By Rodney Twyford, NPI Franchise Owner, San Antonio, Texas
We like to think of our homes as a safe haven where we escape the dangers of the outside world, but it may surprise you to know that in the United States, more than 20,000 deaths, 7 million disabling injuries and 20 million hospital trips are reported to occur around the home front each year.
June is National Safety Month in the United States and Canada, so in light of those staggering statistics, here are the five leading causes of injuries around the home and some things to think about to help keep your family safe and prevent unintentional injuries.
Don’t Let Falls Trip You Up
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 8 million people are injured due to falls every year, and no it’s not the children and elderly. Falls are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries in people ages 25 to 54.
Here are some ways to help prevent falls at home:
- Always use the proper tool in good condition for the job. A chair is not a ladder.
- Always be aware of your pet, small children and related toys. A good percentage of falls are due to pets – and mainly dogs.
- Be sure your throw rugs are in good condition and do not slip across the floor.
- Avoid wearing socks on hardwood or like floor surfaces.
- Keep rooms well lit, and consider installing motion-sensing switches if the light switch is not in a convenient location.
- Consider installing grab bars and a nonslip mat inside and outside wet areas, such as showers and porches.
- Always read the label on medications and how they react when combined with other drugs.
- Keep your eyeglass prescription updated.
Secure Heavy Items
Another safety concern around the home is items falling and causing injury, such as furniture and mainly television sets. Quite often, TV sets are found to be sitting on top of a dresser or entertainment center that is not secured. If a dresser or other piece of furniture is used, it as well as the TV should be anchored to the wall. The fall typically occurs when a piece of furniture gets bumped during horseplay or as a result of a child’s naturally adventurous nature to climb.
Prevent Accidental Poisoning
The second leading cause of accidental death or injury in the home is poisoning. Nearly 5,000 people die each year from ingesting poisonous substances, overdosing or using prescription medicines improperly. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations for taking medicine, and avoid mixing medications with alcoholic beverages.
All medicine and poisonous substances — such as those for pest control, weed control and household cleaning supplies — should be stored in lockable cabinets for child safety. For more information or if you suspect accidental poisoning, call the Poison Help hotline at 800.222.1222.
Prevent Fires and Burns
Burn injuries are also high on the list, with nearly 3,000 lives claimed annually due to house fires. Fires in the home are typically caused by cooking, electrical circuits, dryer vents and poorly maintained water heaters and furnaces.
Never leave a cooktop unattended, especially when small children are present. If you experience lights flickering, a burning smell or suspect an electrical circuit is not working properly, you should consult a qualified electrician to evaluate the concern and address it as necessary to avoid possible fires. Dryer vents, especially those that run vertically, should be cleaned regularly, and all water heaters and furnaces should be properly serviced annually to be sure they are in good condition.
Your home should also be well-equipped with smoke alarms located inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and at least one on each story level. Test smoke alarms monthly to be sure they are working properly. Contact a certified inspector at National Property Inspections or Global Property Inspections to be sure your appliances meet all new safety standards.
Keep Kids Safe
Airway obstructions are next on the list with nearly 1,000 people each year suffering from choking, suffocation and strangulation in the home, most involving children. Always place infants in a crib free of stuffed animals and loose blankets. Older children should never sleep with small objects that can be swallowed.
Secure Pool and Spa Areas
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The fifth leading cause of accidents around the home is drowning, with nearly 800 fatalities reported each year. The most vulnerable are children and the elderly — they should never be left unattended around pools and even bathtubs. Be sure your pool and spa areas are securely locked with a fence barrier at least 4-feet high. Contact a certified inspector at National Property Inspections or Global Property Inspections for more information regarding proper pool safety. A child can drown in as little as 1 inch of water, so just let the phone ring and don’t run off to answer the door — your child’s life may depend on it.