Home Safety Check: Is Your Home Safe and Sound?

With all the concern this winter about home safety, a reader asked a general question about what to look for regarding home safety.  Rather than answering privately, here are some tips for all to consider.  Take a quick tour of your home and see how you fare.

First consider the stats:
The National Safety Council reports that in homes across the U.S., a disabling injury occurs every five seconds, and a fatal injury every 19 minutes.  The three leading causes:  falls, poisonings, fires.   Prevent the risk of falls, especially in homes where older people live.  Fact: People 65 years and older account for 86% of fatalities from falls.
Write the phone number of the Poison Control Center and have it accessible. 1.800.222.1222,  Poison Control nationwide. If you’re online, Google CT poison Control Center. You’ll automatically be referred to the phone number above. If it isn’t an emergency, you’ll see Lenny Lendahand’s Toolbox filled with valuable poison control information for Grades 1-3, Grades 4-6, Home, Teachers and babysitters.  For educational materials related to poisoning, call 860.699.3531.    

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, cooking is the chief cause of residential fires.  Unattended cooking is the leading factor; grease also plays a significant role; and remember, a candle is an open flame that can easily ignite any nearby combustible substance.  Smoke inhalation accounts for most deaths in home fires.  Install smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and keep them operable. Check batteries regularly and develop a fire escape plan.  Tip: a periodic “chirp” indicates a smoke detector is in need of a new battery.  U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission states there are 40,000 residential fires annually in the U.S.  They are caused by electrical wiring problems, accounting for thousands of injuries and deaths from electrical shock, burns and fortunes lost in personal property damage.

Here’s a good first step in making your home safer.  Perform safety checks regularly in these areas:

All areas of your Home:

__Electrical and telephone cords             __Secure runners and rugs, floor mats   __LandLine phones
__Smoke detectors;                                       __Alarms                                                             __Batteries
__Fire extinguishers on each floor          __Don’t overload electrical outlets         __Light bulbs
__Space Heaters                                              __Fireplaces; Wood burning stoves        __Frayed cords
__Keep open flames away from walls/curtains

Kitchen/Dining Room

__Range, electrical cords, lighting           __Safe storage for meds, cleaning supplies, other toxins
__Throw rugs and mats (non skid)           __Freezer (contents secure; nothing to fall out)
__Step stools                                                     __Turn ceiling fans off when getting on step stool, ladder

Living Room/Family Room/Den/Home Office
__Rugs and runners secured                       __Electrical, telephone cords hidden     __Passageways free
__Fireplace and chimney screened         __Passageways free of clutter/obstacles              __Lighting accessible

__Bathtubs accessible (cut tub or walk in shower/seat for elders)__Shower area safe; accessible
__Water temperatures regulated                                                            __Rugs/mats nonslip
__Lighting plentiful and in working order                                            __ Electrical appliances work 

__Rugs and runners secured                       __Ample lighting                             __All electrical cords secured
__Areas around beds free of clutter and extra long bedspreads, coverlets, shoes, etc.

Basement, Garage, Workshop, Storage areas
__Lighting available and working             __Fuse boxes, circuit breakers  __appliances/tools (accessible)
__Frayed cords replaced                              __Flammable liquids removed __Free area to get around

Outdoor Areas
__Lighting                                                           __Condition of walkways             __Handrails where needed
__Condition of steps                                      __Condition of coverings             __Hoses/tools properly stored

Note from Joyce: How’d you do?  If you see areas that need attention, now’s a great time while you’re thinking about it.  And, if you have tips to add, send a comment. We’ll print your reply to share with everyone.