The Norman Transcript

May 13, 2013

The use of a tape measure can help clean up the clutter

By Brenda Hill
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Ready to tackle your annual spring cleaning task? Along with your broom and mop, be sure to grab a tape measure, too. That’s right, a tape measure.

Measuring the distances between your belongings will make your house a safer place to live for you and your family. Making sure there is plenty space to move around the house cuts down on the chances for trips, slips, falls, bumps and bruises.

There are a couple of key numbers to keep in mind as you are wielding that tape measure — 18 inches and 32 inches. Eighteen inches is a good distance between a coffee table, if you have one, and a couch or other type of seating.

However, for most people, leaving at least 32 inches around furniture and other stationary items allows for comfortable movement in kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms and other living spaces. This is enough space to allow walkers and wheelchairs to pass, and provides a comfortable amount of room for people to enter, exit and move around in a seating area.

To test the spacing, use a walker to see how easily you can navigate. If it’s too hard or you have to make too many turns, think about rearranging or removing pieces to cut down on clutter and overcrowding, which should make it easier to maneuver.

As you are taking a tour of your house with your tape measure, take note of other potential hazards such as poor lighting, loose rugs, and less than sturdy furniture. And most common, objects on the floor that could cause you to trip.

Be honest with yourself. If you are not good at identifying your clutter, call a friend or family member to help you.

When it comes to evaluating lighting in your house, pay special attention to walkways, stairs, kitchen counters, closets, workshops and sewing areas to make sure there is not only proper illumination, but also that the lighting is even.

Shadows can be just as much of a hazard as poor lighting. Place nightlights in bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways, and put lamps near the beds. Don’t forget to ensure you have a clear path to any light switches, and especially ones located away from doorways.