Standing up for safety in South Florida

Sunshine Ace Hardware encourages customers to watch their step.

East Naples Sunshine Ace Hardware.

In a world that appears to be an increasingly dangerous place, can the hardware industry provide safety and peace of mind? “Absolutely,” says Michael Wynn, president of Sunshine Ace in South Florida.

“I think that because of the variety of products we sell, and because so many people come to us with a variety of problems, we’re really a source for trusted advice,” Wynn said.

One area of particular concern for residents of Southwest Florida is fall-related injuries. Collier county, which includes Bonita Springs, Naples and most of Sunshine Ace’s eight stores, has the second-highest number of fall-related injuries in the country. (San Francisco ranks first.) And Sunshine Ace is doing something about it.

The Florida hardware store company was one of the founders and early supporters of the Step Smart Collier coalition, a community organization to increase awareness of the risks seniors face inside their homes. The stores also distribute Step Smart Home Audit Checklists inside their stores.

“For us, the program involves educating people, and making people feel safe in their home,” Wynn said. “Our home audit checklist makes it easy to find the items in the store, helps them to get familiar with the solutions and makes it really easy to get a feel for the different products that can help.”

The check list provides advice for various areas of the house, plus a Home Audit Savings Pass of $10 off any purchase of $50 or more.

One of Wynn’s main messages: it’s the simplest solutions that can provide the most significant return on investment. For instance, installing night lights around the house is a powerful safety strategy. “As simple as it sounds, getting up in the middle of the night, and feeling disoriented and tripping on something you don’t see is a leading cause of accidents,” Wynn said.

Other important yet simple home improvement solutions include stepladders with sidebars, non-slip carpets and floodlights with motion sensors.

While other dangers might grab more headlines, the dangers of falling in the home are real, especially for aging populations.  Wynn pointed to stats showing half of senior citizens who are injured in a fall will die within a year of the fall.

“The complications that come with that fall set off a chain reaction for victims and their families,” he said. “We can have conversations with families after the fact, but we want to help our customers to prevent injuries before they happen.”

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