“Most accidents occur in the home.” You may have heard this said many times, and it’s absolutely true. The place you feel most comfortable may be filled with surprising dangers—ones that are right under you nose every day. Not to worry, these household hazards can be contained and controlled with vigilance and a little precaution. Read on for tips and tricks that will keep you and your family safe from the most dangerous things in your home.
1) Space heaters
Sure, they can save money on your household heating bill and keep a cold spot toasty, but they also cause more than 25,000 home fires every year.1 In order to keep your home from becoming a statistic, SafeElectricity.org recommends purchasing only space heaters that have been safety tested and UL approved. Choose one with an emergency tip-over shut-off feature. Most importantly, keep pets and kids away at all times.
2) Tripping hazards
From cluttered stairwells to kids’ toys, there are many things in your home that could cause a nasty tumble if you’re not careful. Tape down carpet and cords where they cross walkways and teach the little ones the value of putting away their toys early on. The best tip of all is a simple one: Pay attention. Most tripping accidents happen simply because of rushing and not paying attention.
3) Dryers and freezers
Any large appliance that can seem like an alluring hiding place to a child should be carefully monitored. Curious children have been known to get shut or stuck inside a clothes dryer or freezer. Newer freezer models are required to have a mechanism to allow them to be opened from within. Dryers are also an entrapment hazard, but in addition, they pose a fire risk. Make sure your lint trap is always clean, leave enough space between the dryer and the wall so the vent duct isn’t restricted and use the dryer only when you’re at home. Teach children about the dangers of dryers and freezers and never leave them unattended around either appliance.
Though they’re said to offer certain health benefits, humidifiers pose certain health hazards as well. Make sure your humidifier is meticulously cleaned every time you use it. All that water sitting for long periods can harbor mold spores, which can get sprayed directly into the air every time you use it—the air you and your family are breathing. Empty and clean the water container before each use and use distilled water for the safest and best results.
5) Paint products
Most people keep paint and paint thinner around the house for quick fix-ups. And most people don’t think of these chemicals as safety hazards. But if you have small children and pets around, these can represent a serious threat. It’s imperative that these toxins be stored safely or disposed of completely after each use. Lead paint can cause accidental poisoning and paint thinner is highly flammable. Keep these household helpers under lock and key.
Burns are among the most common reasons adults and children visit the emergency room every year. The stove or oven is one of the most dangerous household appliances. If you have very young children at home, take every precaution. There are safety devices you can use to make the stove childproof. Always remember to turn pot handles away from the edge of the stove so curious kids can’t grab them. As children get older, educate them on kitchen safety. Never leave them alone around a hot stove. Adults also need to remember to exercise caution around a stove. Be careful with loose or long sleeves that can ignite suddenly or cause pots to tip, spilling their scalding contents. Don’t forget to keep potholders close by and a fire extinguisher in the kitchen is also a very wise idea.
7) Window blind cords
Cords on blinds and shades are a leading cause of strangulation and choking injuries.2 Always make sure these cords are tied up higher than your pet or child’s head. Better yet, replace these with cordless window covers so you don’t have to worry about them.
8) Water faucets
With kids around the house, it’s important that the hot water coming out of the tap is a safe and comfortable temperature. It’s easy to assume the water is fine, only to have children scalded by too-hot water. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends setting your water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The electric company can help you set an electric heater. A gas-powered heater can be tested with a thermometer before use. Be sure to put your hand under the faucet or in the tub before letting a child touch the water.
9) Extension cords
Worn out cords with exposed wires or those which are overloaded are among the most common causes of household fires.3 It’s important to replace older cords and make sure that each extension is fitted with only the recommend amount of plugs.
10) Unseen chemical hazards
New furnishings and new carpets can be a source of chemicals that may compromise your family’s health. Pressed wood is part of a lot of household furniture and contains a chemical known to cause burning sensations in the eyes and throat. Formaldehyde can also trigger asthma attacks in sensitive people, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.4 It may also be linked to cancers in animals. The best way to avoid these issues is to avoid pressed-wood products or to seek exterior-grade pressed wood. In addition, your carpeting may emit potentially dangerous chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). To prevent potential reactions, keep the windows open for the first few days after your new carpet is installed so the VOCs can escape. Vacuum your carpeted floors regularly to rid the fibers of potential pollutants. Overall, it’s a good idea to know what chemicals are in the household décor and furnishings you purchase and limit your family’s exposure to those that can pose a threat.