According to WebMD nearly one-third of all injuries happen in the home. Of these, most occur to small children and the elderly. April is Injury Prevention Month so this is a perfect opportunity to discuss home safety and strategies to prevent in-home injuries.
Reducing the Risk of Falls
Falls are the number one cause of home injuries in the US, according to theHome Safety Council. Following these tips will help in preventing falls in the home:
- Make bathrooms slip proof by installing grab bars and non-slip appliqués in the tub. Always use bath mats and cleanup spilled water immediately.
- Make stairs safer by removing clutter on or around the stairs, making sure handrails are present and sturdy, and making sure there is good lighting. Baby and toddler proofing the stairs requires additional hardware. Always err on the conservative side making sure all gates are securely mounted and cannot be moved, climbed or knocked over by the child
- Use throw rugs with caution. These rugs can easily slide when stepped on or trip someone with a turned up edge. Consider tacking or taping in place if they will be used.
- Leave a light on to assist during the night.
- Consider safety measures on windows to prevent accidental falls. Keep furniture away from windows to keep children from climbing to a dangerous position.
Poison exposure is the second leading cause of accidental death at home. Always post the poison control telephone number, (800) 222-1222, near every phone, store it in your cell phone, and memorize it.
The most common substances involved in household poisonings are:
- Cleaning products
- Personal/beauty products
- Lead and carbon monoxide
Knowing poisonous products and storing them appropriately will go a long way to reducing the poisoning risk. Selecting products that have additional safety features (such as safety lids), never mixing cleaning products together, and keeping all medicines securely out of reach will further reduce the poisoning risk. Keeping carbon monoxide gas outside and eliminating lead based paints will also help to reduce accidental poisonings.
Burn Risk Associated with Home Fires
Fires and burns are the third leading cause of accidental home injury deaths and cooking is the main cause of house fires. Following these suggestions will help mitigate the risk of injury and death from fire:
- Test smoke detectors monthly to ensure they are working properly
- Cook with caution; never leave the kitchen unattended, keep flammable items (loose clothing, oven mitts, dish towels etc.) away from cooking appliances, and be aware of whether burners are on or off.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking is the number one cause of fire-related deaths in the home.
- Check furnaces, chimneys, wood stoves, etc yearly, and have them cleaned as needed
- Use common sense. Discard frayed extension cords and damaged electrical cords, cover outlets within children’s reach and keep flammable items away from heat source or flame
- Know how to combat a fire. Have fire extinguishers strategically placed in the house, know where they are and know how to use them. Remember that eliminating the oxygen source will extinguish most fires. Have a plan to get everyone out of the house in case there is a fire. Remember to Stop, Drop and Roll if your clothes catch fire, and use cool water on any burned area of your body.
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