The Top 5 Causes of Home-Related Accidents
By Michael Pines, Accident & Injury Prevention Expert
Our homes should be private sanctuaries of comfort, security and relaxation. But every year, more than 18,000 individuals in the United States die from home-related accidents – a sobering reminder to all Americans that homes are only safe with our efforts.
When it comes to household safety, here’s what you can do to keep you and your family safe.
Ladders, step stools, stairs, shower stalls and chairs are just some of ways people fall in their home. Irregularities like uneven flooring, poorly installed doors and door jams, and loose hardwood or tile can also contribute to unintentional fall-related accidents. According to the Home Safety Council, falling is the leading cause of deaths in the home, claiming nearly 6,000 lives annually.
Make sure your home is to code. An InterNACHI-certified inspector can make sure your home meets current safety standards while making recommendations for safety improvements.
Install grab bars in showers and bath tubs. Some of the worst falls can happen in the shower or tub. Soap and slippery tile is no match against bare feet. Slipping in the shower or tub can also lead to some of the most catastrophic injuries, and in elderly, can even lead to death.
Always supervise children. Kids are more prone to falling from their naturally adventurous nature. But sometimes, unintentional offenders like kiddy seats and high chairs can cause the worst of household-related falls. Always use safety belts on any child seating and never leave a child unattended.
Poisoning is the second-leading cause of accidental death in the home. Nearly 5,000 people die from ingesting poisonous substances – but sometimes medication can also be the culprit to accidental deaths. Individuals who suspect accidental poisoning can call the Poison Help hotline at (800) 222-1222.
Cabinet locks. Store potentially poisonous substances such as ant spray, rodent repellant, antifreeze or bleach in a secured cabinet. While you can install a lock, basic spring action levers installed on the top of any cabinet door is also a great deterrent for households with children.
Don’t mix medicines or combine them with alcohol. Overdosing or mixing medications is the top cause of household poisoning accidents for young and middle-aged people. Always follow doctor recommendations for your medicines and avoid mixing any meds with alcohol.
Household fires claim more than 3,000 lives annually. Home fires can be the product of cooking, electrical outlet burn-out, short-circuiting, washer and dryer overheating, poorly maintained water heaters or furnaces or through other household mishaps.
Smoke alarms. Your home should be well-equipped with smoke alarms in every room and outside of each sleeping area. An InterNACHI-certified home inspector can make sure your home is equipped to code with properly installed smoke alarms.
Choking, Suffocation, Strangulation
Nearly 1,000 individuals suffer some form of airway obstruction, making choking, suffocation and strangulation the fourth-most leading cause of accidental home deaths. Young children are of particular concern when it comes to airway obstruction.
Safe sleeping environment. Children should always be placed in a crib free of stuffed animals, loose blankets and crib bumpers. Suffocation can quickly become an issue when the crib is crowded with other items. Keep it free from any clutter whatsoever. And, older children should never sleep with small objects that can accidentally be swallowed.
Drowning is the fifth-most leading cause of household deaths each year, accounting for nearly 800 fatalities annually. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to water-related household accidents and should be closely monitored around any standing water.
Backyard pool. Install at least a 4-foot high fence around a pool, bathtub, pond or spa in the backyard. Never allow a child to be unsupervised even if the fence is installed. Always be within arm’s reach of a small child when enjoying the pool area.
Bathtub. A child should never be left in a bathtub alone. Children can drown in as little as 1 inch of water, so let the phone ring and don’t answer the door – your child’s life may depend on it.
About Michael Pines
Michael Pines is a personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Michael Pines, APC in San Diego, California. He is an accident and injury prevention expert, on a campaign to end senseless injury one article at a time.
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