You may feel safer in your home than anywhere else, but statistics show that you might not be as secure as you imagine. In the United States, about 20 million people are hospitalized every year due to injuries that happen in their homes. Roughly 7 million of those injuries cause some type of disability, and nearly 20,000 of them are fatal.
Children and pets are especially vulnerable to accidents, since tend to be more active and are less able to recognize danger. However, accidents are common among adults as well. The good news is that you can significantly reduce the chances of injury by following some simple home-safety tips.
Fall-Proof Your Home
The most common cause of injuries at home is falling, which can result in sprains, broken bones and even more serious injuries. Fortunately, it isn’t hard to remove potential falling hazards from your home.
Perform a quick walk-through, covering every room of the house. Look for any clutter in your doorways, halls and other walking spaces. Make sure children’s toys are put away safely. Loose rugs can trip you, so secure them under heavy furniture or remove them completely. Tuck away any wires or cables that protrude underfoot. If you see any broken or dim light bulbs, replace them. Poor lighting is a common cause of falls so be sure all rooms are properly lit.
Toxic substances are especially hazardous to children and pets, but a significant number of adults also poison themselves each year at home. Help prevent accidental poisoning with an inventory of all toxic chemicals in your house, such as cleaning products, lighter fluid and medications. Check all of the lids to make sure they are tightly closed. Sealed caps keep vapors locked inside the bottle, and prevent contents from spilling onto the ground where toddlers or animals might find them.
Use a mop or wet rag to wipe down windowsills and furniture. This will remove paint chips and other particles that could end up in children’s mouths. Also, keep prescription and over-the-counter drugs in their original containers and out of reach of children. Medicines are common sources of poisoning.
If you suspect poisoning, call the American Association of Poison Control Centers 24-hour hotline at 1-800-222-1222. Keep that number handy in case of emergency. The association will send refrigerator magnets and stickers for your phone upon request.
Minimize Carbon Monoxide
You may have given little thought to carbon monoxide in your home, but this colorless, odorless gas can be deadly in large quantities. All fuel-burning appliances, including gas stoves and heaters, burn oxygen and emit carbon monoxide. Wood-burning fireplaces can be a major source of carbon monoxide, as well.
Prevent poisoning by making sure vents and chimneys are not blocked, and open a window if you use a gas-powered space heater. To monitor levels in your home, buy a carbon monoxide detector. Similar to smoke detectors, these gadgets display a digital reading of carbon monoxide levels and emit an alarm sound if levels climb too high.
Preventing Carbon Monoxide Problems: Colorado State University identifies common sources of carbon monoxide in this guide, and offers steps to eradicate the deadly gas from your home.
Home Fire Prevention: The United States Fire Administration provides this tip sheet to help you prevent fires and take the safest actions if a fire starts.
Poisoning: First Aid: This guide from the Mayo Clinic goes over the symptoms of poisoning and how to treat them, as well as when to call for help.
5 Ways to Make Your Home Safer: This article from This Old House outlines five suggestions for increasing the safety in your home. Topics include smoke alarm testing, kitchen habits and drowning prevention.