Often, our home is where we feel the safest. But, an accident can happen anywhere – even within our own homes. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 245 people die of unintentional injuries in homes and communities every day. The Council found that some of the leading causes of accidental injury deaths in the United States were: Poisonings, falls, choking, and fires, flames or smoke.
Families need to be aware of these dangers in order to keep their family’s safety a number one priority.
Accidental injuries and deaths at home can be avoided with the proper preventative measures.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), two children die each day because of poisoning – with cleaning products being the most common poison. The CDC states that more than 300 children are sent to US emergency room every day because of everyday items within our home – including household cleaners, medicines, and personal care products. To protect your home, the CDC advises families to lock up any medicines and toxic items, out of the reach of young children. Further, routinely dispose of all unneeded and unused products that may pose a threat to your family. If a poisoning does occur, the CDC advises you to do the following:
1. Call 911 if the victim has collapses or is not breathing. If the victim is conscious and alert, dial 1-800-222-1222 for poison control and relay the following information:
- The victim’s age and weight;
- The container of the poison;
- The time of the exposure;
- And, the address where the poisoning occurred.
2. Stay on the phone with the emergency operator or poison control center and remember to stay calm.
Approximately 8.9 million trips are made to the ER each year in the United States due to slips and falls, the National Safety Council states. Common locations for falls include: ramps, doorways, ladders, stairs, cluttered hallways, uneven surfaces, and areas prone to wetness or spills. The National Safety Council suggests families to do the following to prevent falls within their home:
- Routinely check the condition of frequently used walkways and steps – and repair any damage found immediately.
- Secure all electrical cords out of routinely used walking areas.
- Clean up all spills immediately.
- Install handrails or guards on all staircases or heightened surfaces.
According to the National Safety Council, suffocation and choking are the third leading cause of home and community deaths in the US. The Council states that choking can obviously happen to anyone, but children under the age of three are particularly vulnerable due to small objects such as toys, coins, or small food items. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests families keep toys intended for older children away from young children. Additionally, always check under furniture and between cushions for small items that children could potentially put in their mouth. The Academy states that food accounts for over 50% if choking episodes and advises families to keep the following foods away from children who are under the age of 4:
- Chewing gum
- Whole grapes
- Hot dogs
- Peanut butter
- Hard or sticky candy
Fires, Flames, or Smoke
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that 85% of all US fire deaths in 2009 occurred in the home – with cooking being the primary cause of residential fires. Fortunately, the National Safety Council believes there are several things you can do to keep your family safe from fires:
- Have a properly working smoke alarm – testing it monthly. Change the battery to your alarms at least once a year. Make sure your family is familiar with the sound of the fire alarm.
- Have a family escape route and practice it on a monthly basis with everyone in your family.
- Know how to use your fire extinguisher and where it is kept. Check the extinguisher regularly to make sure it is properly functioning. Always call your local fire department if you have any questions on extinguisher use.
- If possible, install a home sprinkler system.
For more information on how to keep your family safe at home, please visit the following links:
- National Safety Council, Home and Recreational Safety – http://www.nsc.org/safety_home/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Pages/HomeandRecreationalSafety.aspx#in%20the%20home
- Centers for Disease Control, Protect the Ones Your Love, Safe Child Safe Home – http://www.cdc.gov/safechild/
- Healthychildren.org from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Safety & Prevention at Home: http://www.healthychildren.org/english/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/default.aspx