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Home safety: Prevent falls, fires, burns & more

June is Home Safety Month, so be sure to brush up on the top  hazards all families need to be concerned about.
/ Source: TODAY

Home injuries cause nearly 20,000 deaths and 21 million medical visits on average each year. Don't let your home be a booby trap! June is Home Safety Month, so be sure to brush up on the top hazards families need to be concerned about. Meri-K Appy, President of Home Safety Council lists the five major dangers — falls, poisoning, fires/burns, choking and drowning:

Falls — Install Grab Bars (Only 24 percent of homes have them)
People don't install these because the average homeowner can't do it on their own. There is a new easy-to-install grab bar that takes much less time and effort.

Prevention:

  • Have grab bars in the tub and shower.
  • Have bright lights over stairs and steps and on landings.
  • Have handrails on both sides of the stairs and steps.
  • Use a ladder for climbing instead of a stool or furniture.If babies or toddlers live in or visit your home, use baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairs.

Water Safety — Prevent Scalds Hot water can burn like fire;  it only takes 5 seconds for 140 degree water to cause third degree burns. You can prevent this entirely but adjusting your hot water heater. There is also a new anti-scald device on the market that is easy to install and can regulate hot water.

Prevention:

  • Keep your hot water at or below 120oF degrees to prevent burns.
  • Stay within an arm's length of children in and around water. This includes the bathtub, toilet, pools and spas - even buckets of water.
  • Put a fence all the way around your pool or spa.
  • Empty large buckets and wading pools after using them. Store them upside down when you are not using them.
  • Make sure your children always swim with an adult. No child or adult should swim alone.

Fire Safety — Do a Night time Fire Drill A new HSC survey shows that less than 1.5 percent of families have done a night time drill, even though many fatal fires happen while you are sleeping.

  • Have working smoke alarms and hold fire drills. If you build a new home, install fire sprinklers.
  • Stay by the stove when cooking, especially when you are frying food.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn. Turn them off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • If you smoke, smoke outside. Use deep ashtrays and put water in them before you empty them. Lock matches and lighters in a place where children can't reach them.
  • Only use candles when an adult is in the room. Blow the candle out if you leave the room or go to sleep.

Poisoning — What do you keep in your garage?
Most families store some dangerous items in their garage and poisons like antifreeze, pesticides, etc. and most fail to store them safely. Meri-K can show what to look for on the labels and how to properly store them. She can also talk about gasoline, which isn't a poison risk but commonly stored in the garage and a very serious danger if not handled properly.

Prevention:

  • Read the label before using products. If you see the words "caution", "warning", "danger", or "poison", lock these items in a place where children can't reach them.
  • Keep all cleaners in their original containers. Do not mix them together.
  • Use medications carefully. Follow the directions. Keep them locked away from children and use child resistant caps.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors near sleeping areas.
  • Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 if someone takes poison. If you have a question about poisons, this number will also connect you to emergency help in your area.

Choking
This is a danger parents need to worry about with young children. Meri-K can demonstrate how to know what to keep away from little children by using a choke tube. She can also demonstrate the dangers of window blind cords and drawstrings on hooded shirts, etc that can be a strangulation risk for active children.

Prevention:

  • Things that can fit through a toilet paper tube can cause a young child to choke. Keep coins, latex balloons and hard round foods, such as peanuts and hard candy, out of children's reach.
  • Don't put pillows, comforters or toys in cribs. These can suffocate children.
  • Clip the loops in window cords and place them up high where children can't get them.
  • Read the labels on toys. Be sure that your child is old enough to play with them.
  • Tell children to sit down when they eat and to take small bites.

ABOUT HSC:
The Home Safety CouncilR (HSC) is the only national nonprofit organization solely dedicated to preventing home related injuries that result in nearly 20,000 deaths and 21 million medical visits on average each year.

Meri-K Appy is President of the Washington-based Home Safety Council, the only national organization solely dedicated to preventing unintentional home injuries. Since joining the Council in March 2003, Appy has redefined the organization's mission and strategic vision with a sharp focus on organizational partnerships to reduce home injuries.