Accidents at home are a big problem. All I need to do is ask my firefighter brothers for “the latest and greatest” and they will tell me stories (editing out the names, of course) about the craziest things that happen to people in their homes. Sometimes these stories are funny (like the gal who got her toe stuck in the tub faucet whilst taking a bath). And some are downright heartbreaking. So many of these accidents can be avoided with a little forethought. That’s why, last week, my Sunday blog focused on tips to prevent fires at home. And that’s why, today, I’d like to cover a few items on my accident prevention checklist that will help to make your home a safer place for you and your family. So here goes…
Accident Prevention Checklist Item #1: Secure Tall/Heavy Furniture That Can Tip Over
According to a February, 2021 article by The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, “…between 2000 and 2019, 451 children under 17 were killed by furniture and TVs tipping over and crushing them.” This is an absolute tragedy because these accidents are totally preventable. Most new furniture (especially tall pieces like bookcases and chests of drawers) come with anti-tip furniture wall anchor straps. You can also buy these anchors after-market, for just a few dollars, in places like Walmart and Home Depot for furniture you buy on consignment or at thrift. The other strategy is to only buy and/or keep furniture that is solidly built and unlikely to tip over. Televisions, another big culprit, can be anchored to the wall or mounted on the wall. If you have young children in your world, please consider this life-saving change.
Accident Prevention Checklist Item #2: Install Anti-Scalding Valves on Your Shower and Tub
Many people will tell you to set your water heater at 120 degrees to prevent scalding if you have young children in your home. While you would think that this is good advice consider that the American Society of Sanitary Engineering “recommends setting the temperature of water heaters to between 130 – 140 degrees to stop the growth of bacteria, specifically Legionella Pnumophila, or Legionnaires’ Disease, a potentially fatal lung disease commonly misdiagnosed as pneumonia.” So what’s a person to do? Choosing between scalding and infecting is no choice at all. Enter the anti-scalding valve/device (thermostatic mixing valves, pressure balancing valves or temperature-limiting devices). These valves and devices, properly installed, will prevent scalding and keep the water hot enough to kill germs. It’s a win-win.
Place Stickers on Large Glass Doors to Prevent Crashes
Birds were hitting our sliders all the time until we bought reflective stickers (of birds) to prevent them from doing so. Bruce and I really didn’t even think about people and pets crashing into them until one day when our doodle, Ellie, went head-long into them. You see these stickers all the time in public spaces with large expanses of glass. They can be frosted or solid and most often consist of geometric shapes or lines. These stickers help the glass stand out – especially in bright sunlight – so that people notice it. If you care about the people in your home as much as our feathered friends, you should consider installing them.
Accident Prevention: Lock Your Medicine Cabinet to Protect From Accidental Ingestions
According to the CDC, nearly 60,000 children under 5 years of age accidently ingest prescription medication every year in the U.S. This is just absurd! If you have young children in your home, lock up your medication, even over-the-counter items and dietary supplements. If locking it up is impossible, keep these medicines and supplements well out of reach of children. Also never, ever, ever tell a child that their medicine is “candy!” They will go to great lengths to seek it out… like my brother John did, when we were kids. He ate an entire bottle of Flintstones Chewable Vitamins – and ended up in the ER having his stomach pumped. Also, don’t count on childproof caps to guard against these accidental ingestions. Most of the time these caps prove to be be “adult-proof” and are a snap for a child to open.
Place Non-Skid Mats in Showers and Tubs to Prevent Falls
I had my tub re-glazed to white when I bought my home. (It was a weird brown color before that.) I did it purely for aesthetics, but when the installer was there he suggested adding a non-slip finish to the base as part of the glaze. I hadn’t really thought about it prior to his suggestion, but this has been a brilliant addition to our home. No falling in the shower for us with this gritty surface underfoot. If you aren’t about to re-glaze your tub, rubber decals or non-slip mats work just as well to prevent these incidents. Be sure to clean or replace them often, however, to prevent mold build-up.
Insider Tip: Although I love to tell you all about great things to buy on consignment at Consignments Ltd., I highly recommend buying these mats brand new. Unless you find them new in the package on consignment or at thrift, I would shy away from used bath mats for sanitary reasons.
Secure Area Rugs with Rug Pads or Tape to Prevent Falls
When my Dad got really sick he became very frail. The few times that he did fall he really did a number on himself, including a broken wrist and two broken ribs. When the home-health aid came to visit, the first thing she said was “get rid of all these little scatter rugs. They are a fall risk.” She was so right. My mom missed her precious oriental carpets, but she sure didn’t miss all the trips to the ER because Dad had fallen. If you have small area rugs, make sure you have rubber rug pads under them to prevent their movement. Have a rug corner that just won’t lay flat? Use rug tape to secure the corner and prevent falls.
Staying safe takes minutes… getting hurt can impact a lifetime. Take the time to check your house for these hazards on my accident prevention checklist and let me know if you have others to suggest? For more on home safety, check out my previous blog: Fall Home Maintainance Checklist: 5 Key Safety-Oriented Tasks.