Common Household Hazards - In a Heartbeat

Common Household Hazards

There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort – Jane Austen.  

Home should be our safe place, a place where we find peace, comfort and security when we return from life’s adventures.  And yet, even with all the protection our four walls can offer, they are not immune to their own dangers lurking within.  In fact, the home is the second most common location for death resulting from injury.  Below, we address some of the most common home hazards and ways to protect the ones you love.


  1. Poisoning is the number one cause of unintentional injury and death.  Common culprits include household cleaners, paint and laundry and dishwasher detergents.  Surprisingly, common causes of poisoning also include consumption of heroin, appetite depressants, anesthetics and amphetamines.  
        • Store and dispose of medications where young children cannot reach.
        • Do not keep medication in another medication’s container.
        • Never consume controlled substances that were not prescribed to you and always following proper dosing instructions.
        • Store paint on high or locked shelves.
        • Secure chemicals, including laundry and dishwasher detergent in locked cabinets.
        • Never place chemicals in old food containers.
        • Immediately dispose of old batteries (especially smaller, easily swallowed batteries).
  1. Falls are the number 3 cause of injury-related death.  In addition, one out of 5 older adults suffer from broken bones and/or head injuries from a fall.
        • Keep outside stairs free of debris and snow/ice.  Use grip tape to create non-slip surfaces.
        • Secure bathrooms by installing safety rails and non-stick rugs. Place non-slip stickers in tubs and showers.
        • Stabilize railings and install adequate lighting for all interior stairs.  Place safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs for households with children.  Beware of pets, before you step.
        • Install window guards on second story (or higher) windows.
  1. Strangulation/Suffocation is fourth on the list for injury-related deaths, with choking as the leading cause. Mechanical suffocation (strangulation or smothering by clothes, plastic bags, cords, etc) is the number 1 cause of death in infants below the age of 1. 
        • Keep window blind and electrical cords out of the reach of all children.  Never run cords under a crib or bed. Do not place a bed or crib within reach of window blinds.
        • Use cord covers keep them out of sight of young children. 
        • Avoid placing ribbons, necklaces, headbands, bibs, pacifier strings and items with drawstrings on young children, especially when they are unattended.
        • Beware that children can suffocate if their heads become stuck in furniture, playground equipment and strollers.
  1. Drowning is a particularly dangerous threat to young children, even in the absence of a swimming pool.  Children can drown in as little as 1 inch of water, making this threat the number 1 unintentional, injury-related death for children ages 1 to 4.  It is also 5th on the list for over all ages.
        • Keep buckets and pet bowls out of the reach of children.
        • Never leave children unattended in the bath.  Drain bath water immediately after use.
        • Keep toilet lids down.
        • Install a four-sided fence around all pools, with a self-latching and locking gate.  In most child drowning cases, victims were only out of parent’s sight for 5 minutes or less.
        • Place outside containers upside down to avoid water collection.
  1. Fire is the 6th cause on the injury-injury-related death list, most often occurring at night.  
        • Place smoke detectors in kitchens, bedrooms and on all floors of the home.
        • Never leave candles unattended or within reach of animals or children.
        • Unplug small appliances when not in use.  Do not overload electrical outlets.
        • Purchase at least one multi-purpose fire extinguisher and keep in close proximity to the kitchen.
        • Keep space heaters at least 3 feet from flammable items.
        • Regularly clean chimneys and dryer exhaust vents.
  1. Burns, while categorized with fire on the threat list, are worth discussing separately, due to some unexpected causes.
        • Keep dishwashers securely latched.  Do not open until it has had proper time to cool.
        • Use back burners versus front, when possible, and keep pot and pan handles pointing away from the stove edge. 
        • Add stove knob covers to prevent kids or adults from accidentally bumping them into the “on” position.
        • Maintain water heater temperature at 120 degrees or less.
        • Do not eat, drink or cook while holding a baby or child.
  1. Carbon monoxide poisoning is a particularly dangerous threat, as it is virtually undetectable. 
        • Install a Carbon Monoxide detector or monitor on every level of the home.  Place 5 feet off of the ground, near every bedroom and close to attached garages.
        • Regularly maintain appliances that utilize gas, coal, or oil every year.

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