Wednesday, February 25, 2009

20 Tips for Home Safety -- Is Your Home A Safe Haven?

An Article of Interest

From:Inspection Plus, LTD. Residential Home and Commercial Building Inspections

20 Tips for Home Safety -- Is Your Home A Safe Haven?

How safe is your home from common hazards such as falls, fires and poisonings? You may be surprised to find that hazards exist inside nearly every American home. According to the National Safety Council, more than 33,000 deaths and 8 million injuries happened in the home last year. In fact, more injuries occur in the home than in the workplace and from motor vehicle crashes combined.

Tips for a Safe Kitchen:
The kitchen is one of the most commonly used rooms in the home, and it is also among the most dangerous. Each year more than 18,000 injuries are related to the kitchen range alone. Here are three tips to help you eliminate hazards in the kitchen.

Tip #1 - Turn pot handles away from the stove front.
Turning handles in so they don't hang over the front edge of the stove minimizes the risk of tipping pots over or having curious children pull them off the stove. Don't position handles over another burner either, as hot handles may catch fire or burn someone who touches the handle.

Tip #2 - Avoid throwing water onto or using a fire extinguisher on a grease fire.
Water or fire extinguisher chemicals can actually spread a grease fire. Keep a pot lid near the stove to smother flames in a pan quickly. Then turn off the burner and leave the pan on the stove. If a fire occurs in the oven or broiler, close the oven or broiler door. Then turn off the oven.

Tip #3 - Store knives in a special rack or compartment.
Knives should be stored out of reach of children and separately from other utensils to avoid cutting yourself when reaching into the drawer.

Tips for a Safe Stairway or Hallway:
Not every home has a stairway, but both stairs and hallways are prime locations for tripping. Falls are the most common accident in the home, but luckily almost all of them are preventable. These two tips will help you put an end to trips and falls.

Tip #4 - Fit all area rugs with a slip-resistant backing.
Put cut-to-fit rubber matting or two-sided tape on rugs without backing to stop slips or trips.

Tip #5 - Install a sturdy handrail on the sides of all steps and stairways.
Many falls happen on stairways. Make sure every set of steps and stairways have all handrails securely mounted to at least one side of the stairs.

Tips for a Safe Living Room:
The living room or family room should be a comfortable place for your family to relax. Eliminate needless worries with the following two tips.

Tip # 6 - Never run electrical cords under rugs or across doorways, and don't hang them from nails.
This is tempting to do, especially at holiday time. But friction from carpeting can damage or overheat cords, which can cause a fire. Check power cords on a regular basis and have them replaced if they are frayed. Also, cords should not be placed in traffic areas where someone might trip and fall. In addition, avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many plugs.
Hint: One way to avoid overloaded electrical outlets is to buy a power strip with a surge protector to safely gain additional outlets.

Tip #7 - Have your wood stove, fireplace, chimney and chimney connectors inspected and cleaned annually by a professional.
According to a recent survey, fewer than 50 percent of homeowners do this important safety check. Keeping your heating equipment clean prevents creosote buildup which could cause a chimney fire in the flue.

Tips for a Safe Bathroom:
The bathroom contains a dangerous combination of water and electricity, with the potential hazards of electrocution, slipping and drowning. Follow these three tips to help pull the plug on all these risks.

Tip #8 - Put slip-resistant surfaces in and around the bathtub or shower.
To help curb dangerous falls, use a nonslip mat, or install strips or decals in the tub or shower. Don't forget to protect the outside of these areas as well with a nonslip surface. Your tub should also have securely fastened grab bars installed for added protection. Hint: To ensure grab bars are securely fastened, use long screws anchored directly into wall studs, not into plaster, tile or wallboard.

Tip #9 - Always supervise young children while they are bathing.
Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death among children ages one through nine. Never leave a young child alone in the bathtub, even for a few seconds. If you must leave the room, take the child with you. You should supervise children whenever they are in or around the water, whether in the tub, a swimming pool or any other body of water.

Tip #10 - Unplug all electrical appliances such as hair dryers, electric razors and curling irons when not in use.
Make certain to avoid shocks and burns by cutting off the supply of electricity. Never use electrical appliances near water (tub, sink or toilet). When you're finished using them, store appliances away from these areas, too.

Tips for a Safe Adult's Bedroom:
Surprisingly, bedrooms are the number one place in the home for falls. Consider these two tips to help you rest easier.

Tip #11 - Install lighting that will help you see your way after dark.
Nightlights are especially helpful for homes with elderly people and children. A sleepy person is more likely to stumble and trip over objects. Nightlights are inexpensive and easy to use. Put nightlights in bathrooms and hallways, too. Hint: Be sure to locate nightlights a safe distance from materials such as bedding or curtains that could easily catch fire.

Tip #12 - Keep a phone and flashlight near your bed.
Be prepared for an emergency. Make sure flashlight batteries are working, or use flashlights with rechargeable batteries. Keep a phone within easy reach so you don't have to scramble out of bed to get to it. If possible, you should also position your bed near a lamp or light switch so you don't have to get out of bed to turn the lights on or off.

Tips for a Safe Child's Bedroom:
Your children spend more time alone in their bedrooms than anywhere else in the house, so a child's bedroom should be as safe as possible. Here are two tips to help keep your children safe even when you're not in the room with them.

Tip #13 - Position all window coverings and cords out of reach.
Window coverings have caused more than 100 strangulation deaths in the past decade. Don't allow children access to window covering cords that could strangle them. Place cribs, playpens, beds and other furniture well away from windows so children can't climb to reach cords. This will also stop children from climbing up and falling out of windows. To further prevent falls, you should only open the upper portion of windows and install window guards on upper floors of multistory homes. Never let children sit or stand on windowsills.

Tip #14 - Make sure toy storage containers and chests have safe lids.
A lid without supports can drop on a child's head or neck, causing serious injury or death. Look for a lid with supports that hold it open in all positions, or remove the lid.
Tips for a Safe Basement or Utility Room
Basements and utility rooms are often overlooked in the search for ways to make your entire home safer. Follow these two tips to make sure your home is completely safe from top to bottom.

Tip #15 - Ensure you have a working smoke detector in this area.
This area needs to be protected just like the rest of the house. All areas of your home should have smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Keep them free of dust and debris by vacuuming over and around them regularly. Test the batteries once a month and replace them twice a year. Only remove the batteries to replace them. Be sure to replace smoke detectors every ten years. Carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced every five to ten years, depending on the model.

Tip #16 - Make certain your washer and dryer are electrically grounded.
They should be plugged into Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets. Improperly grounded laundry appliances can cause electric shock, especially if the area near them is damp. Check with a service person or electrician if you're not sure whether your washer and dryer are properly grounded. The washer and dryer also should be elevated if there is any danger of flooding.

Tips for a Safe Home Exterior or Garage:
Your garage and other outside areas of your home can be locations for many lurking dangers. These four tips can help keep your family as safe when they walk out the door as they are inside your home.

Tip #17 - Store flammable materials (such as gasoline or oil-soaked rags) in appropriate safety containers.
Flammable liquids are extremely hazardous. Be sure to properly dispose of all oil- or paint-stained rags after each use, since they could be toxic or ignite. Don't store any other flammable liquid in a gasoline safety container. Store all flammable liquids in a shed or garage, outside your home.

Tip #18 - Check the condition of ladders regularly and before each use.
Never use a defective ladder. More than 160,000 injuries associated with ladders occur each year. Inspect ladders regularly for loose or damaged rungs, steps, rails or braces. Also check for worn ladder shoes or frayed ropes (on extension ladders). Look for loose screws, bolts, hinges and other hardware. Watch overhead when using ladders near power lines to guard against lethal shocks.

Tip #19 - Follow the manufacturer's directions for safely operating outdoor grills.
Grills cause more than 6,000 fires and $35 million in property loss each year. Be sure to read warning labels and manuals before operating grills. Here are a few important reminders:
Always start charcoal grills with lighter fluid, never gasoline.
To avoid creating flames that could explode or ignite clothing, never add more lighter fluid once the charcoal is lit.
When using a propane gas grill, shut off the propane gas completely when finished grilling.

Tip #20 - Maintain all steps, sidewalks and driveway areas.
Inspect all areas on a regular basis. Repair cracks, holes and uneven surfaces before someone trips or falls. When necessary, be sure to keep them clear of ice, snow and leaves.

Larry Shideler
Customer Loyalty Manager
513-405-4773 Cell
Inspection Plus, LTD.
Cincinnati, Ohio 513-793-3552 Office Phone
Residential Home and Commercial Building Inspections