😑😱😫 This article was medically reviewed by Luba Lee, FNP-BC, MS. Luba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and educator in Tennessee with over a decade of clinical experience. Luba has certifications in Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing. She received her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) from the University of Tennessee in 2006.
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😑😱😫 More than 11,000 people die at home each year as a result of preventable injuries such as falls, fires, drownings, and poisonings, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). By addressing a few, key issues around your home and taking the proper, precautionary measures, you can prevent yourself and your loved ones from falling victim to household injuries.
Part 1Part 1 of 5:Addressing Electrical Issues Download Article
- 1Don’t overload sockets. Many older homes contain electrical systems, which aren't properly equipped to handle modern power demands.XResearch source Don’t tempt fate by plugging too many devices into the same socket.
- Never plug more than two appliances into an outlet at once. Using extension cords to plug multiple appliances into one outlet, is also strongly discouraged.XResearch source
- Large appliances such as your refrigerator should have an outlet to themselves.
- Contact a professional if you hear a sound coming from the outlet or smell something burning.
- Cover unused sockets with a socket plug. This is particularly important if there are small children in the home.
- 2Have your electrical wiring checked. Dangers from electrical shock and fire are so concerning that when it comes to the construction industry, electrical wiring is very closely monitored.XResearch source Even still, things can deteriorate over time. This is particularly true in older homes but applies to newer homes as well.
- It may be a good idea to have a licensed electrician inspect your home if you've never had your wiring inspected.XResearch source
- If the lights are flickering or some of the outlets don’t function properly, this could be a sign of an electrical issue. Contact a professional to come in and inspect the house.
- Though it is not advisable, should you decide to inspect the wiring yourself, make sure to turn off the circuit on your breaker panel!
- 3Stop using appliances with frayed power cords. You may not realize it, but power cords have several layers. Visible damage at the outer layer of a power cable, whether that’s pinching, tearing, or frays, is probably a good indication of damage to the inner layers as well.XResearch source Do yourself a favor and stop using the appliance if this happens.
- If the appliance needs to be used until a replacement is found, you can temporarily fix the cord with electrical tape. However, it is not advisable to do this, as fires and short circuits could still occur.
- If you can’t bear to part with the appliance, have the power cord replaced by an electrician as soon as possible.
- Most importantly, if you suspect damage has been done to the middle layer of a power cable, you need to stop using it immediately.XResearch source
- 4Unplug an item if it falls into water or another liquid. Water easily conducts electricity and can cause a fatal shock if something like a hairdryer falls into the tub. If this happens, don’t reach into the water. First, unplug the device so it doesn’t carry an electrical current. Then you can safely remove it from the water.XTrustworthy SourceUS Occupational Safety and Health AdministrationU.S. government agency responsible for setting and enforcing workplace safety standardsGo to source
Part 2Part 2 of 5:Using Caution in the Kitchen Download Article
- 1Don’t leave pots or pans unattended. Regardless of whether you have small children in your home, pots and pans should never be left unattended. Grease fires are often the culprit of kitchen fires, so never leave a pan unattended when you're frying fat.XResearch source
- If you need to leave the kitchen, turn off the stove and remove pots and pans from the hot burners.
- Treat the microwave the same as a stove. Don’t leave items unattended while they are heating up.
- When you are cooking, children should not be left unattended in the kitchen either.
- 2Turn handles in when cooking. Children and adults alike could fall victim to burns and other related injuries if handles aren’t turned in toward the back of the stove while cooking.
- If the handles have plastic on them, be sure they are not placed above another hot burner.
- Handle pots and pans, without plastic guards, with care. The handles could be extremely hot and may cause burns.
- 3Keep knives out of reach. Whether they are in use or not, be sure all knives are kept out of reach and are properly secured. When you are using them, make sure they are not resting on something that can easily be pulled down. Get in the habit of placing knives on a flat, clutter-free surface to ensure they won’t accidentally fall.
- Knives should be stored, blade down, in a designated container, far from the reach of children.
- Dirty knives should not be left in the sink. Instead, immediately wash the knife after each use.
- When carrying knives, keep the cutting edge angled away from your body and leave the tip facing your side.XTrustworthy SourceUS Occupational Safety and Health AdministrationU.S. government agency responsible for setting and enforcing workplace safety standardsGo to source
- Do not attempt to carry knives while there is a lot of commotion in the kitchen.
- 4Monitor children around hot objects. Whether it’s a hot stovetop, a pot of boiling water, or a bowl of soup, children should always be monitored around hot objects. One idea is to establish an off-limits area, which encompasses any hot appliances such as the stove, fireplace, barbecue, heaters, etc.
- Never allow your child to carry hot items.
- It may be wise to restrict them from playing with pots and pans when they’re not in use. This will help to avoid any confusion when they are on the stove.
- 5Store heavy items close to the ground. When organizing your kitchen, place heavy items such as pots, skillets, and appliances in lower cabinets. You don't want to risk having a heavy item fall on your head.XResearch source
Part 3Part 3 of 5:Preventing Fires Download Article
- 1Install smoke alarms. One of the easiest ways to reduce fire-related injuries is to install smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained.XTrustworthy SourceNational Fire Protection AssociationNonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.Go to source
- Make sure alarms are installed in bedrooms and on every floor of your house.
- Alarms need to be replaced every ten years, so remember to keep track of when they were installed.
- Get in the habit of testing your alarm every month or so.
- Do not change or alter the alarm in any way; that includes leaving it unpainted, regardless of whether it stands out!
- Spring ahead and fall back - you may want to consider changing the batteries on your alarm every time you change your clocks. Many people commonly change their batteries every fall during daylight savings time. This is also a good time to test fire alarms.XResearch source
- 2Have a fire extinguisher on hand. Though they have limitations, make sure you have a portable fire extinguisher on every level of your home along escape routes. It not only saves lives but can aid in reducing property damage.XTrustworthy SourceNational Fire Protection AssociationNonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.Go to source
- Owning a fire extinguisher is just as important as knowing where it is located. Try to keep it in the same spot and to inform your family members of its whereabouts.
- It may make sense to keep the fire extinguisher in your kitchen at least 30 feet away from your stove, as this is where many fires start.
- Read the instructions after purchasing a fire extinguisher and familiarize your family members with how to work it.
- To operate a fire extinguisher, remember the word PASS:XTrustworthy SourceNational Fire Protection AssociationNonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.Go to source
- Pull the pin. Keeping the nozzle pointed away from your body, hold the extinguisher and release the locking mechanism.
- Aim low. Aim the extinguisher at the base of the fire, as opposed to the top.
- Squeeze the lever slowly and evenly.
- Sweep the nozzle from side-to-side.
- It's very important that you only use a fire extinguisher if the fire is small. Do not try to manage a fire that has spread throughout your house.
- Owning a fire extinguisher is just as important as knowing where it is located. Try to keep it in the same spot and to inform your family members of its whereabouts.
- 3Create a fire escape plan. In the event of a fire, you and your family should have an escape plan, as you may only have a minute or two to escape from a rapidly spreading fire.XTrustworthy SourceNational Fire Protection AssociationNonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.Go to source One minute or two doesn't give you enough time to formulate a plan, which is why it’s so important to have one in place.
- Prior to creating the plan, walk around the home and point out all exits.
- Establish a meeting location outside of the home.
- If there are children in the home, indicate which adults should get the kids.
- If the children are older, you may want to draw a map of the house, indicating exit points.
- Make sure everyone knows the plan and try to review it every couple of months.
- 4Just say no to smoking in the house. The best way to prevent smoking-related injuries and accidents is to not allow it in your home.
- Any paraphernalia, such as matches and lighters, should be kept out of reach.
- If someone is smoking outside, provide them with an ashtray so that they can safely extinguish the cigarette.
Part 4Part 4 of 5:Storing Medicines & Cleaning Supplies Download Article
- 1Install safety locks where medicine/cleaners are kept. Have a designated spot for cleaning products, along with an additional spot for medicine. Keep the storage spaces locked, particularly if they are within reach of children.
- Don’t forget to move medicine back to its safe storage spot after work or vacation. Medicine, which was accidentally left within reach of a child (a purse, counter, etc.), results in 67% of emergency room visits for medicine poisoning.XResearch source
- Similarly, return cleaning products to their spot immediately after use. Do not leave them lying around while you’re cleaning.
- Have a plan in place for medicine brought into the house by visitors. It may help to have a cabinet installed in the guest bathroom that is out of reach from children.
- Don’t let your children play with medicine bottles. While it may seem like a good substitute for a rattle, this will only cause confusion.
- 2Label medicine properly. In addition to being properly stored, medicine should also be labeled correctly. If possible, try to keep it in the original bottle to avoid confusion. This will also help when it comes time to administer the medicine, as you will be able to follow the instructions.
- Keep an eye on expiration dates. If you do move the medicine into a new container, be sure to note the expiration date.
- 3Consider outdoor cleaning products as well. It’s not just potential hazards inside your home that you need to consider. Products such as windshield wiper fluid, pool cleaners, and pesticides need to be safely stored as well.
- If you decide to store outdoor cleaners in the garage, be sure it is kept locked and shut when children aren’t being supervised.
- You should still purchase a secure cabinet for such materials. Even after they've been installed, get in the habit of checking to make sure all cabinets/containers are tightly secured.
Part 5Part 5 of 5:Taking Additional Precautionary Measures Download Article
- 1Protect yourself from falls around your home. Falls are some of the main causes of injury at home, so it’s important to keep your floors uncluttered. Move furniture and items out of high-traffic areas in your home so you don’t accidentally trip over them. If you spill something, clean it up right away so you don’t slip.XTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
- Keep your home well-lit so you don’t trip on something in the dark.
- If you need to, install handrails or grab bars to help support yourself.
- You can also put non-slip mats in your tub or shower so you don’t fall down while you’re bathing.
- 2Don’t forget carbon monoxide detectors. Carbon monoxide is often referred to as the invisible killer, as it's an odorless, colorless gas.XTrustworthy SourceNational Fire Protection AssociationNonprofit organization devoted to eliminating death, injury, property and economic loss due to fire, electrical and related hazards.Go to source For this reason, always make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home.
- Like fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors should be checked frequently.
- If you hear the signal on the detector, check the batteries first. If the batteries are still working, immediately call the fire department.
- Wait for the fire department outside.
- 3Install safety gates for small children. Choose the right type of safety gate based on the location.XTrustworthy SourceConsumer ReportsNonprofit organization dedicated to consumer advocacy and product testingGo to source Primarily, there are two types of gates - one that requires screws in order to be mounted and another which is held in place by pressure. It’s important to understand which type of gate should be used where.
- Gates used at the top of stairs are often hardware-mounted, while pressure-mounted gates can be used at bottom of stairs and between rooms.XTrustworthy SourceConsumer ReportsNonprofit organization dedicated to consumer advocacy and product testingGo to source
- Always follow the instructions carefully. When in doubt, ask a professional to install the gate.
- 4Buy pads for area rugs. While an area rug can instantly transform a room, it can also be the source of household injuries. Always purchase a rug pad for your area rugs. In doing so, you can help to prevent children and adults, alike, from accidentally slipping.
- If you’re concerned about a rug pad damaging your floor, consider a rubber pad, as it has a non-slip grip, is made of eco-friendly materials, and is generally safe for hardwood floors.
- 5Keep driveways and sidewalks clean. It is important, particularly during the fall and winter months, to keep driveways and sidewalks clean. Both should be free of leaves, snow, and ice in order to prevent injuries from occurring.
- The harsh winter months may also cause cracks and splits. Try to make the repairs as quickly as possible. If you are unable to fix the problem, seek the help of a professional.
- 6Install lights at the top and bottom of stairs. One common household injury is falling down the stairs.XTrustworthy SourcePubMed CentralJournal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of HealthGo to source The culprit is often dim or non-existing lighting. By adding lights to both the top and bottom of your staircase, you can help to prevent unnecessary falls.
- The same is true for outdoor steps. Be sure there is good visibility by installing an overhead light.
- You may want to consider installing a motion detector light for outside staircases as well, in case of unexpected visitors.
- 7Fence in your pool. Thousands of American families suffer from unnecessary swimming pool tragedies on a yearly basis. By fencing in your pool and using a self-latching gate, you will be helping to prevent needless accidents.
- Consider a pool cover as well. This should be used in addition to and not instead of the fence. A pool alarm may also be useful to let you know when others get into the water.
- Ensure the fence is at least 4 feet tall, though anything above 5 feet tall is preferable.
- Don't place chairs, tables, or benches near the fence. You want to avoid having anything nearby that would assist someone in climbing over.
- Be sure to actively supervise children when they are using the pool, and have everyone in your household informed on responding to aquatic emergencies.XResearch source
Expert Q&A Did you know you can get expert answers for this article?Unlock expert answers by supporting wikiHow
- QuestionWhat are some other ways to prevent home accidents?Luba Lee, FNP-BC, MSLuba Lee, FNP-BC is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and educator in Tennessee with over a decade of clinical experience. Luba has certifications in Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS), Emergency Medicine, Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Team Building, and Critical Care Nursing. She received her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) from the University of Tennessee in 2006.
Master's Degree, Nursing, University of Tennessee KnoxvilleMaster's Degree, Nursing, University of Tennessee KnoxvilleExpert Answer
- Turn off and unplug all appliances before leaving home.
- Set your water heater's temperature to 120 F (50 C) to prevent scalding.
- Install nightlights in the bedrooms of the elderly and children to help prevent falls during the night.
- Close cabinets, drawers, and doors after use.
- Keep a list of emergency numbers in a highly visible location. Include poison control, doctors, and phone numbers of friends and family.
About This Article
The best way to prevent home accidents is to watch for potential hazards, such as electrical issues or unsafe items left out. For example, make sure you never plug more than two appliances into an outlet at once to avoid overloading the sockets. In the kitchen, turn pot handles in when cooking and keep knives stored blade down in a container out of reach. Additionally, in case of a fire, make sure you have smoke alarms in every bedroom, and test them each month to ensure they work properly. To learn how to install safety locks on your medicine cabinets, read more from our Registered Nurse co-author.