visits at home.
  • Be cautious about permitting adult children or others into your home to live, especially those with a known or suspected history of financial problems, violence or substance abuse.
  • Familiarize yourself with your spouse’s tasks to ensure your continued independence.
  • Stay organized. Know where your important papers and financial records are.
  • Plan now for later. Get legal advice and make arrangements now for documents like Powers of Attorney, your will or your finances. Don’t let anyone keep the details of your finances from you.
  • Find out what community resources are available in your area. Know who to call for assistance when you need it.

If you are still hesitant about calling, and know of someone who is being abused or neglected, you can contact Northwestern Ontario Crime Stoppers 1–800–222-8477 and your information will remain anonymous

Safety in Your Home
Seniors should feel safe and secure in their own home. It is important to take a few simple steps to make sure this is the case for you.


  • Look for entry points or areas where an intruder could hide from view of your neighbours. Be sure doors, windows, garages and sheds are properly locked, even when you are at home. Upgrade windows and doors (deadbolts) as needed. Remember, chain locks are not security devices, do not depend on them.
  • Have a wide angled peephole installed in each of your exterior doors at a suitable height for you. This will allow you to see callers before you open the door. Never open the door to strangers without first seeing identification and verifying that identification.
    It’s up to
  • Keep your window blinds or drapes closed after dark.


  • Make sure your house number is very visible.
  • Install motion – sensitive security lights to cover any areas such as entrances and garages that provide hiding spots. They are automatic and will come on any time after dark when their sensors are triggered by movement.
  • Don’t leave telltale signs that you are away. Have your mail and newspapers picked up by a friend or neighbour each day. Continue to keep your property maintained year-round (grass cut and snow removed).


  • Use timers to turn on lights, radios or televisions. These are especially important when you are away or on vacation to give the appearance that someone is home.
  • Keep valuables in a safety deposit box. Keep large amounts of money at the bank.

Safety in Your Apartment

Seniors living in apartments should also feel safe and secure.

  • Before “buzzing” someone in, verify by voice or monitor that he/she is the person that you are expecting. If you’re not sure, call the superintendent/caretaker.
  • When entering or leaving the building, stop being the “nice guy” by allowing
    unknown persons to enter through the open door.
  • Secure your doors and windows properly. Never assume that your balcony is
    completely secured and out of reach of burglars.
  • Don’t get on an elevator if you are suspicious or feel uncomfortable of the
    other occupants. Wait for the next elevator. If you are already on the elevator and feel uncomfortable about the person getting on, then get off. Always stand near the control panel. If something goes wrong you can push the emergency alarm button and all the floor buttons.
  • Try to make a point of attending the laundry room with a friend or other
    tenant and only during daylight hours.


  • If a stranger arrives at your door and asks to use the phone, don’t let them
    inside. Instead, offer to make the call for them while they wait outside. Never let anyone know that you are home alone.
  • Get to know your neighbours and keep their phone numbers handy for
    emergencies. If you arrive home and it appears that someone has entered your home, do not go inside, do not touch anything. Call the police from a neighbours and wait for them to arrive.
  • Regular contact between family and friends is important to all of us. Work
    out a “buddy system” with someone so that you can check on each other’s well–being regularly. Remember to tell others when and where you are going and when you are expected to return.

Imagine a world…
where all seniors are respected and safe.

Fire Safety
Seniors should be prepared and know exactly what to do and where to go if a fire occurs. Protect yourself and your home from fires with these helpful tips:

Replace smoke
detector batteries
twice a year. This is
easier to remember if
done with the time
change in the spring
and fall
  • Have a working smoke detector on every level of your home (especially outside of sleep areas). Test them regularly every month and make sure everyone living in the home can hear the smoke alarm. If it is too difficult for you to reach the detector to test it yourself, have a family member or friend test it for you.
  • Make a home escape plan or refer to your building’s fire safety plan. You should know two exits out of your home.
  • When your smoke detector goes off get out of your home as quickly and safely as possible. Do not stop to gather belongings and once you are out of your home, stay out.
  • Sleep with your bedroom door closed because most fires occur in the kitchen and living room. If you sleep with your bedroom door closed, you should have a smoke detector installed in your bedroom.
    Avoid wearing loose
    clothing around the
  • If you suspect a fire, check doors for heat before opening them. Use the back of your hand and avoid touching the doorknob when checking for heat.
  • Turn pot handles inward so you won’t bump them and splatter the hot contents. If possible, cook on the back burners. Treating burns immediately is crucial. Place a minor burn (redness of skin with some pain) in cool water for 10 to 15 minutes. If a burn is red, blistered, white or charred, cool it with water and seek medical treatment immediately.
  • Most fire victims die from smoke, not flames. Smoke always rises, so get down on the floor and crawl on your hands and knees to safety. If your clothing catches on fire, lower yourself to the ground, cover your face with your hands and roll over and over to put out the flames. If you can’t do this, grab a towel or blanket and smother the flames.
  • Never leave cooking unattended. Turn off burners for interruptions like the telephone, and take along an item from the kitchen, like an oven mitt or timer as a reminder that oven is on.
    Matches, lighters and
    other smoking
    materials should be
    kept out of reach of
  • Never smoke in bed or when sleepy.
  • Don’t smoke when taking medications that make you drowsy.
  • A carbon monoxide detector should be on each floor of your home and tested on a regular basis.
  • If you smoke, use large, sturdy ashtrays with a centre support to hold the cigarette. Empty them into a metal container or douse them with water to make sure the embers and butts are completely out and cool before discarding.
  • Keep space heaters at least 1 metre (3 feet) away from everything, including you. A slight brush against a heater could set your clothing on fire.
  • Always place candles in non-tip candleholders before you light them. Extinguish candles before you leave a room or go to bed. Unattended candles start many fires each year.

If you have any questions about fire safety, contact your local Fire Department.

Safety on the Street
Most street crimes can be avoided by following a few simple precautionary steps:

Be alert and cautious…

  • Take note of people around you; don’t feel pressured into talking to strangers.
  • In public, look people in the eye and walk with confidence. If you suspect a problem, go to the nearest public place or populated area and request assistance.
  • Walk only in well-lit areas, away from alleys and doorways. Stay away from shortcuts where you may be alone and vulnerable.
  • When someone takes you home, have the driver wait until you are safe inside.

When you are out walking…

Keep a record of all
documents that you
have inside your
wallet or purse and
store the list
somewhere safe
  • When crossing at intersections, be sure you have eye contact with drivers who are turning, as they may not see you.
  • Be aware of possible hazards such as sidewalks in disrepair or covered by snow or ice.
  • Be alert to cyclists, roller bladers or skateboarders.
  • If walking after dark, wear or carry something reflective.

When carrying a purse or wallet…

  • Whenever possible, do not carry a purse. Consider using a fanny pack or carrying your wallet in your front pants pocket.
  • When opening your purse or wallet in a shop, bank or at an automated teller machine, never allow anyone to see how much money you have in your possession.
  • Always keep your purse close to you. When shopping, don’t let yourself be distracted by strangers. Never leave your purse unattended in shopping carts, on store counters, or on the floor at your table in a restaurant.

Safety and Your Vehicle
People are generally distracted when approaching their vehicle, carrying parcels, looking for keys, etc.

The following tips can help you keep safety in mind:

  • Park in open and well-lit areas. Don’t carry valuables, but if you must, lock them in the trunk of your vehicle – out of sight.
  • Lock the door whenever you enter or exit your vehicle. Consider using an anti-theft device such as an alarm or steering wheel lock to make it harder for thieves to steal your vehicle.
  • If you have car trouble, put on emergency flashers and lock yourself inside. If someone stops to help, lower your window slightly, but do not get out of the vehicle. Ask the stranger to call a service truck or the police for you.
  • Consider carrying a cell phone. That way, you will not have to depend on strangers to call for help. Remember to take the cell phone with you when you leave the vehicle.

When you are driving a vehicle…

  • Remember to get your doctor’s or your family’s opinion about your driving. We must all recognize our limitations. Perhaps you should avoid driving at night or in heavy traffic. Plan now for a time when you can no longer drive.
  • At the age of 80 and every two years thereafter, drivers must complete a written test, a vision test and a workshop on traffic safety. If a driver over the age of 70 is involved in a collision, the Ministry can require that a road, vision and written test be completed.
  • Keep a “CALL POLICE” sign in your vehicle, and put it in the window when you need help.

In most areas call 911 for emergency situations or 1-888-310-1122 for police assistance. Know the local Police Service number that is appropriate to your area.


CCAC logo


The North West Community Care Access Centre (NWCCAC) helps people obtain health care and social services in their homes, their community and in Long-Term Care Homes. We:
    •    provide the public with information and referrals regarding the NWCCAC’s services, Long-Term Care Homes and other health-related organizations and social services available to them;
    •    assess people’s needs and arrange for health and personal support services in their homes;
    •    manage all admissions to Long-Term Care Homes; and
    •    authorize and arrange health services for children at home or at school.

This service is offered throughout the Kenora/Rainy River District in the communities and surrounding areas of:
Atikokan • Dryden • Fort Frances • Rainy River
Kenora • Red Lake • Sioux Lookout • Thunder Bay - Head Office

For additional information on the NWCCAC and services offered please call 1.877.661.6621 or 1.800.626.5406 (head office) or visit our website at:

The mission of the Northwestern Health Unit is to encourage healthy behaviours by promoting and protecting conditions in which all people can achieve an optimal level of health.

ON logo

Public Health focuses on three areas: preventing conditions that may put health at risk (protection), early detection and prevention of health problems (prevention), and changing people’s and society’s attitudes and practices regarding lifestyle and societal choices (promotion).

The Northwestern Health Unit has 14 offices throughout the Kenora/Rainy River District. For more information about specific services and/or office locations, call 1-800-461-3348.