For most of us, our home is a safe haven, the place where we go to be protected from the dangers of the outside world. But statistics compiled by the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control tell us otherwise.
More accidents happen in the home than anywhere else. Here’s the stark reality:
- The number one cause of death in children is “unintentional injuries” (accidents), including drowning, falls, poisoning, animal bites, fires, and burns.
- More than 8 million people are treated in emergency rooms each year for falls, two million of them children. Falls are the leading cause of injury and death for people over 65.
- Emergency rooms treat an estimated 700,000 patients each year for the effects of poisoning.
- The economic impact of injury accidents – many of which happen at home – is estimated at $500 billion.
Take a walk through your house, room by room, to find out whether your home is an accident scene in the making. Here are just some of the potential safety risks, and what you can do to prevent them from injuring your family.
|Bath & Shower||Prevent slipping by installing non-skid pads in showers and baths.|
|Bath & Shower||Install grab bars in showers and baths, especially in households where elderly people live.|
|Bath & Shower||Keep toilet lid in down position in households with infants and small children to prevent accidental drowning.|
|Bath & Shower||Install toilet lid latches.|
|Bath & Shower||Use nightlights.|
Keep a flashlight by your bedside.
|Medicine Cabinets and Supply Cabinets||Install child-proof cabinet closers and locks to prevent accidental ingestion of dangerous substances.|
|Medicine Cabinets and Supply Cabinets||Educate children concerning the dangers of drugs and cleaning supplies.|
|Bedroom||Can you turn on the light without walking into a dark room?|
|Bedroom||Is the phone within easy reach of the bed while you are reclined in it?|
|Bedroom||Do you have a deadbolt on your bedroom door that locks from the inside only?|
|Kitchen||Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) breakers for any outlet exposed to water, in order to avoid electrical short circuit.|
|Kitchen||Install a working fire extinguisher rated for all types (ABC) of fires.|
|Kitchen||Tape small rugs to the floor or do not use them at all. It is easy to trip and fall over them.|
|Kitchen||Store poisons and cleaners well away from food.|
|Kitchen||Keep a sturdy stepping stool in kitchen to permit easy and safe access to cabinets above countertops.|
|Kitchen Appliances||Use only grounded appliances with three (3) prong plugs.|
|Kitchen Appliances||Turn all appliances to “off” when not in use.|
|Kitchen Stove and Oven||Always keep off when not in use.|
|Kitchen Stove & Oven||Educate children about burn dangers of stove/oven and pans on the stove.|
|Kitchen Stove & Oven||Keep pan handles pointed away from the open kitchen area to keep children from grabbing onto hot pans.|
|Halls, Stairs and Entrances||Are there light switches located at the top and at the bottom of stairs, so you don’t have to navigate stairs in the dark?|
|Halls, Stairs and Entrances||Do all stairways have securely fixed handrails on both sides that extend beyond the entire top stair and the entire bottom stair?|
|Halls, Stairs and Entrances||Are all carpets, runners and tack strips securely fastened down to avoid a tripping someone?|
|Halls, Stairs and Entrances||Are all exterior and basement stairs and walkways free of cracks in the concrete? Are all of these free of dips and holes?|
|Water Temperature||Set water heater lower than 120 degrees to avoid scalding injuries.|
|Electrical Outlets||Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) breakers for any outlet exposed to water to avoid electrical short circuit.|
|Hair Dryers & Curling Irons||Install hooks for hanging these appliances away from water sources.|
|Curtains||Are all curtains off the floor and at least 12 inches from any heating duct or baseboard heater?|
|Carbon Monoxide||Install carbon monoxide detectors near garages, fireplaces, heaters and other potential sources. If you use propane or natural gas, consider a combination device that detects explosive gases as well as carbon monoxide.|
|Clutter||Remove all unnecessary clutter from walkways and stairs.|
|Fireplaces||Protect fireplace hearths with screens to prevent sparks and burning logs from contacting flammables.|
|Electrocution||Install GFCI breakers on all outlets near water sources.Hide electrical cords to prevent damage from traffic, and to avoid tripping hazards.Discard old, frayed or repaired electrical cords and replace with new ones. Place electrical appliances against walls.|
|Guns||Educate children about gun safety.Store guns in a gun safe or other locked area, away from children’s access.Keep guns unloaded and ammunition stored in a separate location.|
|Pets||Know the breeds of your dogs and understand their temperament.Never assume your dog will not bite anyone.Always maintain your pets within your property by using a fence or other containment method.Never permit pets not familiar with children to be around children.If in doubt, use a comfortable muzzle on your dog when in public. Never leave the muzzle on an unsupervised dog or for extended periods of time.|
|General||Install cord keepers at all blinds to keep drapery and blind cords out of the reach of children.|
|General||Make an evacuation kit for everyone in your home in case you have to leave quickly. These should include one gallon of water per person, per day and food that does not have to be refrigerated. You’ll also need a flashlight with extra batteries, a battery-operated radio, a small first-aid kit and pet supplies. Include each person’s identification, passport, driver’s license, and personal identification.|
|General||If you live alone, make contact on a daily basis with a friend, relative or neighbor.|
|Smoke Alarms||Are there working and reliable smoke alarms located in each room?If the alarms are battery operated, make a note on your calendar each year to replace the batteries, even if the alarms appear to be working. A good way to remember is to schedule battery replacement each spring when you re-set your clock for daylight saving time.|
This is not an exhaustive list of the possible dangers of your household. Take your own safety inventory, based on your home and your lifestyle. Remember that danger lurks not only inside, but outside your house. There may be numerous safety risks when you, your child, or your elderly parents step out the door!
Here are some organization websites that provide more detailed information about keeping your home safe:
- Home Safety Council
An organization for education on issues relating to safety in the home; focused on all age categories and rich with multi-media resources.
Information on safety relating to home, work, and on the road. Multi-media resources, membership offered and regular publication magazine.
Large collection of home and workplace safety resources, products and education.
- US Fire Administration Fire Safety
Information and resources focusing on home fire safety. Resources for parents, kids, teachers, older adults, and people with disabilities.
Video illustrating the problems with dryer vent fires, plus potential prevention tips.
“McGruff the Crime Dog” site, sponsored by the National Crime Prevention Council. Focuses on home and neighborhood safety, including neighborhood watch tips, training, and gas station theft prevention.
The Coalition for Consumer Health and Safety says many household injuries can be prevented. Steve Brobeck of the Consumer Federation of America demonstrates simple steps you can use to protect yourself and your family. Video focuses on falls and fall prevention.
National Fire Prevention Association video explaining smoke alarm placement, testing and safety.
Dr. Tim Reinhold, Director of Engineering and Vice President, Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has identified five steps homeowners or their contractors can take to make homes more hurricane-resistant.
Some of the potential safety risks, and what you can do to prevent them from injuring your family.
You probably enjoy spending leisure time in the back yard… barbecuing on weekends, pushing your children in the swing, or gardening with your mom. All of these activities are even more enjoyable when you don’t have to worry about someone getting hurt. There are some simple, inexpensive actions you can take to accident-proof your outdoor areas:
- Make sure walkways and outdoor stairs are well lit and free from clutter. Do stairs have any loose steps? Are railings sturdy? Are concrete paths free of cracks and patches of grass?
- Recreation equipment should be sturdily built, fastened securely and free from rust, splinters and sharp edges. Swing sets and monkey bars, for example, take a beating during winter months if you are in a cold climate. Play equipment should be placed on soft ground – sand, mulch or rubber surfacing, for example – to cushion a child’s fall.
- Gardening and repair equipment should be kept in a garage or locked storage shed, not left where people can trip or get hurt by sharp edges. Store ladders where children will not be tempted to climb them. And make sure that garbage cans and other waste containers are securely covered.
- Bug sprays, weed killers and other potentially lethal garden supplies should be kept in a locked up too. Rinse out containers that have held poisonous substances, and keep children away when, for example, lawns and gardens have been sprayed.
- If you have a pool, whether in-ground or above-ground, you must be especially cautious. Make sure you know what state and local laws require in the way of fencing and locked gates. Purchase a water alarm that makes a piercing sound when something or someone enters the pool. Never leave children unsupervised in a pool – even a baby pool, which should be emptied of water when not in use. Most important, make sure your entire family is trained in CPR.
It’s not that difficult to make your home your castle instead of a house haunted by safety risks! But if you or a loved one is killed or suffers serious injury because of a product defect or the negligence of another, attorneys at Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley can help you sort out your rights. Just fill out our contact form or call us at 800-780-8607 and a staff member will phone you to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our attorneys.