5 Top Safety Hazards Homeowners Should Address
As a homeowner, it's important to be aware of the top safety hazards found in residences. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), in 2019, about 76% of preventable injury-related deaths occurred in homes and communities, up 4.9% from the previous year. No one wants anyone to be injured in their homes, but unfortunately, sometimes hidden home hazards are overlooked. Read on to learn about the five top hidden home safety hazards all homeowners should address.
Clear Pathways Stop Fall-Related Hazards
Falls are consistently the most common home injury, and they occur in a variety of ways. The CDC consistently lists falls as the top reason why people need ER care. Three of the most overlooked hazards are slippery surfaces, objects left on the floor, and instability issues with staircases. To correct these issues, inspect and repair loose handrails, apply non-stick tread on uncarpeted steps, install safety gates on stairways to protect children, eliminate all trip hazards from floors (e.g., toys, pillows, or other items left), add area rugs with non-slip padding throughout the house, install handrails in showers, add non-stick tread to bathtubs, use non-slip bath mats, and ensure all hallways and stairways are well-lit.
Beware of Poison Hazards
The U.S. Poison Control Center reports it provided telephone guidance for more than 2.1 million human poison exposures in 2019, equating to one poison exposure every 15 seconds. Common poison hazards found in the home include medications, cleaning products, and home maintenance products. To avoid poison accidents, install child locks on cabinets and drawers storing these items, place medications out of reach, immediately dispose of expired or unused medications, and store laundry pods where they can't be mistaken for candy. When storing hazardous materials, place them in locations where curious pets won't come across them.
Install Detectors to Protect From Fire and Carbon Monoxide Hazards
Sadly, in the U.S., hundreds of thousands of house fires occur each year, resulting in about 4,000 deaths. Additionally, tens of thousands of accidental carbon monoxide poisonings occur. To avoid fire and CO2 accidents, homeowners can take preventable measures.
Always remember to blow out candles (set timers, or a reminder on your phone, so they aren't forgotten), never leave food on the stove unattended, check for frayed wires and unplug unused appliances, set designated smoking areas (ideally outside) with proper disposal containers, regularly clean clothes dryer ducts, and have HVAC systems cleaned each year. Updating old appliances improves fire prevention and can make your home more energy-efficient. It's also a good idea, especially if the home is older, to have an electrician inspect wiring to ensure everything is in good condition and up to code. To prevent injury or death, install smoke and CO2 alarms in all bedrooms and on every level of the home. Check batteries monthly and swap them out each year (if using conventional batteries). Look at the manufacturer's recommendations for replacement times.
Avoid Cuts and Laceration Hazards
Many people are surprised to learn how many household items can lead to serious cuts and lacerations. To prevent these types of accidents, it's a good idea to inspect and evaluate potential hazards thoroughly. Once identified, either store them or dispose of them properly. Common hazardous items inside the home include kitchen knives, bathroom sharps (e.g., razors), and sharp items in trash cans. Be sure to carefully wrap broken glass and never push trash down with your hands if something sharp was thrown out. Remember to inspect the exterior household areas and ensure power tools and sharp garden tools are properly stowed away.
Look Out for Strangling and Choking Hazards
Corded shades and blinds are being phased out of the market, but many homeowners still have them. Windows with covers that contain cords should be tied up and out of children's and pets' reach. If small children live or visit the home, small items should be carefully stowed away, toys routinely inspected, and adhere to removing recalled items from the house. Removal of strangling and choking hazards can save lives.
Preparation Prevents Injury From Home Hazards
Home safety begins with awareness and vigilance. Identifying hazards and making routine inspections to correct any issues can go a long way towards preventing household accidents. Additionally, get a home inspection to identify hazards before buying. There's no need to live in fear; a few home improvement projects can provide long-term protection from common hazards.