Avoiding the Most Common Household Injuries
Accidents are part and parcel of life. However, many of them can be prevented with a little forethought and planning. According to WebMD, one-third of all injuries occur at home, and most of them impact young children and the elderly.
Some of the most common household injuries include cuts and burns, suffocation and choking, slips and falls, and accidental poisoning. Unfortunately, some of these injuries can be serious or even fatal.
For instance, the National Safety Council found that falls are the leading cause of household injuries in the U.S., resulting in more than 8.9 million visits to the ER every year. Additionally, falls are also the second highest cause of deaths, after automobile accidents.
Common Causes of Household Accidents
According to U.S. News and World Report, more than 18,000 people die every year in their homes because of accidents. And the risk rises exponentially for those below the age of five and above the age of 70.
As stated earlier, falls are the leading cause of home accidents. Bathrooms, stairs, and slippery floors are the most likely areas for accidents to occur.
Poisoning is the second most-dangerous cause of accidental home injury and death. From mixing prescription drugs to accidental ingestion of chemicals, poisoning takes almost 5,000 lives every year. Some common causes of poisoning are household cleaning products, medicines, lead, plants, and carbon monoxide. The Poison Help Hotline (1-800-222-1222), which is staffed 24 hours a day, can help with explanations about drug interactions, etc.
Fires, whether big or small, can cause a lot of damage within a home. Besides damaging property, fires can also lead to smoke inhalation and burns.
Choking and suffocation is the fourth leading cause of household injury, especially for young children. Any small object that is swallowed can lodge in the airway and cause obstruction.
Drowning results in many calls for emergency help. Whether you have a pool or a bathtub filled with a few inches of water, it is important to keep a vigilant eye, especially if you have children.
Even though it is nearly impossible to prevent all household accidents, there are plenty of measures that can be taken to minimize potential injuries.
The bathroom is a hot zone for accidents, so be sure to make the bathroom slip-free. Install safety bars and non-skid bath mats on the floor and in the shower/bath tub. Keep a mop handy to wipe up all wet spots immediately.
The stairs are another leading cause for falls. Remove all clutter from the stairway and keep it well lit. If you have a carpeted staircase, make sure that the carpet is not loose and does not have any holes that can catch a foot or shoe. There should be sturdy handrails on both sides, if possible.
If you have throw rugs, make sure they are secured using tape, since they are tripping hazards.
To prevent accidental poisoning, make sure you keep all possible sources in difficult-to-access places, even under lock and key, if possible. Try to get all medicines in childproof packaging.
Make sure you know your medicines and follow directions carefully. If you have any doubts about mixing medications or drinking alcohol with your medicines, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Get carbon monoxide monitors and install them around the house. Since carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, an alarm can alert you to any leaks or accumulation of the gas.
Cuts from knives and blades are another cause for concern. Make sure you store your knives carefully. Do not leave knives lying on the counter or in the sink where people could grab the blade without realizing it.
Be careful while cutting and keep an eye on children when they are in the kitchen. Teach children about knife safety measures.
Fires can cause enormous amount of damage so make sure that your fire alarms are well maintained. Install alarms at every level of your house and in every room. Most fires in homes occur in kitchens so keep a sharp eye out while you are cooking and keep a fire extinguisher handy.
The water heater in your house should not be kept above 120 degrees Fahrenheit since anything higher will cause burns within minutes.
Choking and suffocation also cause injuries and death. Keep a sharp eye out for any object, from coins and bits of paper to toy parts and pieces of crayons, that can be swallowed by children. Do regular checks of your floors and room corners to remove hazards.
Keeps your baby’s crib clear of toys and blankets, keeps strings such as blind pulls out of sight, and be vigilant about plastic materials.
Pools and bathtubs can also be danger zones. Your pool should have a fence that is at least four feet high with a childproof gate. Do not leave young children alone in a bathtub.
Make sure you have a fully loaded First Aid kit that contains bandages of different sizes, antiseptic creams, hydrogen peroxide for cleaning wounds, burn ointment, painkillers, and ice packs, among other items.
Steps to Take before Medical Help Arrives
As the name indicates, accidents can happen no matter how vigilant and prepared we are. If you or a family member fall victim to a household accident, keep calm. Call 911 immediately if you need help.
If you are certified or know basic first aid techniques, use them, depending on the situation.
In case of a fire that is out of control, get out of the house and wait for the fire service.