Next to our highways, homes are the site for more accidents each year than any other setting. Home injuries number about 2.7 million annually with the numbers continuing to rise. We take a lot for granted in our daily lives and never expect to experience a serious problem when carrying out every day chores in our own home. But it takes very little to cause an accident that could cost you thousands in medical bills. Here are ten simple ways to avoid accidents and keep your home safe for the entire family.
• It’s convenient to have a ladder around the house when a ceiling bulb needs to be changed or leaves are clogging exterior gutters. When we talk about ladders most people are aware of the dangers involved with a ladder on unstable footing. But what about stepladders? Because stepladders are close to the ground we tend to ignore the same precautions we use for full size ladders. Like their counterparts, stepladders should always be placed on a flat, stable surface. Wear proper shoes when using a stepladder. Wedged or heeled shoes on stepladders can result in a loss of footing and a terrible fall. You may not have far to drop but who knows what you could hit on the way down.
• If you purchase a pretty scatter rug for your home that perfectly matches your décor, be sure to examine the back of it as closely as the front. Does it have treads that will prevent it from slipping on the floor? Shower and bath mats should also offer the same non-skid safety feature.
• Wipe up spills on hardwood, tile and stone flooring before they cause a fall.
• If you live in a two-story house, don’t collect toys or other items at the foot of the stairs with the intention of taking them up on your next trip. Clutter on the steps could cause an unsuspecting family member to trip and fall. Instead, keep a box or basket at the foot of the stairs to contain the items.
• Install proper lighting for visibility in the home at night. Nightlights can provide just enough illumination on stairs and in hallways to avoid potential problems. This is especially important if there are elderly in the home with eyesight issues.
Three typical ways for poisons to enter the body are ingestion, through the skin, and inhaling. Although many of us are making efforts to use “green” products, we still may find ourselves using cleaners in the home that can be a potential threat. Some products like oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, and furniture polish contain ingredients that can cause respiratory problems and irritate the skin and eyes. Even nail polish remover, hair spray and shampoos can affect some individuals.
Know what you’re dealing with. Read the labels on containers and the directions for the action you should take in case of emergency. Follow these steps to minimize the chance of poisoning in your home.
• Sometimes we buy products with spray nozzles that don’t really work so we transfer the product to a different container. If it’s necessary to do this, copy the information from the original container and tape it on the new container. In an emergency you may want to refer to this information to know what to do in case of accidental ingestion or exposure to the eyes.
• Using different cleaning products together is a dangerous practice. For instance, you might use a cleaner for mold in your shower then follow it with a product designed to remove hard water stains. Combining chemicals can produce gases that may be harmful. Between product applications, wash down surfaces thoroughly to eliminate mixing chemicals. If possible use the second product on a different day.
• Protect your hands with gloves and your skin with proper clothing when cleaning and especially when spraying products.
• Wear safety glasses when using cleaning chemicals with a scrub brush to prevent the product from splashing the eyes.
• Keep children away from household cleaning products and prescription drugs. Don’t take medication in front of small children, as they might want to mimic you, which may result in them swallowing a harmful drug. Also keep bathroom products like shampoos and soaps out of their reach. While most shampoos could not be considered poison, they can cause sever symptoms if ingested, like vomiting or diarrhea.
Call 911 in the event of a serious home injury.
If accidental poisoning is suspected, call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.