June is National Safety Month. The goal is to help Americans prevent injuries and accidental deaths by calling attention to common safety and health risks. Many of these risks are hiding right in your home. Whether you’re preparing your home for a quick sale or not, you’ll want to keep an eye out for hazards so you can identify and avoid them before an injury occurs. Here’s how to protect yourself and your family.
Falls are a leading cause of death for older adults and injury for all ages. Make these changes in your home to lessen the chances of falling.
- Use non-skid mats in your bathrooms and add bathtub appliques or non-slip safety treads to your tubs and showers.
- Install grab bars in the tub, shower and near the toilet, as well as railings on your stairs
- Provide adequate lighting in every room and stairway
- Place nightlights in the kitchen, bathrooms and hallways in case you need to get up in the middle of the night.
- Keep often-used items like clothing and food easily accessible to avoid having to use step stools or ladders
- When necessary, make personal walking devices such as canes or walkers, available and accessible to older adults
According to the CDC, more than 30% of injuries and deaths to children happen at home. Be aware of these potential sources of injury.
- Water: in the bathroom, kitchen, swimming pools or hot tubs. Drowning can happen quickly and quietly, even in bathtubs. So pay close, undistracted attention! Outdoors, it’s a good idea to install an isolation fence, with self–closing and self–latching gates, around backyard swimming pools and hot tubs that completely separate the house and play areas from the water. This step helps keep children safely away from the area.
- Heat or flame: in the kitchen, fireplace or at a barbeque grill
- Toxic substances: under the kitchen sink, in the medicine cabinet, in the garage or garden shed, or in a purse. That includes the chemicals marked with warning labels and skull and crossbone symbols, as well as common household cleaners. Medicines can be poisonous to children too. Consider installing child-locks on your drawers and cabinets.
- Falls: on stairs, slippery floors, from high windows or from tipping furniture. Use guards on windows that are above ground level, stair gates, and guard rails. These devices can help keep a busy, active child from taking a dangerous tumble.
- Seemingly harmless electronic devices, such as remote controls, keyless entry devices, toys, watches and more, may contain coin lithium batteries or “button batteries” which can cause serious injury or death if swallowed.
The average kitchen is filled with a number of hazards that can go completely unnoticed until an accident happens.
- Keep flammable objects (papers, curtains, plastics, etc.) away from fire sources (oven, stove top, portable heater, etc.)
- Be careful about using potentially harmful products, such as cleaning solutions and lighters, and keep them out of reach of children and pets.
- Never leave sharp objects such as knives or other utensils and tools misplaced or unattended.
- Make sure electrical cords aren’t draped across other appliances or the counter or stove top. Keep them away from water as well.
- Leave space around your appliances for proper ventilation.
- Stoves can tip over if not properly secured. In order to prevent this type of kitchen hazard, verify that your stove is secured properly.
- Always use trivets underneath pots and pans after removing them from the oven.
- Verify that the stovetop is turned off when food is finished cooking.
- Don't leave empty pots and pans on hot stove burners.
- Never place your hand or fingers in the drain while the disposal is running.
- Keep the utensil drawer organized the same way all the time so someone doesn't accidentally reach for a spoon and wind up with the blade of a knife.
The National Fire Protection Association reports there were more than 1,298,000 fires in the United States, causing 3,275 deaths, 15,775 injuries and $11.6 billion in property damage in 2014. Here’s how to protect yourself from home fires.
- Install smoke detectors, check them regularly, and replace the batteries at least once a year.
- Avoid overloading outlets and extension cords.
- Buy mattresses with flame-resistant protection.
- Keep fire extinguishers handy and know how to use them.
- Establish a safety exit. Ensure all family members know and understand it, practice with drills, and keep it clear.
- Don’t allow heaters or heat-exuding appliances to get overheated. Don’t block or pile things on them and leave plenty of breathing room/space around them.
- Never leave any type of fire or hot appliance unattended.
- Remove dry vegetation from around your home, especially during the hot or dry months.
- Cover your fireplace with a stable metal fire frame.
- Keep important phone numbers within easy access in case of an emergency. Make a list that includes the police, the fire department, poison control, and trusted family, friends, and neighbors.
- Make your street number clearly visible on your mailbox, fence, gate, or wall so emergency responders can easily locate your home.
Regardless of if you’re preparing your home for a quick sale or not, it's a good idea to periodically review your home safety situation and take steps that will prevent unnecessary injuries and accidents from occurring.