Have you noticed that much of the cabinet space you need in the kitchen is higher than you can reach? It seems as though half the storage is beyond your ability to access without a step stool or small ladder in some homes. This very annoying problem can be solved safely with planning and attention to ladders and stools to minimize fall risk. And remember, broadly speaking, the further you fall, the greater the chance of injury.
Yet, the kitchen is not the only room where you need a step stool or ladder. Changing light bulbs, reaching for that shelf above the closet, and numerous other places call for step stools or ladders. But, before we get into any recommendations, we want to do everything possible to keep you off of any step stool or ladder. Call Ruby for a complete home assessment to get additional safety ideas, but let’s get started with alternative solutions to using a step stool.
People use step stools or ladders to reach for items that can’t be accessed any other way. But, before using a step stool, take a close look at organizing your kitchen, closets, and garage. Consider these suggestions and reach out to family and friends to help you.
We understand that your kitchen is your castle and that you know where everything is. But, take a critical look at how to reorganize the space to minimize the number of times you need to use a step stool. If you have lots of drawers in the hallway, there is nothing wrong with using that space for pots, pans, glasses, or even canned goods.
First, do you use everything that you have in your cabinets? Pare down your items. If you haven’t used something in a month, perhaps storing it is a better solution. See if you can cut down the number of items in all of your cabinets.
Secondly, take the things that you use most often and bring them to lower shelves. Consider using a shelf organizer to make items accessible and free up space. Here is an example of a kitchen organizer.
There are many other examples as well, and the container store will give you hundreds of other organizational ideas to create more space.
Those blankets for winter that you store on the top closet shelf? Consider clear plastic bins that fit under your bed or storage, or designate another reachable area-even the garage.
The garage is another notorious area of clutter and inaccessibility that could use some organization. Donate or throw out tools or other items you don’t use any longer (we know - you might need it someday, but if you do, you can borrow or buy it). Eliminate the temptation to get on a ladder or step stool by moving tools to within arm’s reach. Talk with our occupational therapist at Ruby to get suggestions on organizing your garage using peg boards and clear stackable bins.
Changing lightbulbs can be a challenge since some lights require removing the housing before you can reach the bulb. In those cases, call your kids or the handyman! For bulbs that are accessible, telescopic light bulb changers are great.
We understand that everyone at one time or another may need to use a step stool. At Ruby, we give a lot of thought to keeping you safe, but the only way to ensure that you won’t fall off of a step stool is not to use one. Here are our top suggestions for step stools to give you the best chance of a safe ascent.
We like this stool because of the side rails and the adjustable height. The downside? It doesn’t collapse, so you need to find a place to store it when not used. Notice the bright blue step and hand grips against the white rails- we love this feature for low vision folks.
For those who need more height and a foldable unit, the LUISLADDERS ladder is your solution. Side rails and black against orange are additional safety features we like.
Hideaway units can be handy, especially in new construction where placement is in proximity to cabinet space. These units can be installed in areas beneath the cabinets, but keep in mind that their reach will be limited, and some have no side rails. So your balance and strength need to be good. Here is an example of a hideaway stool.
This part will be concise and to the point. We do not recommend ever getting on a ladder on the outside of the house for any purpose. The risk is too great. A fall from a ladder can cause serious debilitating injury. The alternative? Hire out any work that the exterior of the home needs: delegate painting, roof work, gutter repair, or replacement to professional companies.
At Ruby, we believe that creative solutions ensure safety and promote independence. Every home and each individual deserves an accessibility approach that meets their needs and preferences. We can look at your space and suggest solutions that will keep you safer and happier.
Here's how to ensure safety in small spaces
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