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June is National Safety Month – Make your home safer with these cheap/free tips

Home sweet home. Whether a big mansion or a studio apartment, there is no place like home. It provides us with comfort and relaxation. Home is where we feel safe. But have you really checked how safe your home is, in terms of injury prevention? June is national safety month, so lets talk home safety tips today!

According to The State of Home Safety in America™ – the largest and most comprehensive study of injuries at home:

  • Home-related injuries result in nearly 21 million medical visits and almost 20,000 deaths annually.
  • Each year, preventable injuries are the fifth leading cause of death overall.
  • Each year, preventable injuries, specifically in the home:
    • Are 2.5 times more likely to cause injury than car crashes.
    • Cost our nation up to $380 billion.

A lot of us talk about safety precautions and emergency preparedness, but very few do something about it. June is Home Safety Month – a perfect time to refresh our memories on basic safety precautions and put our ideas about safety into action.

The leading causes of Home Injury include falls, poisonings, fires/burns, choking/suffocation and drowning/dubmersion. Injury-proofing your home need not be expensive. Here are some free/cheap home safety tips to protect you and your loved ones from injuries and make your home a safe haven.

Home safety tips to prevent falls

Falling-related injuries are the overall leading cause of non-fatal, unintentional injuries for people of all ages. An average of 3.8 million residential fall injuries resulting in an emergency room visit occur every year.

Ways to reduce your risk :

  1. Use a double sided carpet tape to fix the area rugs in place. Better, don’t use area rugs at all.
  2. Place rubber suction bathmat or no slip floor strips in the bath tub and use the grab bar to get in and out of the bath tub/shower.
  3. Have a bathmat with non skid bottom outside the shower to avoid getting the floor wet.
  4. Use all the lights available when using the stairs. If there is not enough lighting, get those LED lights that can attach anywhere. Like these - Self-Adhesive LED Light.
  5. Place all the exposed cables/wires/cords along the wall and cover them if possible using a Cable/Cord Concealer to prevent tripping.
  6. Secure heavy book-shelves and the entertainment center to the wall. You can get inexpensive L-brackets at your local hardware store or, if you bought your furniture from Ikea, you can get them for free at their customer service desk.
  7. Use toddler gates at the top and bottom of the stairs if there are small children in the house.

Poisonings

Poisoning is the second leading cause of home injury. In 2008, U.S. poison centers received nearly 2.5 million human poison exposure calls, 1.7 million poison information calls, and over 130,000 non-human exposure calls.

home sweet home

Ways to reduce your risk :

  1. Keep all chemicals (including medicines, cosmetics and cleaners) away from a child’s reach.
  2. Keep all the household cleaning supplies and medicines in their original packages. Read the labels and know the toxic levels.
  3. Add the National poison center number to your cell phone address book (1-800-222-1222) and keep them near your home phone. For unconscious patients, convolutions, or any difficulty in  breathing, call 9-1-1. Some states like North Carolina offer free stickers/magnets to post this information in a prominent place.
  4. Schedule a home safety inspection to check your appliances are operating safely and efficiently. This will also save money on your gas bill. Most gas companies do this for free or for a very low price. For example, Southern CA residents can get this inspection done for free (check pg 23 in the linked document). Call your local gas company for more information.
  5. Install a carbon monoxide detector. They range from $20-$40. If you cannot afford one, please contact your local fire department using the NON-emergency number. Some of them provide it for free. This would be a great time to call your fire department to check out their programs.
  6. Test your home for radon : exposure to radon causes cancer. Check here for map of radon zones. Radon test kits are available from several sources.  Free test kits are sometimes available from local or county health departments, or from state radon programs.
  7. Don’t save medicine. Discard all leftover medications by flushing them down the toilet.

Residential Fires/Burns

Residential fires and burns are the third leading cause of unintentional home injury deaths and the ninth leading cause of home injuries resulting in an emergency room visit.

Ways to reduce your risk :

  1. Install smoke detectors on every level of your house. Replace the smoke alarm every 10 yrs. Test them frequently, and replace their batteries once a year. If you cannot afford one, contact your local fire department. They might have some program (like the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services or the Georgetown fire department) to distribute and install a smoke alarm for free especially for high risk groups.
  2. Buy fire extinguishers that will work on all types of fires, these are called A-B-C type extinguishers. Mount the extinguisher near an exit door, easily accessible but out of reach of children.
  3. Know how to use the fire extinguisher. Check with your local fire department to see if they will offer training.
  4. Don’t keep flammable things near your fireplace or space heaters.
  5. Try to use battery operated candles instead of the real ones.
  6. Set the hot water heater to 120 degrees to reduce energy costs and prevent scalding while bathing.
  7. Have your own fire escape plan and practice it with the kids. Use this Home Fire Escape Plan Worksheet to plan your safe escape.
  8. Here is a Home Fire Safety Inventory (pdf courtesy of Washington Township Fire dept.) to help with kick starting your home fire safety.

Choking/Suffocation

In the blink of an eye, a child can swallow something small and choke. But you can prevent it with a few simple precautions.

Ways to reduce your risk :

  1. Check your crib and make sure its a good one; www.recall.gov. Remove any pillows, toys or sheets from the crib.
  2. If an object can fit in through a toilet paper tube, its a chocking hazard. Keep these in a place where a child can’t reach.
  3. Watch children when they are eating. Cut the food into small pieces.
  4. Check if your child’s toys are age appropriate. If your child is younger than the recommended age mentioned on the toy label, it should be removed.
  5. Tie up the window blind cords out of a child’s reach. Or if you have roman-style shades and roll-up blinds you can get free retrofit kits from the Window Covering Safety Council.

Home safety tips to prevent Drowning

Of the drownings that occur in the home environment, 80% of those affected are of children ages 4 and under, and most of these occur in home swimming pools and bathtubs.

Ways to reduce your risk :

  1. If you have a pool or a spa, install a fence that goes all the way around.
  2. Never let a child swim alone, or let him/her play in the bath tub or even a big bucket of water. Always stay close to the child.
  3. Always keep the gate to the pool locked.
  4. Drain the bath tub  and empty water buckets as soon as you are done using them. Store the buckets upside down.
  5. Use toilet seat locks to keep them shut.
  6. Use an outside lock to the bathroom to keep young children out of the bathroom.

This could also be a good time to learn CPR and put together a first aid kit. Check if your local community organizations are offering free CPR training or get a free online Standard First Aid, CPR and AED (offered June 1-7 only).

You can find more tips at the Home Safety Council. And don’t forget to compile a list of emergency and important telephone numbers to keep handy. Use the attached PDF file to help you start with the emergency contact list. Now is a good time to get everything in order and enjoy your sweet and safe home!

Emergency Contact List

 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Little House

These are great tips. Years ago National Geographic released a graphic showing the most common ways to die and falling was number one! I’d definitely say make sure the bathroom is slip-proof and the stairs are well lit without any worn carpet to trip on.

As for fire extinguishers, we just used ours last month! Thank goodness we had one – an incense oil burner ignited and it would have spread quickly without the use of the extinguisher. Thanks for sharing these tips!

Reply

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter

This is a great post Suba. Sadly I haven’t thought about many of these scenarios. I am definitely going to use this as my list to go by.

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Hunter

Great resource Suba. I couldn’t help thinking about my children while reading through the top caused of injury. It’s terrifying what could potentially happen if the precautions are not taken.

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Robert @ The College Investor

Great tips, especially about taping the rug down. I can’t believe how many times I have slipped on a rug on our hardwood!

Reply

Squirrelers

Great set of tips, Suba! Well done.

Totally agree on the rugs. As people get older, and injury risks from falling could be worse, it’s important to either do away with such area rugs or secure them very well.

Also, great point on blinds and kids. Babies or especially toddlers can wander toward these in a hurry, and in their curiousity can get tangled up.

Reply

Moneycone

Nice comprehensive list! Don’t forget to change batteries on your smoke detectors. Make it a habit to do so during day light saving change.

Reply

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