Common household hazards to avoid
Last updated: January 1
From accidental falls to cooking mishaps, there are a number of ways you may be unintentionally injured at home. However, with a little more awareness and some simple precautions, you may be able to help your family avoid common household hazards.
Avoid common injuries
Two of the most common, but preventable, injuries Americans report are from falls and accidental poisoning, according to the National Safety Council's (NSC) Injury Facts.
Approximately one-third of emergency room visits are due to accidental falls, says Injury Facts. Follow these tips to help avoid a fall:
- Keep your floor clear. The NSC recommends arranging furniture so that there is plenty of room to walk, and keeping clutter, electrical cords and throw rugs away from areas where someone may trip over them.
- Use non-slip mats in your bathroom, says SafeHome.org. The NSC also suggests installing grab bars inside and outside of bathtubs and showers.
- Make sure stairs are well-lit and have railings, says the NSC. The Family Handyman also recommends keeping clutter off of stairs. While you may intend to bring that laundry upstairs later, it's not worth the risk of possibly tripping over it.
- Install gates for young children. Keep children out of areas that may be dangerous by installing baby gates — especially at the top and bottom of stairways, says StaySafe.org
- Storing potentially harmful materials out of reach of children and in their original containers. This includes:
- Medication, including over-the-counter medicines, prescription medicines and vitamins
- Laundry supplies
- Cleaning products
- Pesticides and insect repellents
- Personal care items, particularly contact lens solution and hand sanitizers
- Preparing, cooking and storing food according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) guidelines
- Installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home
Also, be sure you do not mix household chemicals together as this can create toxic gases, says the CDC.
Improve Fire Safety
Fire departments are called to over 350,000 home structure fires each year in the U.S., according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). But, with a few simple precautions, you can help improve the fire safety of your home.
- Smoke alarms: A working smoke detector is vital in helping to protect your family from a fire. The NFPA states that you should have at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home, one in each bedroom and another outside of sleeping areas. Test them monthly and replace the batteries at least once a year.
- Electrical fires: The NFPA offers tips for inspecting electrical equipment and avoiding an electrical fire at home:
- Check that wires are not frayed, cracked or loose. If they are, do not use the appliance until the cord is repaired.
- Do not run cords and wires under rugs or across doorways.
- Make sure light bulbs do not exceed the maximum wattage noted on the lamp or light fixture.
- Do not overload outlets and extension cords.
- Use covers on unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.
- Space heaters: Keep a space heater at least 3 feet away from anything combustible, including curtains, furniture and walls, and turn it off when you leave the room.
Keep Kids Safe
When there are children in your home, it's important to take some extra precautions.
- Prevent furniture from tipping. Heavy furniture, like TV stands, bookcases and dressers, can cause serious injury if they tip over. The Consumer Product Safety Commission's Anchorit.gov recommends anchoring furniture securely to help prevent an accident.
- Magnets, batteries and coins. If one of the following items is swallowed, the Cleveland Clinic recommends you seek immediate medical attention:
- Batteries: The chemicals in lithium and alkaline batteries can be very harmful if swallowed. Be especially careful with button batteries, which are often found in toys, key fobs and hearing aids.
- Magnets: Magnets can damage a child's gastrointestinal tract when swallowed and need to be removed as soon as possible.
- Coins: If a coin is swallowed, have a doctor check that it is not stuck in the child's digestive tract.
- Windows. Keep furniture away from windows and install window guards to help prevent a fall, says The Family Handyman. The NSC also recommends using only cordless blinds, shutters or draperies to help prevent children from becoming entangled. If this is not possible, install a safety device on all blind cords.
By checking some common items in your home and taking basic precautions, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you've taken steps to help keep yourself and your family safe in your home.