How Safe is Your Home?

Having a safe environment where your family can grow and thrive is a top priority. Thankfully, though a number of serious safety hazards lurk around the average home, most of them can be easily addressed.

Reference these common safety hazards in your home for quick, simple solutions to keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way.

1. Falls

One of the most common household hazards is injuries that occur from falling. Wet floors, slippery stairs, and scattered toys all create the potential for falls.

Safety suggestions:

  • Stabilize Staircases

Make sure all staircases have solid handrails, securely affixed flooring, adequate lighting, and safety gates if there are small children in the home.

  • Clear Outdoor Steps

Keep all outside stairs clear of debris and hazards like ice and snow. Add secured mats or grip tape to make surfaces less slippery.

  • Secure Bathrooms

Secure rugs to avoid slipping and water pooling on slick surfaces.  Applying Non-slop stickers is another good way to keep everyone in your home from slipping in the shower.

  • Corral Toys

Provide an easy access space for kids to stow their toys and make sure every playdate ends without injury. Secure skateboards, bikes, and other mobile toys in a safe area where family members and visitors won’t trip on them.

  • Install Supports

Install safety rails to help family members both young and old safely get in and out of the shower.

2. Fires

There are tens of thousands of fires in homes each year, causing everything from mild smoke damage to total devastation, including loss of life. Even candles or an unattended iron could lead to an accidental fire in your home, but there is a lot you can do to prevent a fire from getting out of hand.

Safety Suggestions:

  • Install Fire Alarms

Install fire alarms on all floors of your home, and check and change the batteries annually. Consider investing in a smart smoke detector.

  • Monitor Candles

Never leave candles unattended or near loose cloth such as drapes or blankets. Also, make sure they are out of reach of children and that pets can’t knock them over.

  • Unplug Appliances

Avoid an electrical fire by making sure that all appliances are in good working order and no wires are frayed. Don’t overload electrical outlets, either. In fact, it’s a smart practice to unplug small appliances like toasters when not in use.

  • Invest in a Fire Extinguisher

Keep at least one fire extinguisher in your home and check it annually to verify it is in good working order and up to date. Keep a multi-purpose fire extinguisher handy in the kitchen or near the fireplace.

3. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Low exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) can cause headaches and dizziness, while high levels can lead to vomiting, impaired vision, and even death. Carbon monoxide is virtually impossible to detect by smell, sight, or sound, making it a difficult threat to discern. But there are things you can do to ward off CO-related injuries.

Safety suggestions:

  • Install a CO Detector

You can help keep your family safe by installing a carbon monoxide detector that alerts you if CO reaches dangerous levels in your home. A detector that plugs into an electrical outlet can provide extra reassurance and saves you from needing to change batteries.

  • Keep Up Home Maintenance

Prevent carbon monoxide leaks by having your HVAC system, water heater, and other appliances that use gas, oil, or coal serviced by a professional every year. Before buying a home, it is imperative that you have these systems inspected before purchase.

4. Choking

Choking is a large cause of accidental death. From a bit of dinner going down the wrong way to a youngster accidentally swallowing a small item, choking is scary. Educate yourself about choking hazards and take measures to keep your family safe.

Safety suggestions:

  • Inspect Toys

Regularly inspect toys for any loose parts. Scour floors for small toys or items where little hands might easily find them.

  • Keep Dangers Out of Reach

Be sure to keep small, hard foods like nuts or candies out of reach of children. Pay special attention at adult gatherings where children can more easily sneak something unnoticed.

  • Monitor Playtime

Even if your child is no longer an infant, a baby monitor can still come in handy. Use this gadget to listen in for signs of choking when children are playing in another room.

  • Cut Up Food

For children under the age of four, always cut up hard foods that can block airways. The same applies to softer foods like grapes, cherry tomatoes, and hot dogs.

5. Cuts

There are a number of common items with sharp edges that are used inside and outside your home. Everything from an opened can to a garden hoe can present danger.

Safety suggestions:

  • Close the Trash

Use a locking garbage can to protect small fingers and pets from finding sharp edges on opened cans and lids.

  • Store Kitchen Supplies

Knives, graters, and peelers are common items that can lead to nasty cuts. Properly store all sharp kitchen tools and lock them up if you have small children in the home.

  • Put Away Yard Tools

Lawn tools, including rakes, saws, and lawn mowers, can be harmful if not used and stored properly. Stay alert when using power tools and always take necessary time while mowing the lawn or using the weed whacker. Never leave tools lying around and always keep them locked in a shed or garage where kids can’t access them.

  • Lock the Bathroom

If you use a razor, keep it on a high shelf or locked in a cabinet. Store extra blades in drawers with safety guards and keep other grooming tools like cuticle scissors safely stowed as well. Install child safety locks wherever possible and keep little fingers away from dangerous implements.

  • Point Knives and Forks Down

Keep little ones safe from sharp points by pointing knives and forks downward in the utensil basket of the dishwasher. Place the basket away from the front of the dishwasher as well, to make sharp objects even less accessible.

6. Poisoning

Several household items present poisoning hazards, including cleaning and home maintenance supplies. However, a little diligence and the right knowledge can decrease the chance of anyone in your family becoming a victim.

Safety suggestions:

  • Store Medications Properly

Both over-the-counter and prescription medications need to be kept away from youth. Dispose of all unused medications and never leave them out on a counter.

  • Keep Paint Out of Reach

Even paint that isn’t lead based needs to be properly stored and kept out of reach of children. Never put paint in a container other than the one it came in, otherwise your child may mistake it for a drink or other item.

  • Make Sure Chemicals Are Secure

Protect both children and pets from accidental poisoning by cleaning supplies. Keep all household cleaners in a high cupboard with a safety lock to keep kids and animals from accidentally finding them. Lock up pesticides and items like turpentine in a cupboard or lockbox in the garage or shed.

  • Put Away Personal Products

Keep all makeup, hair products, soaps, and other personal products out of the reach of children and pets. Use safety latches on all doors and drawers to help keep even the most determined youngsters out.

  • Lock Up Detergent

As with all household cleaners, keep detergent locked out of reach of pets and kids. If you use detergent pods, make sure children don’t mistake them for candy. Never fill the soap dispenser until you’re ready to start a load and always check your dishwasher for leftover residue after each cycle.

7. Strangling

Cords on window dressings like blinds or curtains present a common strangling hazard to small children and infants. Here are a few ways you can help make your home safer for little ones.

Safety suggestions:

  • Put Cords Away

Keep window and electrical cords out of reach of little ones. Never place a crib or bed under a window with dangling cords.

  • Trim or Remove Window Cords

To keep children from getting tangled up, trim cords to a length that is only accessible to the adults in the home.

  • Wrap Them Up

If you’re not ready to redecorate, you can make your home safe by installing blind cord wraps to your current window coverings.

8. Drowning

Drowning is not just an outdoor risk, it applies indoor too and can also present a hazard in the home. Deaths from drowning in a bathtub have increased in the past decade, so do your part to prevent this from occurring.

Safety suggestions:

  • Put Away Buckets

If you use buckets for cleaning, keep them empty and away from water sources. 

  • Attend to Bathing Children

It only takes a few inches of water for a child or infant to drown, so never leave a child unattended in the bathtub, and always close the toilet lid.

9. Burns

Burns can be caused by both dishwashers and stoves. These convenient appliances pose risks, especially to small children. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can help ensure no one in your family is burned.

Safety suggestions:

  • Latch the Dishwasher

Make sure your dishwasher is securely latched at all times and can’t be opened by curious fingers, particularly at the end of a cycle when burns from steam are most likely to occur.

  • Use Back Burners

Most burns occur in the home and workplace, and children and women are most likely to suffer a burn in the kitchen. Use the back burners whenever possible. This makes it more difficult for kids to accidentally touch a hot stovetop. Never rest tempting items like cookies or toys on the stovetop, even when it’s not in use.

  • Add Stove Knob Covers

Stoves—especially gas ones—are the perfect place for something to accidentally catch on fire. Protect your home from a potential fire by adding stove knob covers. They keep small hands from turning on burners or grownups from inadvertently knocking burners to the “on” position.

Nothing is more important than keeping your family safe. Knowing what to look out for and which precautions to take makes your job as family protector a little easier, but no one can be on duty all the time, so you may want to get some help with a monitored security system. Most current systems offer home automation and remote access so you can make sure everything is okay as often as you want.

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