Accidents within the home are a leading cause of death in the United States. Falls, drowning, and injuries from burns, poisons and hazardous chemicals are among the most common reasons for visits to the emergency department. The good news is that many of these home accidents can be prevented by taking some extra precautions.
Heather Venezio, Trauma Program director at NorthBay Medical Center, said the hospital sees the result of home accidents on a daily basis. “Injuries from falls top the list,” Heather said. “We see patients injured falling out of bed and off the couch as well as off the roof. And, items falling on top of people also cause injuries.”
Falls account for more than a third of all fatal injuries. From falling off the roof while removing holiday ornaments to tripping over a rug or slipping in the shower, falls take their toll on people of all ages.
You can prevent such accidents around your house by eliminating obstacles and hazards that increase the risks of tripping, skidding, or stumbling. Eliminate clutter from the floor, including boxes, shoes, toys and anything a person could trip over.
Make sure any electrical cords or extension cords are secure. Remove throw rugs or secure them with double-sided tape so they won’t slip. Keep objects off the stairs and make sure handrails are secure. Check your light bulbs and make sure your house is well lit.
Injury by Falling Object
Being struck by an object is included by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a leading cause of accidental injury. “We see injuries caused by people reaching for something elevated that falls on them or they fall because they are using an unstable step stool,” Heather added.
Avoid having unstable objects, furniture or other heavy items in areas where they may fall and injure someone. Children climbing on unstable furniture that tips over on them is another common cause of injury. If possible, secure heavy items to the wall.
It only takes a couple inches of water for drowning to occur. Children are most susceptible to these accidents, so never leave a child around standing water, pools or tubs. Adults should also avoid falling asleep while taking a bath. The best way to prevent drowning is to learn water safety and how to swim.
Household burns are another common injury seen in the emergency room. Most burns are associated with cooking, Heather explained. Scald burns from hot liquids are one of the most common burns to children and older adults. Kids love to reach, so to prevent hot food or liquid spills, simply use the back burner of your stove and turn pot handles away from the edge. Use oven mitts or potholders when handling hot pots and pans.
Another source of burns is curling irons. “Accidentally grabbing the hot end of a curling iron can cause a painful burn to the palm of your hand,” Heather said. “Make sure you unplug your curling iron when you finish with it.”
A poison is any substance that is harmful to your body if too much is eaten, inhaled, injected, or absorbed through the skin. Everyday items in your home, such as household cleaners and medicines, can be poisonous if misused.
Home accidents can be prevented by taking some extra precautions.
Medication dosing mistakes and unsupervised ingestion of medications are common ways that children are poisoned. Secure medications out of reach of children (lock them up if possible) and dispose of all unused or outdated prescription and over-the-counter medicine.
Keep cleaning solutions and detergent pods in their original packaging for easy identification. Follow label instructions when using household chemicals.
Keep the poison control number by your phone: (800) 222-1222.
Always read the label before using a product that may be poisonous. Do not use food containers such as cups, bottles, or jars to store chemical products such as cleaning solutions. Never mix household products together. For example, mixing bleach and ammonia can result in toxic gases. Turn on the fan and open windows when using chemical products such as household cleaners.
Wear protective clothing (gloves, long sleeves, long pants, socks, shoes) if you spray pesticides or other chemicals.