A new kitchen or a bathroom remodeling job might be dream projects for many homeowners, but the right home improvement project at a given moment is not necessarily the most glamorous project. Sometimes safety upgrades around the house must take precedence over more popular projects.
Accidents or injuries can occur in any part of the home, but homeowners who take certain preventative measures can greatly reduce their injury risk. The security resource A Secure Life points out that more than 18,000 Americans die every year from injuries that take place in the home. Unintentional injuries account for millions of medical visits each year. Home injuries also are prevalent elsewhere in the world. In the United Kingdom, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents reports that there are approximately 6,000 deaths every year that result from accidents at home.
Periodic inspections for potential hazards can keep everyone safe. The following are a handful of ways for homeowners to ensure their homes are as safe as possible.
• Check for sturdy handrails and prevent tripping hazards. Falls are one of the leading causes of home injuries. Falls can be a particular threat for youngsters and the elderly. To help prevent falls, make sure that staircases feature sturdy railings and that there is ample lighting in walkways. Remove obstructions from frequently used paths inside and outside the home. In addition, insert nonslip padding beneath runners or throw rugs.
• Check for frayed wires or faulty outlets. Address any electrical problems around the house, including frayed wiring and faulty outlets. Sparks can lead to fires, and poor wiring may cause unforeseen problems behind walls. Repair or replace any loose or frayed wires on all electrical devices. Be sure that cords do not run under doorways or rugs. Replace outlets that are in disrepair and install ones with ground-fault current interruptors as an added precaution. If small children live in the home, use plastic safety covers over unused outlets.
• Practice window safety. Young children are curious and do not always recognize the inherent dangers around them. Children excited to see the great outdoors may climb up to peer out windows, and open windows are falling hazards. Screens do not offer an adequate barrier against falls. Consider locking windows or use safety bars to guard against falls. Test to see how easily screens can be pushed out, replacing any that do not provide adequate resistance to curious youngsters’ hands.
• Check smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Replace the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors at least twice per year, and test them to make sure they’re in good working order at least once per month. The National Fire Protection Association recommends replacing hard-wired smoke alarms every 10 years. Battery-operated alarms may need to be replaced even sooner. Many carbon monoxide detectors work for five to seven years. Check the back of alarms for a date stamp that indicates how old the product is and when it expires.
Safety checklists are an important part of home maintenance. A proactive approach can prevent both injuries and damage to the home.