Common Home Safety Hazards and How to Stay Safe
Injuries in the home cause 20,000 deaths per year, with 10 percent of these fatalities involving children. Too often, home owners only realize there's a safety hazard in the home when it's too late—for instance, after a forgotten candle has caused a fatal home fire. You'll greatly reduce your risk of harm by learning about common safety hazards and by safeguarding your home today, especially against damage not covered by home insurance.
Falls account for forty percent of injuries in the home. While anyone can be harmed by a tumble, children and older adults face the greatest risk of physical injury from a fall. Pets cause many falls by getting underfoot. Consider placing a small bell on your pet's collar so you'll know if they are behind you. Keep stairways safe by ensuring the handrail is securely attached, removing toys or other items from the stairs, lighting the stairwell, and fixing any loose carpeting or stair boards. If there are children in the home, use secure baby gates at the top and bottom of all stairs. Use window guards or child locks for windows, so any children cannot open windows and cause accidents in a Fort Hunt home.
In 2016 alone, there were 475,500 residential and commercial fires in the U.S. that caused $7.9 billion in damage.
Here again, children and elderly are at the greatest risk of dying or becoming injured in a fire. The biggest way to curb your risk is by installing smoke detectors, then replacing the battery twice a year. Just five percent of U.S. homes lack fire alarms, yet account for 50 percent of all fire-rated fatalities.
Cooking accidents contribute to many home fires. Avoid distractions in the kitchen, and never leave the stove unattended. If you use space heaters, keep them at least three feet from draperies, bedding, and other flammables. If you have children, educate them early about irons, stoves, candles, and other causes of fire.
Your home's heating system creates carbon monoxide or CO if the heating fuel—e.g. natural gas or oil—is not fully burned. If this gas isn't vented outside, it can build up in your home. Since carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, there is no way to tell whether your home has a carbon monoxide problem.
At low levels of exposure, you may feel dizzy or develop a headache. High levels of exposure cause vision impairment and death. In 2015, there were 393 deaths from carbon monoxide exposure in the U.S., with over one-third of the fatalities occurring in January, February, and December. Deaths are highest in winter because home owners rely on their heating systems.
The best way to curb risk is with a carbon monoxide detector. Look for a plug-in CO detector to receive 24/7 CO protection and not worry about replacing the batteries. Then keep your heating system tuned up to reduce your risk.
Toxins in the home cause poisoning in pets and adults. Even if you've got child locks on kitchen cabinets, there may be toxins you haven't considered. If you have pets, brush up on what's toxic to cats and dogs. Common holiday flowers, like the poinsettia or the Easter lily, can be fatal if ingested.
If you have children, place toxins out of reach or use a lock. Don't overlook personal care products, paints, or household detergents. Dishwashing or laundry detergent pods can look like candy, tempting youngsters.
By taking action today to reduce your risk of these four home hazards, you can protect your family and enjoy peace of mind.