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June 2013

How Safe Is Your Home?

A home should be a haven-a place where you rest and enjoy time with family-a place of safety and security. But that isn't always the case. According to a recent study, more than 30,000 people-more of them men-die every year from accidental injuries in and around their home. Fortunately, many of these deaths can be prevented with proper home safety.

Photo of a man lying on the floor, in pain, holding his shoulder

Homing in on home injuries

In a recent study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers explored the causes of fatal home injuries. Using a national database that includes death certification information, they found that such injuries rose steadily between 2000 and 2008. The top three home-safety offenses? Poisonings, falls, and fires/burns.

Poisonings have primarily accounted for the ballooning number of fatal home injuries. They have even outpaced car crashes as the leading cause of accidental deaths. Why? More people are overdosing on prescription drugs. The most common culprits are pain relievers containing hydrocodone and oxycodone.

After poisonings, falls claim the most lives in the home setting. Adults ages 65 and older suffer the majority of fatal trips and slips. In that age group and all others, men and boys are more often the victims of home accidents. Researchers found the largest gender divide among people ages 20 to 29. Young men in their 20s were three times more likely to die from a home injury than women of the same age.

Keeping your home safe

An accident can happen anywhere-even in your home. But you can help prevent serious injuries by making your home safer. Start by posting emergency phone numbers in a handy spot. And follow these tips to prevent the top three causes of fatal home injuries.

Poisonings

  • Store household cleaning products and other chemicals, such as pesticides, out of children's reach.

  • Keep all medications-prescription and over-the-counter-secured away. Use bottles with child-resistant caps.

  • Take medication, even store bought, as prescribed. And don't combine it with alcohol or other drugs.

  • Don't share medication or take it if it has not been prescribed for you.

Falls

  • Clean up clutter and other tripping hazards, such as electrical cords.

  • Check that flooring is in good condition. Cover uneven areas with slip-resistant carpeting or rugs.

  • Install sturdy handrails along stairways and grab bars in showers and tubs.

  • When using a ladder, place it on solid and even ground. Grip the rungs, not the sides, when climbing.

Fires

  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home. Check their batteries monthly. Smoke inhalation-not burns-is the reason fires are ranked third in household deaths.

  • Equip your kitchen with a fire extinguisher. Most home fires start during cooking.

  • Develop a fire escape plan and practice it with your family.

  • Keep an eye on candles and portable heaters. Never place them close to curtains or other flammable materials.

Always talk with your health care provider to find out more information.

 

Looking for more home safety tips? Use this checklist to safeguard your home and everyone in it.

 

Online Resources

Consumer Product Safety Commission - Safety Guides

National Safety Council - Safety at Home

 

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