10 hazards you haven’t thought of at home
Nearly half of all falling deaths occur on steps and stairways. Keeping the steps clutter-free seems obvious, but take a look at your own steps. Who hasn’t set something on a step “temporarily” with a plan to take it down (or up) on the next trip? It’s easy to use the steps as semipermanent storage, but it’s a very dangerous habit. Odds are that eventually someone is going to trip over something and break an arm or leg (or neck). Don’t set anything on the steps. Ever.
Each year, thousands of children are injured because of falls from windows. Window screens are not strong enough to prevent falls. In rooms on upper floors, install window guards with quick-release mechanisms (in case of fire) to prevent windows from opening more than a few centimetres. And keep furniture away from windows so kids aren’t tempted to climb near them.
The bathroom can be a hazardous place for everyone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, injuries around the tub or shower are actually most common among those ages 15 to 24. Believe it or not, many bath falls are caused by reaching for dropped soap! So do two things—use a slip-proof bath mat and install a wall-mounted soap and shampoo dispenser. There are many different models available, and most install quickly with adhesive strips and silicone glue. Look for models with easy-to-fill dispensers at bath stores and online retailers.
If you don’t think that furniture tipping over is a danger you have to worry about, learn of the numbers, and you’ll think twice when someone warns you of the dangers. Every year, thousands of children are injured by furniture tipping over. Dresser tip-overs are the biggest culprit, with children pulling out dresser drawers to climb on them. Even the sturdiest dressers can fall forward, so make sure they are securely fastened to the wall.
Clothes piled too close to a gas water heater can ignite when the water heater comes on. The protective doors for the gas burners are missing. Appliances (clothes dryers and gas water heaters) cause 7 percent of home fires and 4 percent of deaths. After problems with stoves and heaters, the biggest culprits in appliance fires are lint in dryers and combustibles near gas water heaters.
The old wiring of antique appliances makes them a safety risk because the wiring dries and becomes brittle, which could fuel a fire. For those who especially love shopping for vintage light fixtures, it’s imperative to know how old the wiring is, if the wiring has been replaced, and where the wiring was done. Look for a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label somewhere on the wiring for a quick reference to see if it’s safe. UL tests lighting fixtures for safety.
Every year, thousands of dryer fires cause millions of dollars in damage and hundreds of injuries, some fatal. Dryer fires start when built-up lint near the motor, gas burners or heating elements catches on fire. This fire can then spread to ignite lint in the vent pipe. Make sure you’re regularly cleaning the lint trap in your dryer and the vent pipe.
The constant movement of loose electrical outlets can loosen the wires connected to the outlet and create dangerous arcing. Call an electrician.
It should go without saying that paper is a huge contributor to home fires, but it’s the location of those papers that people don’t pay close enough attention to at home. Newspaper in the garage near the gas tank for the lawn mower is a common ignition source. See how to safely store petrol. Find a good, secret hiding place for your valuable papers in your home, well away from any ignition sources.
Thick carpet pile over a thick pad is the worst for anyone who is unstable walking – it increases the likelihood of tripping and falling. It also makes it more difficult to push and manoeuvre wheelchairs and walkers. To make getting around easier, consider installing a low-profile commercial-grade “level loop” or “cut pile” carpet with a pile height of no more than 1cm and a 50mm pad.
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