Your home is your haven, the place you rest, play, relax, and enjoy being with loved ones. And yet, it is entirely possible for accidents to happen in your home and cause injury or much worse. You can put the odds in your favor by taking a few simple precautions to protect yourself against injuries and hazards that can occur in the home with these home safety tips.
Install Lifesaving Alarms
Make sure you have a working smoke alarm on each level of your home, including the attic and the basement. Between 2009 and 2013, fires in homes with no smoke alarms caused an average of 940 deaths per year, and an additional 510 people per year were killed in fires in which smoke alarms were present but failed to operate, according to the National Fire Protection Association. When choosing a fire alarm, make sure it has both a photoelectric sensor (for smoldering fires) and an ionization sensor (for fast-flaming fires). Keep alarms with ionization sensors away from bathrooms and kitchens. Make sure all the smoke alarms in your home are interconnected, so you’ll be alerted of the fire no matter which level or levels the fire and you are on.
Having a carbon monoxide alarm on each level, especially if you have a gas dryer, range, other fuel-burning equipment, or an attached garage, is useful as well. Be sure to include one in your basement and near the garage.
Both carbon monoxide and smoke alarms should be tested monthly. Vacuum them occasionally to prevent a build of up dust from interfering with their sensors and follow the user’s manual to find out how often to replace batteries and the devices themselves, based on the life expectancy of their sensors.
Eliminate Trip Hazards
More than 10,000 people die from falls in their home yearly and a greater number are injured. Make sure your furniture doesn’t block or partially block your regular routes through your home. For example, make sure you have a clear path from your bed to the door of your bedroom. Keep things like pet bowls and electric cords running along walls rather than across your walkways. Throw rugs can skid, so either get rid of them or be sure to use carpet tacks or double-sided carpet tape to keep them steady. Rubber mats, non-slip strips, and grab bars in your tub/shower can prevent many accidents. If you decide to remodel, consider going with anti-slip flooring materials wherever possible.
Protect Against Burns
Yearly in the US, approximately 486,000 people are treated for burn injuries according to the American Burn Association. While you can lower the maximum heat of your water heater to about 120° F to prevent scalds, this can also possibly invite opportunistic bacteria—including Legionella, associated with Legionnaires’ disease—to proliferate. To balance both risks, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) advocates setting domestic water heaters to a temperature of 140° F and using anti-scald devices such as thermostatic mixing valves at each faucet. These devices work by mixing hot and cold water to a safe temperature before letting it flow from the faucet. They are commonly found in the plumbing systems of newer homes and are often built into newer fixtures. Certain shower fixtures even allow you to set a temperature limit.
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