5 household dangers and what you can do about them
Our homes are our refuge from the world. Where we unwind and reconnect with our families. Home is where we often feel the safest. However, there are many “hidden” or perhaps overlooked things about your home that can damage your property, your belongings, or even the physical safety of you and your loved ones. They can also be costly in terms of repairs and liability and cause your insurance premiums to go up. So, let’s look at some of the most common dangers and ways you can prevent accidents and avoid making claims.
1. Household danger from fires
House fires are one of the most common dangers and one of the costliest. The National Fire Prevention Association’s statistics show there were an estimated 352,000 home fires in 2016, resulting in over 2,700 deaths and over $5 billion in property damage. In about 40 percent of cases, cooktops are to blame for sparking the blaze. To avoid this disaster, never leave your stove unattended and don’t leave anything combustible near the range, such as paper towels or cloth potholders or oven mitts. Other home fire risks include old or faulty electrical wiring, appliances, lint build up in dryers, candles, fireplaces, gas grills, or even an iron that was left on.
Smoke detectors are one of the wisest investments for your safety. However, many people neglect to replace batteries on a regular basis, making them useless. Yes, the devices will often emit a “beep” if the batteries are low, but you shouldn’t rely only on that. Experts recommended that you replace batteries at least once a year, if not more often. Some say it’s a good idea to replace batteries every time there is a change of time (such as Daylight Savings Time). If your smoke detectors are more than 10 years old, the devices should probably be replaced.
Other ways to reduce the risk of a house fire:
• Inspect electrical wiring to make sure everything is up to code and shows no signs of damage
• Consider replacing electrical wiring if you have an older home (more than 40 years)
• Replace old circuit breakers with arc-fault circuit interrupters, which cut electricity if they sense danger
• Brush or vacuum buildup around the lint filter and make sure to empty out the lint catcher after each use
• Hire someone to clean out the dryer cabinet every 2 years
• Have the chimney swept once a year to clear out creosote buildup (the cause of most chimney fires)
• Keep the screen closed when the fireplace is in use to prevent sparks from escaping
• Gas grill:
• Regularly check the gas hose/connection for cracks or damage
• Place the grill at least 10 feet away from the house, in an area where there is no overhead obstruction or anything that could ignite
2. Household danger from falls
“Help, I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”
We tend to laugh at that commercial, but the truth is, falls are extremely common, and they can be very dangerous. The threat is even worse in the case of older adults who are at risk of sustaining broken bones and other injuries. Babies and young children are also vulnerable. Wet floors, narrow or slippery stairs, area rugs, and even toys on the floor can cause anyone to stumble.
Reducing the risk from falls:
• Make sure handrails on stairs are secure
• Ensuring adequate lighting on staircases (inside and outside)
• Installing child safety gates at the top and bottom of stairs
• Makes sure outdoor and indoor steps are free of debris, toys or other hazards
• Clear ice or snow from outdoor steps
• Put non-skid tape or stickers on area rugs in bathrooms, kitchen or anywhere else in the house
• Install safety railings inside and outside of the shower or bathtub if you have young children or older adults in the house
3. Household danger from carbon monoxide
Carbon monoxide is a dangerous substance that can be emitted into your home from a leaking furnace/heater, space heater, generator, water heater, and other appliances. If the level of carbon monoxide rises too much inside your house, it can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, impaired vision, and in extreme cases, death. It is virtually undetectable, so most people don’t even realize the danger.
To protect your family, install a carbon monoxide detector that emits an alarm if CO levels rise. Safewise.com also recommends, “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. Household danger from poisoning
Poison is a very serious and common danger, especially for those with young children (and even pets). Poison.org reported over 2 million human poison exposures in 2016, along with over 54,000 cases involving pets. There was a reported exposure to the U.S. Poison Control every 14.6 seconds, and 41.3 exposures (per 1,000) occurred in children younger than 6. The most common culprits were cleaning products and home maintenance supplies. Other common poisoning dangers include laundry detergent, medications, paint, chemicals, and beauty products such as hairspray, cologne/perfume, soap, and makeup.
You can prevent accidental poisoning by ensuring that any item that could be ingested by a baby or young child is locked up or placed well out of reach. If you used detergent pods, make sure children don’t mistake them for candy. Also, never fill the soap dispenser in the dishwasher until you’re ready to turn it on.
5. Household danger from drowning
Drowning is a leading cause of deaths in young children, especially those under the age of 2. Those that survive a near drowning can sustain long-term brain damage and disabilities. The number one thing you can do is, of course, to watch your children anytime they are around a pool. If you have a backyard pool, put up a gate to prevent children from getting to it. The dangers can also occur inside the house. “Deaths from drowning in a bathtub have increased by 70%,” according to Safewise.com. Children can even drown from falling headfirst into a bucket filled with water.
Fortunately, drowning is completely preventable. Along with a gate around your pool, it’s important that you never leave a baby or young child unattended in the bathtub, even if there are only a few inches of water. Also, make sure to empty buckets of any liquids after you’ve used them.
These 5 common household dangers are real, but they are also preventable if you take the right precautions to safeguard your family. Also, make sure you have adequate homeowners insurance coverage to help pay for repairs or replace lost items. If you have any questions, or you’d like a quote, contact us today.