4 Home Safety Hazards Commonly Found in the Home
Everyone strives to protect their loved ones from injury, especially in the home. Unfortunately, unintentional accidents are the third largest cause of death in the U.S., according to the CDC. About 75% of these accidents happen at home. To avoid household accidents, address these four home safety issues commonly found in the home.
Falling hazards are the most common accident. Household falling hazards to identify and eliminate include loose handrails, slippery floors, and trip hazards on the floor. Use safety gates for children near staircases and install handrails to help avoid accidents in the shower—non-slip padding can also help. Ensure that hallways and stairways are well-lit and that steps that aren't carpeted have non-stick tread installed. The CDC consistently cites falls as the top reason for people having ER visits. Older adults are particularly vulnerable to falls, with three million visiting ERs each year.
Fire Safety Issues
Each year, hundreds of thousands of house fires occur in the U.S. Sadly, many of these will result in injury or death. To reduce and hopefully eliminate fire safety issues, give your house a good inspection and use good safety practices.
- Always keep an eye on food cooking on the stove to reduce the risk of grease or other accidental fires.
- Never leave unintended candles—instead, switch to flameless candles. If traditional candles must be used, set alarms to remember to blow them out before bedtime.
- Avoid smoking in bed and limit smoking to designated areas of the home with safe disposal containers for butts and ashes.
- Get in the habit of unplugging appliances not being used and regularly check them for frayed wires.
- Have the home's electrical system inspected by a professional to ensure old wires, switches, and outlets are still in safe condition. There's a reason home inspectors check for this.
- Routinely clean out dryer ducts—these are a common source of fires.
Buy smoke alarms to install in every bedroom and on each floor of the home. Be sure to check batteries at least twice a year and switch them out at least once per year. Most fatal fires occur at night. Also, when installing smoke alarms, plan to add a few carbon monoxide detectors to protect everyone from this odorless and poisonous gas.
Sadly, more than two million poisonings occur every year. Common household items that lead to poisoning accidents include cleaning products, home maintenance items, and medications. Many poisoning accidents are preventable with proactive safety measures. Keep children safe by installing child locks on cabinets and drawers and make certain all medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, are out of their reach, along with laundry pods that may be mistaken for candy. To keep adults from accidentally overmedicating, use clearly marked pill counting containers. Always dispose of expired or unused medicines. Curious pets also can become accidentally poisoned. When storing hazardous materials, keep this in mind, stow products away from pets, and always clean up spills immediately.
Cuts and Lacerations
It might be surprising to learn how many sharp objects found in the household can cause serious injury. To keep everyone safe from these items, be sure they are either safely stowed away or properly disposed of. Eliminate kitchen hazards by keeping sharps in safe places and point knives and forks downward in the dishwasher. Keep the trash can closed (and locked to keep children and curious pets out) and be careful about disposing of sharp objects. In the bathroom, lock up any sharps, such as razors, or store them safely to avoid accidental cuts. Keep garden and power tools locked up when not in use.
Household safety starts with awareness of the potential hazards. It's always a good idea to routinely check for hazards so they can be quickly corrected—before an accident occurs.