Back in 2004, The Home Safety Council completed the
most comprehensive study ever done of the severity
and causes of home injury in the United States. Not
surprisingly, the rates of injury are highest among
young children and older adults.
While there are
literally millions of home hazards that exist, the
study was able to separate out the five leading
causes of unintentional home injury. These five
leading causes are:
- Choking and suffocation
These five areas are the best place for most
homeowners to start their quest to make their home
safer. Below, we have expanded on each topic.
According to the Home Safety Council, falls
- More than 40% of all nonfatal home injuries.
- More than one-third of all injuries
resulting in an emergency department visit.
- More than one third of all unintentional
home injury deaths.
The simplest of hazards ends up being one of the
worst. And as you would suspect, falls are worse for
young children and older adults. Very few deaths
from falls occur in adults under 60. For children,
the most severe falls are general associated with
three products: baby walkers, windows, and play
equipment including trampolines. Falls down stairs
have been implicated in 75% -96% of baby
Here are a few things that you can do to prevent
people in your home from falling:
- Put window guards on all windows. New
regulations and free window guard programs in
New York City have resulted in a 50% reduction
in falls and 35% reduction in deaths.
- Put soft, protective surfaces under play
- Pay special attention to staircases. Make
sure that they have handrails, are well lighted,
do not have any loose carpeting, and are always
clear of toys and other items.
- Use safety gates both at the top and bottom
of staircases if children are in the house.
- If you have a dark basement, install a light
on the staircase and paint your bottom step a
bright color to make it more visible.
- Always clear outdoor steps of ice and snow
as soon as possible.
- Look out for pets: According to the Center
for Disease Control, Pets cause more than 86,000
fall-related injuries each year.
- Make your shower safe: use non-slip rubber
mats and install extra rails or grab bars if
necessary. Also, make sure that the existing
rails and other supports are in good condition
and can support your weight.
- Make sure that you always use (and have!)
sturdy step stools when getting things in the
kitchen or out of closets.
- Do not allow children under six years old to
climb on bunk beds.
- If you have small children, install locks on
all cabinets and drawers so that they won’t be
able to climb them.
- Require children who are riding skateboards
or bikes on your property to always wear
According to the Home Safety Council, poisoning
is the second leading cause of unintentional home
injury deaths in the United States.
While we mostly think of poisoning as something
that happens to children when they get into cleaning
supplies and other household products, it’s
something that actually affects people of all ages.
You would probably be surprised to hear that most
unintentional deaths by poisoning in the home are
due to the following:
- Appetite depressants
- Anesthetics like cocaine
- Also, amphetamines, caffeine,
antidepressants, alcohol, and motor vehicle
Most of these methods of unintentional poisoning
are for the most part self-inflicted and can only
resolved by dealing with a person’s underlying
chemical dependency issues. That said, effective
prevention efforts generally focus on keeping poison
out of the hands of children. While adults have the
highest rates of fatal poisonings, children under 5
have the largest rates of non-fatal poisoning.
Here are some of the things that children are
most often poisoned by:
- Household and cleaning products
- Personal care and beauty products
- Carbon monoxide
Here are a few things that you can do to
prevent accidental poisonings in your home:
- Place your chemicals high up on shelves. If
possible, store them out in a garden shed
outside of the house.
- If you have to put chemicals in low
cabinets, use baby proof locks and be sure that
you can properly close the doors.
- Never put household cleaners in old drink
bottles or food containers that might confuse a
- Get children and pets out of a room before
you use pesticides or other chemicals.
- Always close the packaging on a medication
or chemical if you are interrupted by the phone
or the doorbell. Many poisonings happen when an
adult leaves the room for a minute.
- Don’t trust that childproof packaging on
medications will keep children safe. The best
defense is to keep the medications out of
children’s hands in the first place.
- Don’t (obviously) store medications on easy
to reach tables or counter tops.
- Be aware of where all of the medications in
your home are, especially if you have visitors
who might leave them in an open purse or bag.
- Get rid of any old “watch” type batteries as
children can easily swallow them. Consider
getting rid of any toys or gadgets that use
What should you do if someone does get
Call your doctor and poison control