How to Identify and Prevent Hazards Around the Home
The home is where most people feel safe and secure. However, this is the place where accidents are most likely to happen. Home hazards can affect any member of the household, and accidents account for 21 million doctor and hospital visits every year. Most accidents in the home are preventable. By identifying potential hazards and taking steps to eliminate them, homeowners can make their houses safer.
Falls in the Home
Falls in the home are among the most common causes of injury. To protect against falls, household members should start by looking over high-risk areas to determine what they can do to minimize risk. They should make sure that areas like staircases and bathrooms are well-lit.
Additionally, homeowners should install handrails in bathrooms if necessary and keep handrails on stairways firmly installed and well-maintained. Adding non-skid mats in areas prone to dampness, such as mudrooms and bathroom floors, can also be helpful to homeowners trying to prevent slips and falls.
Fire can cause injury from burns and smoke inhalation. Homeowners can install smoke detectors in the kitchen, basement, and bedrooms. Once installed, smoke detectors should be tested monthly, and the batteries should be replaced twice a year. Many people replace the batteries when they are turning clocks forward and back for daylight savings time.
People should never leave pans of oil unattended when cooking, as the pans can quickly flare up and cause fires. If a fire occurs, the flames should be put out with a damp towel. People should never try to put out an oil fire with water, as this can cause the fire to spread.
Holidays can bring unusual risks. Homeowners should be sure to inspect strings of decorative lights before hanging. If wires are damaged or frayed, they should be discarded. Lights and ornaments should be unplugged when leaving the house or going to bed at night.
Above all else, homeowners should have a fire safety plan that is known to everyone in the household. Everyone should know how they will exit the home and where to meet safely.
Carbon monoxide cannot be detected by scent or sight. Often, poisoning is not detected until it is too late. Carbon monoxide detectors in the home can prevent carbon monoxide from going undetected. Furthermore, homeowners should check their heaters annually to ensure they are working properly.
Lacerations happen more often than people think. Looking about the house - inside and out - to identify any sharp hazards can significantly reduce the chance of injury. Objects such as kitchen sharps, razors, garden tools, and power tools can all cause serious accidents if not careful. Even the edges of cans and lids in a trash receptacle can cause serious injury.
To prevent lacerations, homeowners should put forks and knives in the downward position when loading the dishwasher, store kitchen knives safely, keep razors properly stowed in cabinets, lock sheds and other areas that store garden or power tools, and keep the trash can closed (and never push down trash with hands).
Kids should only play with age-appropriate toys from reputable sources. A good rule of thumb when homeowners determine whether a toy is a hazard is to see if it fits inside a toilet paper roll. If it fits through, then it should be kept away from small children.
Adults and older kids in the household should be trained in first aid and CPR.
Accidental poisonings can occur when small children get a hold of cleaning chemicals or when cleaning chemicals are mixed. Homeowners should ensure that all cleaners are stored in their original containers and that the directions stay legible. It is important for homeowners to remember to never combine bleach and ammonia or vinegar. These acids can release toxic gases that are corrosive when inhaled.
Homeowners should regularly look through their homes for potential hazards and address them to keep their households safe. By exercising caution and staying educated about what can go wrong, they can keep their household safe and secure.