How safe is your home? Most homes could be safer, and contain many hidden hazards that could be harmful to anyone. By taking a few simple steps to safeguard your home, you can help prevent many common home injuries from occurring.
Read the following list, and check the box after you have successfully completed the task described:
- Keep emergency numbers on every phone; include fire, police, your doctor(s), ambulance service and the poison control hotline (1-800-222-1222).
- Make sure your house number is visible from the street.
- Be sure to have at least one telephone in your house connected to a land-line, because cordless phones do not work in power outages. In addition, cell-phones run out of power, and their service may be interrupted in an emergency situation.
- Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor. Test batteries monthly and change twice a year when you change your clocks for daylight savings time.
- Install decorative markers on glass doors so that people do not walk into them by mistake.
- Eliminate clutter. Keep stairways and walkways clear of tripping hazards.
- Have furnaces, hot water heaters and other gas appliances, as well as chimneys and flues, inspected regularly. Never use kerosene or gas space heaters in unvented rooms, and never keep cars, motorcycles or lawnmowers running in a closed or attached garage. (For the CDC’s recommendations for CO safety, see www.cdc.gov/co/guidelines.htm.)
Home Safety Checklist for Children
Approximately 4.5 million children are injured by hazards in the home each year. Parents should teach their children about safety at home, at school, on the playground and while traveling. This includes knowing their address and how to call 911. Never leave young children unattended. Read this list, and check the box after you have successfully completed the task described.
- Cover all unused electrical sockets; keep electrical cords, including cell phone chargers, out of children’s reach.
- Install protective padding on the corners of coffee tables and any furniture with sharp edges.
- Use safety latches and locks on cabinets and drawers.
- Protect children from dangerous areas. Install safety gates at the top and bottom of stairways and netting around open stairway landings or railed areas. Gates that screw to the wall are more secure than pressure gates. Place guards on banisters and railings if your child can fit through the rails.
- Secure tall bookcases and televisions or computer monitors on stands that might tip over.
- Install safety bars or window guards on upper-story windows, balconies and landings, and use safety netting around railings to help prevent falls from elevated spots around your home. Window screens are not effective for preventing children from falling out of windows. (If window guards are used, ensure that at least one window in each room can easily be used as an exit in case of fire.)
- Tie up high all vertical blind cords, and keep electrical cords out of reach.
- Install doorknob covers on entry doors so small children can’t leave the house unattended.
- Use nightlights, but keep the small plastic bulbs out of reach of children.
- Remove rubber tips from door stops, so children cannot choke on them, or install one-piece doorstops.
- Pay attention to all equipment recalls, including those for “hand-me-downs.”
- Store drugs and chemicals (e.g., cleaning products, pesticides and bleach) out of reach and in their original containers so you are sure of their contents.
- Remove any poisonous houseplants. Common poisonous flowers and houseplants include holly, daffodils, aloe, jade, peace lily (Spathiphyllum), philodendron and dumbcane (Dieffenbachia), rhododendron and chrysanthemum. For a comprehensive list of poisonous house and garden plants, see the National Capital Poison Control Center’s Web site at www.poison.org/prevent/plants.asp.
- Avoid home and garden applications of pesticides and herbicides when children (especially infants) are present or nearby, and always check the label of the product you are using for use restrictions and safety precautions. To limit children’s exposure to pesticides, consider using integrated pest management (IPM), which employs less toxic and non-toxic pest-control measures and is used in many school systems.
- Be aware that several pesticides, such as pyrethrins and pyrethroids, organophosphates and carbamates, are also known to cause or exacerbate asthma symptoms, and that specific products found to be harmful to children, including the organophosphates chlorpyrifos (trade name Dursban®) and diazinon have been phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency.)
- Buy medicines, vitamins and household products with child-resistant caps. Store in their original containers and place out of the reach of children.
- Keep toys with small parts (and other small objects) out of the reach of toddlers and young children. If the object can fit easily into the cardboard center of a roll of toilet tissue, the object can pose a choking hazard.
- If you own any firearms, always store unloaded and locked. Firearms and ammunition should be stored separately.
Kitchen Safety Checklist
- Turn pot handles inward on stoves or placed pots on back burners.
- Store glass objects or appliances with sharp blades out of reach.
- Keep refrigerator magnets and small objects out of reach.
- Keep plastic bags – garbage bags, sandwich bags, dry-cleaning bags, grocery bags — out of reach.
- Make sure working smoke safety detectors are installed either in this room or in immediate areas where smoke will rise.
- Keep a fire extinguisher handy and check it periodically to assure proper functioning.
Children’s Bedroom Safety Checklist
- Use a crib that meets current standards and has a firm, tight-fitting mattress so that your child cannot slip between the crack and the crib side.
- Check that crib slats are less than 2 3/8 inches (6 centimeters) apart.
- To avoid risk of suffocation, never place blankets, pillows or extra stuffed animals in crib.
- Never place babies to sleep in adult beds, as it puts them at risk for suffocation or strangulation.
- Make sure toy chests are non-locking and that lids have supports to keep them from slamming closed.
Bathroom Safety Checklist
- Install emergency releases on the outside of your bathroom and bedroom doors, or cover or remove locks so children cannot lock themselves in.
- Set your water heater at a temperature no higher than 125 degrees F to prevent scalding.
- Unplug curling irons, hair dryers and electric razors when not in use.
- Lock up any bottles of mouthwash, perfume, hair spray, or nail polish. Also any scissors, razor blades or sharp tools.
- Install nonskid strips in bathtubs.
- Verify that outlets have grounded circuit breakers.
Outdoor Safety Checklist
- Be cautious when using ladders. Inspect for loose or worn parts. Use only on stable, level ground, and don’t overreach.
- Keep walkways clear of clutter.
- Inspect swing-sets to make sure they are free from rust or sharp edges.
- Wear protective footwear, eyewear and hearing protection when mowing the lawn. Keep young children away from lawnmowers.
- Wear protective eyewear when operating power tools.
- If you have a swimming pool, install a four-sided fence with an automatic “child proof” gate.
- Remove ladders when an above-ground pool is not in use.
Fire Safety Checklist
- Keep fire extinguishers on every floor and in the kitchen, and check them periodically to assure proper functioning.
- Store matches and lighters in a locked cabinet.
- Keep an emergency ladder for upper levels of your home.
- Develop and practice a fire escape plan.
Home Safety Checklist for Older Adults and the Disabled
As people age, the types of common injuries change, although the risk of injury does not. Adults over 65 are particularly vulnerable to falls and poisoning. Diminished eyesight, hearing and physical stability all play a part. To help minimize the chance of your loved one getting hurt, review the checklist below:
- Arrange furniture to create clear pathways and reduce the risk of falling.
- Install grab bars and other safety devices to assist with getting in and out of bathtubs or showers.
- Be sure the bottom of the tub or shower has a non-skid surface.
- Install an elevated toilet seat.
- Consider using a panic button (as a pendant, wristband or necklace).
- Remove clutter. Don’t leave objects on the stairs or on walkways.
- Remove throw rugs. Tack or tape down other rugs to avoid tripping.
- Install and secure handrails and banisters on both sides of stairs.
- Install nightlights in the bedroom, hall and bathroom. Be sure the tops and bottoms of stairs are well lit.
- Install nonslip treads on bare wood steps.
- Repair loose stairway carpeting or boards.
- If there is more than one person in the household taking the same or similar medication, consider using color-coded medicine caps on the original container to prevent mixing up the dosage, and be sure to completely deface the label when using medicine bottles to store different types of medications.
- Consider enrolling in a service, such as MedicaAlert Foundation, to have 24-hour access to your medical records.