From Roof to Basement: Keeping Your Household Safe


Firefighters climbing on a metal roof to put our a blazing fire.

More than 160,000 Americans die each year in an accident, and 75% of those deaths are due to accidents that occur in the home. Outdoor mishaps involving ladders and lawnmowers happen, but the indoors also presents hazards. Many accidents happen in the kitchen or bathroom, but they can (and do) occur anywhere in the home. Luckily, preparation and thought can mitigate the risk.



Fire Safety

Once a fire begins, residents may only have two minutes to exit the home. Having a solid fire safety plan can save lives when smoke obscures sightlines and fear takes over.

  • All levels of a home need a smoke detector. They also should be installed near bedrooms and kitchens.
  • Test fire alarms monthly, and change the batteries twice a year.
  • Create a fire escape plan and practice it regularly with all members of the family.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas. It’s dangerous because it replaces oxygen in the blood. Anything that burns fuel, including household furnaces, fireplaces, gas appliances, generators, and cars, can release carbon monoxide.

  • The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, vomiting, chest pain, weakness, and confusion.
  • Vents for stoves, fireplaces, dryers, and furnaces should be well-maintained and kept clean at all times. Check roof vents regularly.
  • Don’t run car engines in confined spaces.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors.

Water/Drowning

Homeowners with pools need to be especially diligent to prevent drowning and other water-based accidents, but people (especially children) can drown in very little water, even in a bathtub.

  • Never leave a baby or toddler unattended in the tub for any length of time.
  • Don’t leave containers of water unattended.
  • People with young children should consider installing a toilet locking device along with doorknob covers to prevent children from entering bathrooms without adult assistance.

Safety in the Kitchen

Kitchens are full of hazardous chemicals and equipment. Knives, hot stoves, bacteria, cleaning products, and heavy objects all present dangers. Following basic safety rules in the kitchen will prevent injury and help people maintain clean, efficient kitchens.

  • Encourage everyone to wear shoes in the kitchen. It will reduce the chance of falling and protect feet from dropped knives or hot splatters.
  • Store knives safely out of the reach of children,
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove to keep children from pulling on them and keep the pot handles from catching on the cook’s clothes.
  • Clean up all spills immediately.
  • Keep cleaning products out of the reach of children.

Poison

Perfume, toilet bowl cleaner, laundry detergent pods, and medications can all be poisonous and are all commonly found around the house.

  • Keep the poison help number, 1-800-222-1222, posted in your home and saved in your cell phone. If you need to call, be prepared to tell them the age and weight of the victim, and if possible, have the packaging for what they swallowed with you so you can share the information with Poison Control.
  • Store all medicines where children and teens can’t access them. Make sure everyone knows they should only take prescription medication if it was prescribed to them.
  • Store chemicals and medicines in their original bottles.
  • Don’t mix chemicals. Ammonia and bleach, for example, make a poisonous gas if combined.

Gun Safety

A child as young as 3 has the strength needed to pull a trigger. Parents often believe their child has been raised to be safe around guns, but it’s better to keep your children out of situations that can lead to tragedy.

  • Keep guns in a locked safe.
  • Store ammunition and guns separately.
  • Teach your kids never to touch a gun for any reason.
  • Never leave a firearm unattended.

Falls

Tens of thousands of people die of a fall every year in the United States. Senior citizens are especially vulnerable to falling (30 million older Americans fall annually), and they are also more prone to severe injury or death caused by a fall.

  • Remove clutter from floors.
  • Avoid small scatter rugs.
  • Encourage everyone to wear non-slip shoes in the home.
  • Make sure hallways and staircases are well-lit.
  • Make sure clothing fits well; loose or long pants can easily trip someone up.

Toy Safety

It’s crucial that all toys be age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate. Not only will the children enjoy these toys more, but they will also be safer.

  • Toys should be in good repair.
  • Beware of toys that include magnets in homes with young children.
  • Children younger than 10 shouldn’t play with toys that must be plugged into an outlet while using them.
  • Broken or uninflated balloons can suffocate young children and should be kept out of reach.

Child/Infant Safety

Homes should be prepared to be safe for any babies or young children who spend time there. If there are toddlers in the house, sit on the floor and consider the home from their viewpoint.

  • Buy newer cribs and other baby equipment made to conform to the most current safety standards.
  • Many babies love swings, but it’s crucial to properly secure the baby in the swing and never leave it unattended.
  • Use outlet covers in unused power outlets.
  • Anchor televisions, dressers, bookcases, mirrors, and other weighty objects to the wall.
  • Keep second-floor windows locked.
  • Use baby gates at the top and bottom of staircases.

Additional Safety Resources


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