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Lifestyle & General Interest

10 Tips for a Safer Home

08/14/2023

Staying safe at home is paramount for everyone, as more than 156,300 preventable injury-related deaths occurred in homes in 2020 alone. Home safety is not just about protection from burglary, it’s also important to consider other dangers you may encounter at home — especially those that affect children and older adults.

Whether it’s a fall or a fire, there are plenty of dangers you or your family can experience in the home. Here are ten tips to prevent these disasters in the first place, and how to stay safe if the worst comes to fruition.

General Home Safety

While some safety tips are specific to certain areas, a few key safety measures apply to all homes.

Check Smoke Alarms and Other Detectors

Home structure fires can happen without warning, so it’s essential to be prepared. Smoke alarms are essential in alerting you and your family of a potential fire. Make sure to test them once a month, replace the batteries every year, and keep them away from kitchen appliances or other sources of steam to prevent false alarms. Carbon monoxide detectors should also be installed in areas with carbon monoxide build-up, such as near gas stovetops or furnaces.

Likewise, radiation detectors should be installed if you are near a nuclear plant or other areas of high radiation.

Press and hold the test button to test the detectors until you hear a loud sound. If they don’t sound, replace the batteries or contact a professional to come and repair them.

Keep a Fire Extinguisher

If a fire does start, it’s important to stop it before it grows any bigger with the help of fire extinguishers. To make them more readily available, place fire extinguishers across several areas of the home — typically in areas where a fire is most likely to start, such as the kitchen and garage, and on each level of the house. Before you install them, make sure everyone in your family knows how to use them and where to find them.

To use a fire extinguisher:

  • Pull the pin at the top of the cylinder and aim it toward the base of the fire.
  • Squeeze the handle to release a spray of fire-retardant chemicals onto the burning material.
  • Sweep back and forth until all flames are extinguished.

Regularly check your fire extinguishers for any wear or damage that could render them ineffective when needed.

Make a Fire Escape Plan

If a fire does grow and endanger your family, everyone must know what to do and where to go. This is when a fire escape plan comes in handy. A fire escape plan typically includes instructions on how to prepare a home in case an emergency does occur and how to react. For example:

  • Know two ways out of each room at all times.
  • Decide on a designated meeting place outside the home.
  • Have regular fire drills and make sure everyone knows how to stop, drop, and roll in case their clothes catch on fire.
  • Ensure all windows and doors can be opened quickly and easily from both sides in an emergency.
  • Check for obstacles, such as furniture or heavy curtains blocking easy access to potential exits.
  • Always keep a flashlight and spare batteries in an easily accessible place to help light the way in case of power outages.

Moreover, if you have children, ensure they know to never hide in a closet or under the bed in an emergency and keep a piece of clothing over their faces to prevent smoke inhalation.

Keep Security in Mind

Burglaries accounted for 16.1% of the estimated number of property crimes in 2019, and although this rate has decreased from previous years, it doesn’t mean you should overlook the possibility of a break-in.

When it comes to protecting your home, there are several steps you can take to deter criminals from targeting it:

  • Install deadbolts and window locks on all doors and windows.
  • Secure all sliding glass doors with a bar or wooden dowel inserted in the track.
  • Fit an alarm system with audible and silent alerts for someone entering the house.
  • Position security cameras, motion-sensing lights, and other similar items around the home to act as a visual deterrent.
  • Disable locks on gates or fences that could be used to access your property.
  • Ensure all ladder and garden tools are locked up and away from windows.
  • Finally, keep your valuables out of sight and invest in a safe for any items you don’t want to lose during a break-in.

With these steps, you can keep your home safe from any potential threats.

Home Safety for Kids

Accidents are the leading cause of injury and death for small children and teens, so taking extra steps is critical to ensure your home is safe. Here are a few tips you can use to protect your kids:

Securely Store Medications

It’s critical to ensure all medicines are kept in a safe, secure place where your children cannot access them. Put locks on the medicine cabinet and store medications out of reach of small hands. Additionally, never allow young children to handle any form of medication, even if it is over-the-counter.

Other ways to childproof medicine:

  • Keep all medicines in their original containers and clearly label them.
  • Dispose of any expired or unused medications as soon as possible.
  • Keep a list of all your family’s medicines and the dosage amounts to ensure they are not taken accidentally.
  • If your child is taking prescription medication, make sure you are following your doctor’s and pharmacist’s instructions.
  • Never leave children unsupervised in areas with hazards, such as bathrooms or kitchens.
  • Put safety latches and locks on cupboards that contain hazardous items.

Beyond these tips, consider talking with your children about medicines, potential dangers, and what to do if they ever find unfamiliar medicine in your house.

Baby-proof for Children Under Two

If you have a baby or toddler in the home, it’s best to take extra steps in childproofing your house. The most effective way of doing this is to get down to their level and identify potential hazards. Use the following steps to begin baby-proofing your house room by room:

  • Check for potential choking hazards and remove small objects like coins or beads.
  • Secure all furniture to the wall, especially dressers and bookcases, to prevent tipping over.
  • Cover sharp corners of furniture with corner guards or foam padding.
  • Install gates at the top and bottom of the stairs.
  • Put plugs in all unused electrical outlets.

Taking these steps gives your baby or toddler a safe environment to explore without worry.

Use Extra Caution With Water

Drowning is the leading cause of unintentional injury death for children ages 1 to 4 and the second leading cause of unintentional injury death for kids between 5 and 14. To prevent accidental drowning in your home, take these precautions:

  • Never leave a child unsupervised near any source of water.
  • If your child inhales water, take them to the emergency room immediately to treat dry drowning.
  • Ensure drains are covered with safety grates when not being used.
  • Put a fence or gate around any pool, hot tub, or body of water accessed from your house.
  • Teach your children how to swim at an early age and make sure they practice regularly.
  • Install alarms on all doors leading outside so you can hear if someone goes out without permission.
  • Make sure life vests and floaties are available for your children when swimming.

Likewise, have a conversation with your children about safety around water and why you have these rules and precautions in place.

Home Safety for Older Adults

With aging comes an increased risk of falls and other potential dangers, so it’s important to consider a few factors to ensure your home is safe for older adults. Here are a few tips to follow.

Fall-proof Your Home

Annually, millions of older adults fall — more than one in four — with most neglecting to tell their doctors. Because falling once doubles your chances of falling again, it’s critical to fall-proof your home with the following tips:

  • Install handrails on both sides of staircases and ensure they are securely fastened.
  • Use non-skid mats or rugs wherever possible to reduce tripping hazards.
  • Store items on lower shelves where they can be more easily accessed without stretching.
  • Ensure all walkways and areas with potential traffic are well-lit at night.
  • Remove any clutter from floors, hallways, and rooms to prevent obstacles from being bumped into or tripped over.
  • Ensure that furniture is sturdy and will not tip over.
  • Inspect stairs for loose or uneven steps and install safety gates if needed.
  • Consider installing a personal alarm system to contact someone quickly if you need help or have an emergency.

These simple steps reduce the risk of falling and provide greater peace of mind when moving around your home.

Make the Home More Accessible

It’s also essential to make your home more accessible for those with difficulty getting around. This includes:

  • Installing threshold wheelchair ramps and modular wheelchair ramps.
  • Arranging furniture to make it easier to access items seated in a wheelchair or other mobility device.
  • Making doorways wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers.
  • Using lever-style doorknobs instead of knobs that must be twisted or turned.
  • Ensuring adequate lighting throughout the home, especially in hallways and stairwells.

By making these home modifications, you can create an environment that will reduce the risk of falling and make life generally easier and more comfortable.

Have a Plan for Emergency Care

Finally, it’s crucial to have a plan in place in an emergency. This should include your doctor or healthcare provider’s contact information and the contact information for family members and close friends who can assist. It’s also wise to invest in home safety devices such as medical alert systems that allow you to summon help with a simple push of a button.

By having these plans and resources in place, you will have greater peace of mind knowing that you are prepared for any unexpected events.

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