Decluttering is the first part of the organizing process. You may think that only applies for older adults, but no, safety first applies to all decluttering projects for all ages. Not only is clutter a safety issue, but as mentioned in many past posts, it causes stress.
During the needs assessment consultation, the client is asked about every area to be organized. We discuss what works and doesn’t work, and potential organizing solutions for the areas that are not working so well. As we walk through their spaces, I’m focused on safety first as I think about solutions.
As you may think, areas of egress such as windows and doors are the primary concerns, and you’re correct. However, there are other areas to consider in terms of safety first. These areas when decluttered, need to be declared ‘clutter free zone’s’.
Safety First Priorities
- Doors – all areas around interior and exterior doors need to remain clutter-free for ease of egress
- Windows – all areas around windows, and on the sills, need to remain clutter-free for ease of egress
- Stairs – clutter on stairs is a tripping hazard
- Countertops, especially near the stove or sink – items too close to a gas burner pilot light can cause a fire; items can fall into the sink and get wet, or end up in the garbage disposal
- Areas around appliances with vents or pilot lights – clogged vents can cause the appliance to malfunction; pilot lights can ignite clutter, or go out without proper ventilation; repair technicians can’t get to the appliance to repair it
- Top of the refrigerator – piling things on the top of your fridge can cause an avalanche
Some of the areas above are known to be clutter magnets, which means they attract clutter. As you develop your decluttering routine, be mindful of these areas to prevent clutter from accumulating. Establishing homes for all of your things, labeling their homes, and putting things back in their homes after use, creates organized spaces which eliminates the need for safety first.