The home should be a safe haven. However, millions of people suffer non-fatal injuries each year at home. Home injuries may include but are not limited to falls, poisoning, burns, choking and drowning. The good news is that home injury risk can be reduced through awareness and preparedness.
The three most common household injuries are falls, poisoning and burns.
Falls. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), falls are the cause of 8.9 million trips to emergency rooms in the United States each year. Older adults are four times more likely to die from a fall. Fall awareness includes knowing where falls are likely to occur in a home. Typically, fall locations are stairs, ramps, cluttered hallways, any uneven surface, and wet and slippery areas such as bathroom tile, tubs or showers.
Fall prevention. To prevent falls, clean spills or entryways damp from rain or snow immediately. Refrain from standing on chairs to reach upper cabinets, and never stand on anything with wheels. Use non-skid, sturdy stepladders for reaching heights. Keep all cords out of walkways, and remove debris from stairs, which could cause someone to trip. Place non-skid mat under throw rugs.
Poisoning. Poisoning from items such as medicines and carbon monoxide cause more than one-half of all home-related unintentional injury deaths. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs, along with the ingestion of cleaning and personal care products, are the most common forms of home poisoning. The NSC reports that 80 percent of accidental poisonings happen when a child “eats or swallows over-the-counter and prescription medicines when an adult wasn’t watching.”
Poisoning prevention. Check carbon monoxide detectors regularly to make sure they work properly. Keep all medications, vitamins, cleaning products and personal care items out of reach and secured from young children. Never pretend medicine is candy to get your child to take it when he or she is sick. Medicine is medicine, and children should be taught it is taken only when supervised by a trusted adult. Always double-check the safety lock on every medicine bottle to make sure it is locked after each use. Post the toll-free poison control number near each phone in your home and program it into cell phones. The number is 1-800-222-1222.
Burns. The kitchen and bathroom can be the two most dangerous rooms in a home concerning burns. Scalds are the most common burns received at home. A scald may come from too-hot bath or shower water, hot drinks or steam from food such as a meal heated in the microwave. Scalds also can happen when the cover of the microwave-cooked dish is removed. Other burns may be caused by chemicals, flames and sun exposure.
Burn prevention. Prevent sunburn by always wearing sunscreen and protective clothing outdoors. Never leave children alone in a room with burning candles or a fire in the fireplace. Supervise kids at all times near hot stoves, food and drinks. Wear protective gloves when working with any household chemicals.