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Keeping “Home Sweet Home” Safe

Although we consider our homes safe and peaceful, dangers readily exist. Statistically we are more likely to experience a serious injury in our own residences than in many other settings. According to the National Safety Council, a shocking 28,800 deaths happen annually as the result of household injuries. Slips, trips and falls account for most incidents. Other hazards- fire, accidental poisoning and carbon monoxide exposure claim countless victims each year.

How can we safeguard against dwelling dangers?

Fall Protection:

Even stairs with a few risers can be dangerous. Keep stairways toy and clutter-free. Handrails should be properly mounted on both sides and used regularly. Repair or replace loose or frayed carpeting. Implement motion sensor lighting outdoors along stairwells, or in other poorly lit areas.

Flash lights should be accessible in several locations in case of power outages. Use nightlights and illuminated light switches throughout the home. In icy or slick conditions outdoors, keep walking surfaces cleared off and well lit.

Dangers in the bathroom due to slipping are plentiful. Reduce accidents with rubberized bath mats and non-slip carpeting. Handrails in tubs or near toilets are beneficial, especially for young children and elderly.

In the kitchen or by entry ways, keep rubber backed rugs.


Always keep several charged fire extinguishers readily available. Opt for at least one on each level, in the kitchen, and in areas with fireplaces. In most of the home, ABC fire extinguishers will suffice.

Remember the ABC’s of fire extinguishers when purchasing.

  • “A” stands for Class A fires that produce “Ashes”- such as wood or paper.
  • “B” for “Boiling” liquids (like gasoline).
  • “C” is capable of extinguishing electrical fires –think “Cord”.

In the kitchen, elect for a Class K extinguisher suitable for grease fires. Don’t ever use an ABC fire extinguisher in proximity of chlorine or pool chemicals. A toxic reaction occurs when mixed with the ammonia in ABC extinguishers. Likewise, don’t use water to put out a grease fire. Teach your family the PASS method (Pull pin, Aim at the center, Squeeze trigger and Sweep back and forth) as well as locations of extinguishers.

Curtains, towels, bedding should be kept away from hot surfaces. Practice safe supervision of children in kitchen. Turn handles of hot pots inward, to reduce burns. Candles and space heaters often cause household fires. Don’t leave a room with a lit candle unattended. Purchase space heaters that have a safeguard mechanism when tipped. Keep fireplace chimneys clean. Use guards or screens to prevent logs from rolling off, as well as a fireproof matt for sparks that fly. Obtain a portable emergency escape ladder for second story rooms.

Carbon Monoxide:

Improper use of gas generators, camping stoves or heaters can produce a lethal, odorless, tasteless gas. Never utilize these items in the confines of a home for heating purposes. Other sources of CO2 are common home appliances, like gas or oil furnaces, gas dryers, ranges and water heaters. A by-product of combustion, carbon monoxide occurs where fuel is burned. Hence, fireplaces or wood burning stoves can also produce this toxic gas. Teach your family the effects of carbon monoxide- weakness, nausea, headaches or dizziness. Install a good detector near sleeping areas and replace batteries frequently.

Accidental Poisoning:

More than 160,000 injures occur yearly from accidental poisonings or toxic chemical contact. Install cabinet and drawer latches. Keep cleaning supplies in one secure place and up high, away from small children. Medicines should be stored in properly labeled containers, also in a latched cabinet. Have access to emergency phone numbers for Poison Control. In case of accidental ingestion or exposure to a hazardous substance, be sure to give the product in its packaging to emergency responders.

Safety Tips for All Families:

Obtain a good quality first aid kit. Make certain it’s well stocked with various sized bandages, anti-biotic cream and burn spray along with a clear first aid manual. Take time to become familiar with its contents. Consider taking a CPR or first aid class.

Establish a meeting place for your family if they must evacuate. Find and designate shelter areas for severe weather. Practice exit routes and seeking shelter with your family a few times a year. Children need repetition to learn these necessary skills. Work with kids on how to crawl below smoke to safety.

Always maintain 72 hours of emergency supplies on hand. Keep contact numbers for insurance agencies, rescue services and family members posted throughout the house. Take photos or videos of valuables and store in a safety deposit box or flame retardant safe. Teach kids how and when to dial 911.

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