Safety Hazards to Watch for Around the House

Aug 16, 2018 |
a family looking out the window in their home

Creating a safe environment where your family can grow and thrive is a top priority. Thankfully, though a number of serious safety hazards lurk around the average home, most of these concerns can be addressed pretty easily.

Make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep your family safe. Consult this guide of nine common safety hazards in the home for quick, simple solutions to keep you and your loved ones out of harm’s way.

#1. Falls

Medline Safety Bar
medline security bar for bathtubs

Injuries due to falls are one of the most common household hazards. In fact, one out of five older adults who falls incurs a broken bone or a head injury. Wet floors, slippery stairs, and scattered toys all create the potential for falls.

Ways to minimize risks:

  • Stabilize Staircases
    Make sure all staircases have solid handrails, securely affixed flooring, adequate lighting, and safety gates if there are small children in the home. The Regalo Easy Step Walk Thru Gate is adjustable to most spaces and easy to use, even with a baby in your arms.
  • Clear Outdoor Steps
    Keep all outside stairs clear of debris and hazards like ice and snow. Add secured mats or grip tapeto make surfaces less slippery.
  • Secure Bathrooms
    Secure rugs to avoid slipping and water pooling on slick surfaces. Non-slip stickers are another good way to keep everyone in your home from slipping in the shower.
  • Corral Toys
    Provide an easy space for kids to stow toys and make sure every playdate ends without injury. Secure skateboards, bikes, and other mobile toys in a safe area where family members and visitors won’t trip on them.
  • Install Supports
    Install safety rails like the Medline Bathtub Bar to help family members old and young safely get in and out of the shower. Or use these Balance Assist Bars, which are small enough to fit in any shower, and more than one can be added to provide extra support to older family members and others who need additional help.

#2. Fires

Nest Smoke Alarm
Nest Smoke Alarm

In 2015, there were more than 365,000 fires in US homes, causing everything from mild smoke damage to total devastation, including loss of life. Even candles or an unattended iron could lead to an accidental fire in your home, but there is a lot you can do to prevent a fire from getting out of hand.

Ways to minimize risks:

  • Install Fire Alarms
    Install fire alarms on all levels of your home, and check and change the batteries at least annually. Consider investing in a smart smoke detector like Nest Protect. This alarm uses Wi-Fi to provide real-time updates and remote monitoring right on your smartphone or other mobile device.
  • Monitor Candles
    Never leave candles unattended or near loose cloth like drapes or blankets. Also, make sure they are out of reach of children and that pets can’t knock them over.
  • Unplug Appliances
    Avoid an electrical fire by making sure that all appliances are in good working order and no wires are frayed. Don’t overload electrical outlets, either. In fact, it’s a smart practice to unplug small appliances like toasters when not in use.
  • Purchase a Fire Extinguisher
    Keep at least one fire extinguisher in your home—and check it annually to verify it is in good working order and up to date. Keep a multi-purpose fire extinguisher, like the Kidee FA110, handy in the kitchen or near the fireplace.

#3. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Low exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) can cause headaches and dizziness, while high levels can lead to vomiting, impaired vision, and even death. Carbon monoxide is virtually impossible to detect by smell, sight, or sound, making it a difficult threat to discern. But there are things you can do to ward off CO-related injuries.

Ways to minimize risks:

  • Install a CO Detector
    You can help keep your family safe by installing a carbon monoxide detector that alerts you if CO reaches dangerous levels in your home. A detector that plugs into an electrical outlet, like the Kidde Nighthawk Alarm, provides extra reassurance and saves you from needing to change batteries.
  • Keep Up Home Maintenance
    Prevent carbon monoxide leaks by having your HVAC system, water heater, and other appliances that use gas, oil, or coal serviced by a professional every year. When buying a home, have these systems inspected before purchase.

#4. Choking

Choking is the country’s fourth-largest cause of accidental death, claiming nearly 5,000 victims in 2014. From a bit of dinner going down the wrong way to a youngster accidentally swallowing a small item, choking is scary. Educate yourself about choking hazards and take measures to keep your family safe.

Ways to minimize risks:

  • Inspect Toys
    Regularly inspect toys for any loose parts. Scour floors for small toys or items where little hands might easily find them.
  • Keep Dangers Out of Reach
    Be sure to keep small, hard foods like nuts or candies out of reach of children. Pay special attention at adult gatherings where children can more easily sneak something unnoticed.
  • Monitor Playtime
    Even if your child is no longer an infant, a baby monitor can still come in handy. Use this gadget to listen in for signs of choking when children are playing in another room.
  • Cut Up Food
    For children under the age of four, always cut up hard foods that can block airways. The same applies to softer foods like grapes, cherry tomatoes, and hot dogs. The OXO Tot Grape Cutter is a handy tool that makes safe snacking easy for you and your toddler.

#5. Cuts

This one seems like a no-brainer, but unfortunately there are a number of common items with sharp edges that are used inside and outside your home. Everything from an opened can to a garden hoe can present danger.

Ways to minimize risks:

  • Close the Trash
    Use a locking garbage can to protect small fingers and pets from finding sharp edges on opened cans and lids. The Sterilite Locking StepOn Wastebasket is an attractive solution that adds an extra layer of safety to your kitchen.
  • Store Kitchen Supplies
    Knives, graters, and peelers are common items that can lead to nasty cuts. Properly store all sharp kitchen tools and lock them up if you have small children in the home.
  • Put Away Yard Tools
    Lawn tools, including rakes, saws, and lawn mowers, can cause harm if not used and stored properly. Stay alert when using power tools and never rush while mowing the lawn or using the weed whacker. Never leave tools lying around and always keep them locked in a shed or garage where kids can’t access them.
  • Lock the Bathroom
    If you use a razor, keep it on a high shelf or locked in a cabinet. Store extra blades in drawers with safety guards and keep other grooming tools like cuticle scissors safely stowed as well. Child safety locks are easy to install and keep little fingers away from dangerous implements.
  • Point Knives and Forks Down
    Keep little ones safe from sharp points by pointing knives and forks downward in the utensil basket of the dishwasher. Place the basket away from the front of the dishwasher as well, to make sharp objects even less accessible.

#6. Poisoning

There were over two million poisoning incidents reported to poison control centers nationwide in 2014. Several household items present poisoning hazards, including cleaning and home maintenance supplies. However, a little diligence and the right know-how can decrease the chance of anyone in your family becoming a victim.

Ways to minimize risks:

  • Store Medications Properly
    Both over-the-counter and prescription medications need to be kept away from children and teens. Dispose of all unused medications and never leave them out on a counter. Solutions like the locking EVERTOP Medicine Cabinet are a convenient way to keep medications handy without making them vulnerable to accidental discovery.
  • Keep Paint Out of Reach
    Even paint that isn’t lead based needs to be properly stored and kept out of reach of children. Never put paint in a container other than the one it came in, otherwise your child may mistake it for a drink or other item.
  • Make Sure Chemicals Are Secure
    Protect both children and pets from accidental poisoning by cleaning supplies. Keep all household cleaners in a high cupboard with a safety lock to keep kids and animals from accidentally finding them. Lock up pesticides and items like turpentine in a cupboard or lockbox in the garage or shed.
  • Put Away Personal Products
    Keep all makeup, hair products, soaps, and other personal products out of the reach of children and pets. Use safety latches on all doors and drawers to help keep even the most determined youngsters out.
  • Lock Up Detergent
    As with all household cleaners, keep detergent locked out of reach of pets and kids. If you use detergent pods, make sure children don’t mistake them for candy. Never fill the soap dispenser until you’re ready to start a load and always check your dishwasher for leftover residue after each cycle.

#7. Strangling

Cords on window dressings like blinds or curtains present a common strangling hazard to small children and infants. Here are a few ways you can help make your home safer for little ones.

Ways to minimize risks:

  • Put Cords Away
    Keep window and electrical cords out of reach of little ones. Never place a crib or bed under a window with dangling cords.
  • Trim or Remove Window Cords
    To keep children from getting tangled up, trim cords to a length that is only accessible to the adults in the home. Better yet, trade out window treatments for designs without cords. If you like the look of blinds, make your windows attractive and safe with Achim Home Furnishings Cordless Pleated Shades.
  • Wrap Them Up
    If you’re not ready to redecorate, you can make your home safe by installing blind cord wraps to your current window coverings. Dreambaby Blind Cord Wraps are affordable, easy to install, and transparent, so they won’t clash with your decor.

#8. Drowning

Drowning isn’t only a risk outdoors during summer—it can also present a hazard in the home. Deaths from drowning in a bathtub have increased by 70% in the past decade, so do your part to prevent this from occurring.

Ways to minimize risks:

  • Put Away Buckets
    If you use buckets for cleaning, keep them empty and away from water sources. 
  • Attend to Bathing Children
    It only takes a few inches of water for a child or infant to drown, so never leave a child unattended in the bathtub, and always close the toilet lid.

#9. Burns

Burns may not seem like a common household hazard, but they can be caused by both dishwashers and stoves. These convenient appliances pose risks, especially to small children. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can help ensure no one in your family is burned.

Ways to minimize risks:

  • Latch the Dishwasher
    Make sure your dishwasher is securely latched at all times and can’t be opened by curious fingers, particularly at the end of a cycle when burns from steam are most likely to occur. Add the Safety 1st Appliance Lock as an extra measure to keep the dishwasher from accidentally being opened.
  • Use Back Burners
    Most burns occur in the home and workplace, and children and women are most likely to suffer a burn in the kitchen. To prevent burns, use the back burners when possible. This makes it more difficult for kids to accidentally touch a hot stovetop. Never rest tempting items like cookies or toys on the stovetop, even when it’s not in use.
  • Add Stove Knob Covers
    Stoves—especially gas ones—are the perfect place for something to accidentally catch on fire. Protect your home from a potential fire by adding stove knob covers, like these from Safety 1st. They keep small hands from turning on burners or grownups from inadvertently knocking burners to the “on” position.

Nothing is more important than keeping your family safe. Knowing what to look out for and which precautions to take makes your job as family protector a little easier, but no one can be on duty all the time, so you may want to get some help protecting your loved ones with a monitored security system. Most current systems offer home automation and remote access so you can make sure everything is okay as often as you want.

Written by Rebecca Edwards

Rebecca has honed her safety and security skills as both a single mom and a college director. Being responsible for the well-being of others helped her learn how to minimize risk and create safe environments. Learn more

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