64 Ways to Make Your Home a Safer Place
Experts indicate that most accidents happen in and around the home. Taking a few simple precautions in your everyday activities can prevent most of those from ever occurring.
Check out some of the advice we collected below.
Living Room, Dining Room and Bedrooms
- If you have small children or pets, make sure unused wall outlets have safety coverings. Unprotected wall outlets can be a hazard.
- Check that outlets and wall switches are cool to the touch. Unusual warmth may indicate an unsafe wiring connection and should be checked by an electrician.
- Make sure all outlets and switches are working properly. Faulty equipment may mean unsafe wiring.
- All outlets and switches should have faceplates. Exposed wiring is a shock hazard.
- Check that extension cords are correctly rated for the amount of electricity they are to carry and are Underwriter Laboratory (UL) approved. Make sure extension and lamp cords are out of traffic areas. Cords can create tripping hazards and may be damaged if you walk on them. Check all electric cords for visible damage. Cracked or frayed cords can be dangerous.
- To avoid excessive wear and cord damage, ensure that cords don’t run under rugs nor have furniture resting on them.
- Make sure electric cords are not nailed or stapled in place. Cord damage can result in a fire and shock hazard.
Kitchen and Bathrooms
- All family members should be aware that they should not touch electrical devices when they are wet, standing on wet surfaces, or in water.
- Small appliances (hair dryers, mixers, toasters, etc.) should be unplugged when not in use. Unattended, connected appliances create an unnecessary risk.
- Keep all appliance cords away from hot surfaces (toasters, range tops, ovens, etc.). Cords can be damaged by excessive heat.
- Check that all appliances and electric equipment are located away from the sink and bath. Appliances are hazardous if they come in contact with water.
- In kitchens, bathrooms, and near swimming pools, standard outlets should be replaced with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI’s). GFCI’s are devices that will provide shock protection by quickly cutting off the circuit and preventing injury. GFCI’s should be UL approved and installed by a licensed electrician (this is part of the Electric Code).
- Never insert any metal object, such as a knife or fork, into an appliance. Make sure you’re using the correct wattage and proper kind of light bulb in an overhead or ceiling fixture. The wrong type of bulb can lead to overheating and fire. If you don’t know the correct wattage, use a bulb no larger than 60 watts.
- Never leave electric heaters and hot plates unattended when in use.
- It is hazardous to use power equipment on wet hedges, grass, shrubs, and any damp areas.
- Work and garden power tools should be protected with three pronged grounding plugs, unless they are double insulated.
- Contact your town or village hall to confirm that your pool plans meet all local zoning and safety requirements.
- Check that no electric devices are so close to the swimming pool that they could accidentally fall into the water.
- All outdoor outlets should have waterproof covers. If moisture gets into outlets, a shock hazard results.
- Keep all ladders far away from electric lines.
In Case of Fire
- Keep emergency numbers for police and fire departments near your phone. Make sure that at least one smoke detector is placed on every floor of your home. Locate detectors on the ceiling away from air vents and near bedrooms. Test your detector every few months to ensure it’s working, change the batteries when you change the clocks in Spring and Fall.
- Develop an emergency exit plan for your home in case of a fire. Practice the plan to make sure everyone can escape quickly and safely.
- Keep your chimney and vent piping clean. Have them inspected regularly and cleaned by a professional when necessary.
- Don’t smoke in bed and keep ashtrays and other smoking materials away from beds and blankets.
- Store flammable liquids such as paints, solvents and gasoline away from heating sources.
- Use safety latches or combination locks to prevent children from getting into cabinets that store harmful materials.
- Check containers of volatile liquids for tightly sealed caps. If the cap isn’t tightly closed, toxic vapors may escape and be inhaled.
- Dust, dirt and paint chips can contain lead or other harmful substances. Wet mop floors, and clean furniture and windowsills to remove particles that children might eat.
- Check with your doctor about having children under the age of six tested annually for lead poisoning.
- Never use containers that once held food to store poisonous products. Even adults can make mistakes.
- Keep the Nationwide Poison Control telephone number, 1-800-222-1222, posted in your home so you can quickly call in an emergency.
- Store medicines in the containers they came in, and make sure they clearly show the contents, doctor’s instructions and expiration date.
Avoid Common Accidents
- Stairways should be well lighted. Steps, coverings and handrails should be sturdy and secure.
- Keep ladders in good shape. Check for loose rungs or frayed ropes on extension ladders. Make sure the ladder is on level ground before climbing and never stand on the top step.
- Make sure clotheslines are above head level. Keep your yard clear of garden tools and litter. Inspect outdoor play equipment and furniture to ensure that it is secure and safe.
- Don’t stand on chairs, boxes, or other makeshift items to get to hard-to-reach places. Use a sturdy stepstool that has a handrail for support.
- Equip all bathtubs and showers with nonskid mats or strips to help prevent falls. Install grab bars to assist you getting in and out of tubs or showers. Do not use towel bars as grab bars.
- Keep the garage door open if running the car engine inside. Be sure to clear snow away from tail pipes and parking lights and, always look before backing up.
- Wear eye protection such as safety goggles or shields when operating power tools. Always disconnect and leave these tools in a locked position. Store sharp knives in a special compartment, tray or utensil block, out of the reach of children.
- If there are swimming pools in your neighborhood, don’t rely on fencing to keep young children safe from drowning accidents. The only real protection is direct adult supervision.
Safety for Children and Pets
- Never use wire, tinsel or any other metal in your kite. Fishing line often contains wire and shouldn’t be used. Fly your kite or model plane in open areas, far from power lines. If your kite gets caught in a power line, leave it there and call us for help. Don’t fly a kite in bad weather.
- Take a tour of your house with your parents and have them point out potentially hazardous areas.
- Don’t climb power poles, transmission towers, or trees with wires near them. Don’t throw rocks or other objects at equipment on the poles.
- Do not touch electric meters, or other power equipment behind buildings or stores.
- Stay away from railroad tracks; wire fences, and boats that may be using electricity you don’t know about.
- Stay clear of anything that says "High Voltage."
- Keep electrical cords away from puppies and kittens; they may chew through them and receive a severe shock.
- Make sure nightlights are completely plugged into a wall outlet. A partially exposed prong could become a hazard for a curious puppy or kitten.
- Keep halogen torchiere lamps away from play areas for pets and children. Some of these bulbs can reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees. Knocked over by a playful pet, they could easily cause a fire.
- Learn more
- Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas. It is particularly dangerous because it is colorless and odorless.
- Use extreme care whenever any types of fuel (oil, coal, gas, kerosene, wood) are burned indoors.
- If fuel is burned without an adequate supply of air, carbon monoxide gas can be produced.
- Be especially sure there is proper ventilation when fireplaces, wood stoves or other air consuming devices are operated at the same time as your regular heating system.
- Never use a charcoal grill in the house.
Consider purchasing a CO detector. If you experience carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms such as tightness across the forehead, headaches, throbbing temples, dizziness, dimness of vision, nausea, vomiting, and increased pulse and respiration rates, leave the premises immediately and get medical attention.
Planning a Swimming Pool
If your proposed pool site is located near power lines, we’ll send an expert to conduct a survey to assess the safety of your location. More information regarding pool clearance can be found here.