Unfortunately, accidents do happen, and often in what is usually considered to be the safest of places in the home. Here are simple preventive measures that you can take to reduce the risks of serious injury, most of which are simply a question of common sense. Every member of the family should be fully aware of the dangers present in all areas of the home.
Just a little thought and planning as to the potential dangers can give peace of mind and, more importantly, reduce the risks of a serious accident occurring. The elderly are especially vulnerable to accidents in the home, as are children particularly those under 4 years of age. If you have young children, or even grandchildren, who visit, look around your home to count the hazards lurking there; it is surprising how many there are. It is impossible to watch children every minute of the day, so it is vital that you make every effort to eliminate potential hazards, most of which can quickly be removed.
Different areas of the home present different safety issues. Refer to the information given below and take the necessary action. Any safety products that you need to buy are relatively inexpensive, and will be a small price to pay for the creation of a safer home environment for all the family.
The hallway, staircase and landing are the first priority. If you do not already have one, you need to install a smoke detector or two if your home is on different levels so that every member of the household can be quickly alerted in the event of a fire. Smoke alarms are inexpensive and widely available, and can save lives. Regularly check that the alarms are functioning properly by vacuuming the vents to remove dust and letting the smoke from a snuffed candle drift into them as a test. Alternatively, some alarms have a special button for testing on a weekly basis. Always follow the instructions supplied by the manufacturer, and replace batteries as soon as they run down, also keep spares in the house so that you can fid them straight away.
Sufficient lighting is vital on the staircase and in the hallway to avoid misleading shadows being cast on steps and stair treads. Rugs on polished floors can easily slip when trodden on, so attach special non slip backing strips to prevent them from sliding. Make sure, too, that the carpet is securely fitted with no tears or gaping seams, as these can cause a serious fall.
The Living Room
Ensure that any glass topped tables, patio doors and interior glass doors are fitted with roughened or laminated safety glass. You can buy a special safety film (available front DlY stores) that is invisible once fitted, but will prevent shards of glass from causing injuries should the glass shatter.
Never overload a socket outlet (receptacle), ideally, there should only be one plug to one socket. If numerous electrical appliances are in use, be sure to use the correct adapter, ask your retailer for the one most suited to your needs. Avoid trailing flexes which can easily be tripped over.
If anyone smokes in the household, insist that cigarette buts are placed in an ashtray that is washed out before going to bed. This will ensure that any smoldering ashes are extinguished and will leave the room fresher too. Ensure that an open fire is always covered with a fire guard whenever the room is unoccupied, even if only for five minutes.
Buy a kettle guard to hold a kettle safely in place so that it cannot he tipped or pulled. Alternatively, a ‘curly’ cord will prevent the hazard of a trailing flex but will still allow the kettle to be lifted. Remember to keep a domestic fire extinguisher in the kitchen, but do not position it too close to or the cooker as a pan fire would make it inaccessible. Check that everyone knows how the extinguisher works and if possible choose one that is suitable for electrical fires. A compact fire blanket, hung on the wall will suffocate flames from deep fat fryers, which are a major cause of household fires. You should never throw water on this type of fire.
Take care not to stretch over or move a gas cooker if you are wearing clothing with loose sleeves, such as a dressing gown or a baggy sweater, especially with synthetic fabrics as the gas could catch on to the fabric. Always turn pan handles inwards to avoid them being caught in loose clothing and to make sure you do not inadvertently knock them over as you pass by.
Prevent a slippery floor, bath or shower from causing falls by installing ‘grab’ rails at a height that can be easily reached. Modern baths often have an integral safety rail. If yours does not, fit a rail to the nearest wall. Mop up splashes of water and even body lotion on vinyl or tiled floors quickly, and always have a bath or shower mat on the door so that wet feet do not slip. Non slip rubber safety mars and stickers will prevent slipping while getting in or out of the bath.
Keep all electrical appliances away from sources of water where they are likely to get splashed or saturated with steam. Remember that even cordless gadgets can deliver a powerful shock if dropped into water. Replace flick switches with pull cord light switches.
Keep a check on the state of paving stones and paths, as a loose stone can easily trip an unwary visitor. Never use petrol (gasoline) or any other household chemical to light a fire or barbecue. These can ignite with an explosion, causing burning debris to land on people, pets and possessions. Keep a bucket of water handy to douse afire that gets out of hand.
When using outdoor electrical equipment, plug the appliance into a residual circuit breaker (RCD), which will cut off the power should the cable be accidentally cut or a fault occur. After finishing with any tools, make sure that you put them away in order to prevent children or pets from cutting themselves on sharp blades.
Remember to wear safety goggles and a face mask when clearing guttering, when drilling into masonry, or when applying paint or creosote, in order to prevent dust or specks from getting into your eyes, nose or mouth.