Dangers in the home!

We all think of our homes as a place of safety, mainly after we all lived through the pandemic. Although every day or week, we hear of someone getting injured in their home. Recently, many toddlers throughout the country have been severely injured or even worse in residential elevator accidents. A few residential elevator manufacturers failed to recognize that toddlers could get trapped between the space of the home’s interior door and the elevator’s door. After learning this after multiple children were injured and trapped, most manufacturers started adding “Elevator Space Guards.” But if you have a residential elevator in your home, see if that 4-inch space that creates the danger is present or if a space guard is there. For more information, you can go to https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2022/Residential-Elevators-Recalls-Home-Elevators-Due-to-Child-Entrapment-Hazard-Risk-of-Serious-Injury-or-Death-to-Young-Children.

Trips and Falls

After being a home inspector in Florida for almost ten years, I have a different view when it comes to looking at a home. Also, being a grandpa and father, it is even more critical to help everyone know the dangers inside our homes and what we can do to help protect our families. The following list of dangers in the house is by no means comprehensive or all-inclusive; it is a list of the hazards in the home that I am aware of listed the most to least frequent. Research and examination can prevent many of the dangers in our homes. Stairs, trips and falls, and loose flooring or objects on the floor can all cause injuries and are preventable. The most susceptible are children and senior citizens. Falls are the leading cause of death in home accidents.   Unfortunately, the elderly is the most affected due to the fragile condition of most seniors. Prevention can be as easy as motion lighting, more lighting around stairs, and safety gates to protect children at the top and bottom of the staircases. Keeping items off the floors and wiping up spills and liquids also increase safety. In most household dangers, the key to safety is knowledge and research.

Fire           

Fire dangers and safety have significantly increased in the last 30 years, but over 3,000 American lives are lost each year. Fire Hazards are number two on the list of the most common dangers at home. There are more alarm systems and smoke detectors in Florida, where I live, but I am still finding homes with no smoke detectors present or no batteries in them with people occupying the house. Smoke detectors are about $10 each, so safety doesn’t cost much! Replace the batteries twice a year, and testing each sensor monthly is ideal. Cooking fires from oil and grease fires also are fire hazards, and you should never try to extinguish them with water. Using baking soda is possible if it’s just a tiny fire, but keeping a Class B Fire Extinguisher in the kitchen is safer. Everything from Christmas lights, electrical wiring issues, and burning candles can cause fires. Fire safety is best with a safety plan, so everyone knows to get out and plan each exit before a fire happens.

Drowning

We all love spending time in our pools, and pool safety awareness is at the forefront of news and public information from numerous sources. However, 93 children drowned in Florida in 2022, as per the Florida Department of Children and Families. They didn’t just drown in swimming pools, in any case. Some were in rivers, retention ponds, canals, and even bathtubs. In most cases, a parent or adult was only not watching the kids for a few minutes. Drowning can occur in just a few inches of water in a small bucket to any natural body of water. The best prevention is multiple layers of protection with supervision, door alarms, barriers, and preparedness. I recommend that parents with infants or small children educate and prepare by going to https://www.watersmartfl.com/.

Choking/Swallowing         

All of us can remember sitting around the table enjoying a meal, someone coughed or got choked, their color changed, and we all got that “Oh no” feeling. I remember my granddaughter once getting choked on a piece of pineapple and scared us all until that pineapple was spit out. Adults and even more kids get choked or swallow the wrong things and get injured or worse. Choking and Swallowing dangers can come from many places around a home, from small toys, coins, latex balloons, caps for pens or markers, batteries, beads, and many other small items found in every home. So, it’s not just food that needs to be cut smaller. Kids have lots of energy and want to move all the time, but it’s essential to insist that they sit at the table in an upright position. It’s never a good idea to let them eat in a moving vehicle because if you’re driving, you can’t watch them while they are eating. Supervise children when eating because it only takes 4 minutes or less for brain damage if an object gets stuck in their throat and does not allow oxygen to get to their brain. A great way to prevent this is before a child gets old enough to crawl, you should get down on the floor at their view and see what items could be a danger to them. Older children’s toys should be kept separate from younger kids. Follow the toy manufacturing label instructions on age.

Strangulation

Another great place to examine is around all windows for hanging cords from blinds, chains, and curtains. Strangulation dangers are among the most common happening in the home. It can happen from electrical cords in garages and numerous places throughout the house, so be sure to move beds and furniture away from window cords and any dangers out of reach of children. Don’t tie clothing or items around children’s or infants’ necks while playing or at bedtime. Ensure the boxes or containers have air holes, store all plastic bags out of reach, and don’t use plastic as a waterproof material in cribs and beds. The best prevention of all is always supervision of children. Monitors and Cameras increase our ability to see and hear them and help with prevention.

 

Furniture

The last danger to discuss is furniture danger, also found in many places in every home. Televisions are not installed securely and fall off walls. Bookcases, dressers, and shelves must be appropriately mounted to the walls and fall over on small children. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, furniture tip-overs injure more than 20,000 people annually. We avoid these injuries with simple tips. Choose your furniture with quality and safety and anchor any unstable furniture that could tip over.  Don’t allow children under 6 to use bunk beds; please ensure they have the recommended safety rails. Recliners today are for adults; don’t let your children play on or around recliners. Keep all furniture away from candles, cigarettes, & fireplaces due to potential fire hazards. Research, knowledge, and observation are the best protection and prevention for furniture dangers.

As a homeowner, we must protect our families and guests. By learning about the potential dangers, we know what to watch out for and preventative changes we may need to make for increased safety. It’s good to observe and examine the home through the eyes of a guest and child. Look for possible things that could be a danger. Children climb, run, and sometimes open or get into areas to try to keep away for their safety. Be prepared when something happens by having poison control and potential emergency phone numbers in our phones. It’s always better to plan in case of an accident, so we know what to do. We protect our families and those we love by learning ways to prevent and reduce these in-home dangers.

Written by Kenton Heiden/ A+ Inspect It LLC