SAFETY AT HOME: 10 COMMON SAFETY HAZARDS AROUND THE HOUSE

The home is supposed to be where you and your family are safe and protected but every year accident and emergency units deal with serious injuries and sometimes fatal accidents that occur in the home. It is not just children and the elderly that can come to harm in the home with things like chemicals and choke hazards. Accidents in the home claim 18,000 lives each year in America alone. It also accounts for 21 million medical visits annually, which costs a staggering $220 billion a year.

Many of these accidents are preventable and dealing with a serious accident that could have been avoided can lead to a lifetime of guilt.

We have put together this quick guide to alert you to the hazards in your home so that you can keep your family as safe as possible.

1. Falls

Falls are the leading cause of death when it comes to home accidents. They make up a third of all fatalities. The elderly are most affected by this type of accident. Fatalities aside, when an elderly person falls the associated problems are far more serious. While younger people may also suffer a broken bone, a broken bone is a far more serious problem for an older person in terms of healing.

Hip fractures are a serious problem in particular for those aged 75 and over and can lead to long-term care needs and serious mobility issues. Follow these tips to stay safer.

Minimize The Risk

  • Staircases: Keep children safe from tumbling down steps by installing safety gates at both the bottom and top of staircases. Keep everyone safe by making sure the lighting is good and the handrails and steps are solid and well maintained. Elderly people with less mobility should consider installing stairlifts or consider moving to a home without stairs to avoid falls.
  • Bathrooms: Anyone is susceptible to falls in the bathroom due to slippery wet surfaces. Whilst not the most hygienic type of flooring for a bathroom, those at risk of falling should consider having bathroom floors fully carpeted. Showers should have rubber mats to prevent falls from wet surfaces. Have mats or towels placed on the floor when getting out of the bath or shower. The elderly should consider investing in hoists or seats to make showering and bathing safer as well as a water-proof medical alert device.

2. Poisoning

The second leading cause of fatalities is poisoning which leads to 5,000 deaths a year in the U.S. This is a particularly heartbreaking statistic as for the most part curious young children are affected by this type of hazard. Prevent your child from serious injury and becoming one of these statistics by following the following safety tips.

Minimize The Risk

  • Any cleaning products and harmful substances if kept in the kitchen should be stored in cupboards out of the reach of small children in higher cupboards. If they are kept in lower cupboards, make sure you invest in inexpensive childproof locks for these cupboards.
  • Store paint and pesticides in garages and sheds that are locked and on high shelves away from children.
  • Monitor children in the kitchen and do not leave them unattended.
  • Label all unmarked containers and do not store products in food containers.
  • Have the details of the poison control centre number in your area to hand and have it stored on your mobile phone. In the event of poisoning, you need to act fast.

3. Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer. Unlike gas, it cannot be detected be smell. You can keep your family safe by following these steps:

Minimize The Risk

  • Ensure that you have carbon monoxide detectors in your home and test them regularly.
  • Ensure your heaters are checked annually to prevent danger from carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Some home security systems have carbon monoxide detection and will alert you early to unsafe levels in your home.

4. Fire Hazards

With over 3,000 American lives claimed each year from fire hazards, this is the third biggest killer as far as home accidents are concerned. Follow these steps to avoid fatalities and devastating burns to loved ones as well as damage to your home and belongings.

Minimize the Risks

  • Install smoke detectors in the kitchen, bedrooms and basement.
  • Test your alarm monthly and ensure you replace the batteries twice a year.
  • Consider a home alarm system that detects smoke. This will not just raise an alarm like a usual smoke detector but it will contact the local fire department and help will be on its way. This is particularly useful should a fire render the householders incapable of response due to smoke inhalation.
  • Be careful when cooking and NEVER leave a pan of oil for deep-frying unattended. If the pan catches fire use a damp tea towel to deal with the flames, never try to put the fire out with water.
  • Have your electrical wiring tested regularly by a qualified electrician.
  • At Xmas, a major hazard and devastating tragedy is fires, which can start from faulty Xmas tree lights. Ensure your festivities are not ruined by a fire by switching off all Xmas lights before you go to bed.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children.
  • If you smoke, take care to extinguish all cigarettes carefully.
  • Never leave a candle burning overnight.
  • Have a fire safety plan that everyone knows and carefully plan how you will exit the home.

5. Drowning

Children aged from one to four years old are at serious risk of drowning. In fact, it is the leading cause of fatalities and injuries in this age group. Children this age can drown in just two inches of water and 800 deaths occur each year in the U.S. alone in this tragic kind of accident. Follow these steps to keep your little ones safe.

Minimize The Risk

  • Always supervise babies and young children when bathing. If the phone rings at bath time, then leave it. It is not as important as your child’s safety. Ring them back when bath time is over!
  • Keep toilet lids closed.
  • If you have a swimming pool or pond then it should be in a fenced area. Never leave children in an unsupervised situation when water is about, including paddling pools.
  • Don’t use electrical items in the bathroom.

6. Choking

Choking is a hazard for small children who have a tendency to put small objects in their mouths!

Follow these tips to keep your child safe:

Minimize The Risk

  • Always watch small children.
  • Know how to perform first aid on your child should they start to choke, this includes knowing how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on your child if needed.
  • Make sure your child plays with toys that are age-appropriate and from reputable companies with no possibility of small breaking parts.
  • Follow safety procedures when putting babies to sleep and ensure there are no choking hazards in the bed.
  • At mealtimes, cut up food into small pieces for young children. Teach them to chew and swallow and do not give them large hard candy which is easy to choke on.

7. Sharp Objects

We all have plenty of sharp objects around the home that are necessary but in the hands of small children, they can be lethal. Follow these steps to keep your family safe.

Minimize the Risk

  • Keep kitchen knives and graters away from children in locked drawers.
  • Learn how to use knives safely and efficiently, if you don’t know how to chop, slice, and dice without risking your fingers then watch some short videos online.
  • Store sharp knives with shields to cover the blades and take care when washing.
  • Keep items such as rakes, saws, and lawn mowers, locked away safely in garden sheds. Follow safety procedures and use caution when using garden tools. Remain vigilant to avoid accidents while gardening such as tripping and stumbling and electrical hazards.

8. Stoves

Stoves present a significant danger for a variety of reasons. Keep safe by following these tips:

Minimize The Risk

  • Use the burners at the back if children are about to make it more difficult for children to reach up.
  • Pan handles should face inwards so that children cannot grab them.
  • Correct installation is essential to make sure that the stove does not tip over.

9. Dishwashers

Dishwashers are a great timesaving addition to any household but they do pose a danger. Follow these steps to avoid accidents occurring:

Minimize The Risk

  • Ensure that, when you place knives and forks in the dishwasher, blades and prongs are facing downwards to avoid cuts.
  • Unload the dishwasher after use so that small children are at minimal risk of getting their hands on sharp objects or wash them separately.
  • Never leave the dishwasher preloaded with detergent.
  • Dishwashers work by washing your dishes at high temperatures. Make sure that the dishwasher is securely latched so it cannot be opened mid-cycle, which could cause burns from steam and hot water.

10. Suffocation

Toddlers and young children are at risk of suffocation in your home. Follow these simple steps to avoid accidents and potential fatalities.

Minimize The Risk

  • Keep trash bags away from children and other bags that are a hazard.
  • Keep strings, cords, and ropes out of the reach of children. In particular, pay attention to curtains that have cords and make sure cots and beds are not near this strangling hazard.

We hope you found this quick guide useful and you and your family keep safe at home.

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