Home… A Dangerous Place to Live!

The average American home can be a dangerous place to live. This is because of the hazards we create and allow to exist in our homes. The leading causes of accidental deaths are a failure to identify hazards, underestimating personal risk, and overestimating personal ability. More than 50% of all disabling injuries occur during off work hours. Where do most of us spend our off work hours? For many of us, that is our home.

The fact that your home could catch fire is a very scary thought for many of us. However, it is a very real consideration. Children are playing with fire cause many home fires. In our homes, we should use child-resistant lighters, store matches and lighters up high, preferably locked up, and never let children play with matches or lighters. Our homes are also at risk of an electrical fire. Many of these fires are caused by our neglect. Each of us should not overload extension cords, replace fraying or overheating cords, and use proper size fuses in circuits. We should never run electrical cords under rugs, through walls, or through door or window openings. Each of these can damage the cord, and we probably would not even know it.

At one time or another, most of us will have small children at home, and they can be most at risk for an accident. Many children drown inside the home. The bathtub is the main cause. Never leave a child unattended in or near a tub of water. Many parents or adults leave the room for what appear to be safe and logical reasons. Those reasons might include: answering the door, answering the phone, or perhaps responding to another child. Another cause of drowning in children is a pail of cleaning water. Children fall into the pail while parents are not paying attention. Many children die not of drowning but from chemical pneumonia from the cleaning solvents in the water.

There are many children injured in the home by appliances. The cooking stove in the kitchen is one that parents usually place off-limits to their children. Parents do this to prevent the child from pulling a pan of hot material off the stove onto them. However, the sides and front of the stove may also be hazardous. Most stoves will have a hot outside to them while used. This surface can be more than 140 degrees. That means that in addition to the tradition of keeping children away from the pots and pans on top of the stove they need to stay away from the sides and front.

Home remodeling can also create hazards for our families. Whenever possible use latex based paints and stains. Be sure the painted area is well ventilated until completely dry. When painting, keep all oil-based paints and stains away from heat and open flame. Store paints, cleaners, and solvents outside the home in a fire proof container and keep all painting materials out of the reach of children.

You should also use appropriate clothing, shoes, and gloves for the task you are doing.  This will include proper hearing, seeing, and breathing protection. You should also carefully inspect all tools and equipment before using them.  Read and follow instructions on paints, solvents, glues, and other chemicals and materials. Inspect ladders before using them and position ladders correctly. An extension ladder should be used at an angle with the bottom about ¼ of the height away from the wall. Stepladders should be used on a flat level surface, and you should never use the top step. Dispose of all waste properly, safely, and quickly. Don’t leave it around for children or animals to get into. Plan ahead-take your time.

To keep your home safe take a few minutes and ask yourself some questions. What will be the next accident in my home? Who will it likely involve? What should I be doing to prevent it? Take the answers you get from these questions and prevent future accidents. The lives and well-being of you and your family are at stake.

About Fred Fanning Author

Fred Fanning spent over 20 years in the safety profession. His final safety position was as the Director of Occupational Safety and Health for the U.S. Department of Commerce. He began writing in 1994, published his first book in 1998, and began writing professionally in 2015. He has authored and coauthored articles, written books, and chapters for technical books and stories for anthologies.
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