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A Resolution for All: Household Safety for a Hazard-Free Year

Posted on Wednesday, January 8th, 2020 at 10:08 am by Williams Hart    

Another year has come to an end, and another has just begun. With that, millions of Americans find themselves entering the new year with a refreshed vision of what the future holds in store for them. The occurrence of a passing year gives us an opportunity to reflect and evaluate a pledge for self-improvement. 

New Year’s resolutions are a time-honored tradition around the world. Recent research indicates that as many as 45-percent of Americans say they usually make New Year’s resolutions, while only 8-percent are successful in achieving their goals. Regardless of whether they’ve followed through on previous resolutions, most people will continue repeating this tradition – after all, we’ve had 4,000 years of practice. 

Common new year’s resolutions include: lose weight, eat healthier, save money, learn a new skill, travel more, etc. While these are perfectly attainable accomplishments, you might find it increasingly difficult, or downright impossible, to stay committed when the unexpected happens. A sudden injury can derail you from the course of self improvement in an instant. 

These things are not always in your control. In fact, you may feel like nothing is in your control if you’ve been seriously injured – and that is an understandable perspective. However, what you objectively do have control of is staying informed, educated, and prepared for the unexpected so that you can safely stick to the goals you’ve set for yourself. And if there is one place you should always feel safe, it’s your home.

Refuge. Safety. Security. These are all essential parts of our physical and mental well-being, and what we hope for when we come home at the end of a long day. Home is where so much of our self-improvement begins. Unfortunately, many people do not recognize how quickly common household hazards can rob them of their progress. Exercising regularly and saving money pivot on the risk of an unexpected illness or injury.

So, if you’ve made yourself a resolution (good job!), you may be wondering what you can do to protect yourself from falling off the wagon. Preventing any household hazards that might leave you or a loved one with a serious injury could be the key to ensuring you reach your goals. 

Common Household Safety Hazards

While there are countless hazards that exist in your home, years of research has repeatedly named the top five leading causes of an injury at home as falls, poisoning, fires & burns, drowning, and choking & suffocation. Contrary to what you may believe, prevention of these dangerous scenarios are not always obvious.

  1. Falls. Falls account for over 40% of all non-fatal injuries that occur at home. Fall hazards can look like wet floors, slippery outdoor walkways, unsecured cabinets and drawers, bunk beds, rambunctious pets, and lack of: sufficient lighting and handrails in staircases, attics, and basements; safety gates, non slip mats for bathrooms and play equipment, and sturdy step stools or ladders.
  2. Poisoning. In 2014, more than 2 million poisoning incidents were reported to poison control centers nationwide. Poisoning hazards can look like unsecured household cleaning supplies or pesticides/herbicides, medicines and vitamins left within reach of children, loose batteries, old drink bottles or food containers used to store toxic chemicals, lack of or a faulty carbon monoxide detector, lead-based paint, or a gas stove that has been left on.
  3. Fires & Burns. More than 365,000 fires blazed US homes in 2015, causing smoke damage, completely destroyed homes, and deaths. Fire hazards can look like unattended burning candles, curling or clothes irons, and stoves (cooking mishaps are the number one cause of house fires!), clogged chimneys and dryer vents, crowded space heaters, high water heater temperature, and lack of working fire alarms/smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
  4. Drowning. In the past decade, deaths from drowning in a bathtub have gone up 70%. Drowning hazards can look like unmaintained pool drain covers, uncovered hot tubs, unattended children in bathtubs and kiddie pools, and lack of or unlocked pool gates. Four sided fencing with a self closing and self latching gate around the pool is the only proven solution to prevent children from wandering unattended into the pool. 
  5. Choking & Suffocation. Choking is the USA’s fourth largest cause of accidental death. There were nearly 5,000 victims in 2014. Choking and suffocation hazards can affect anyone, however children are at highest risk at home. Loose plastic bags, inappropriately sized food, small toys, marbles, jewelry, or other items that may end up on the ground and in a child’s reach, overly soft crib items, defective cribs, and lack of child-resistant locks on air tight spaces, such as fridges, all pose a threat of choking and suffocation.

Here’s How to Stay on Track 

Like any other resolution you might make for the new year, committing to home safety may not be as simple as you may think. While all of the dangerous scenarios above have undoubtedly fallen under our consideration in the past, how well do we really keep track of it? Weight loss does not have an auto-pilot function, and neither does this.

 

  • Be Specific. Setting a goal is a good start, but being too general can leave you feeling confused or overwhelmed. Limit your goals to a manageable amount that is appropriate to your home’s size and number of floors. Most importantly, discuss your plans with any children, elderly, or dependents in the house! 

 

 

  • Write It Down. Draw a map of your home that includes any pools, gardening sheds, staircases, smoke detectors, chemical storage, large appliances, bathtubs, chimneys, dryer vents, water heaters, and fire extinguishers. This can help you better visualize existing hazards and prevent further ones from occurring, and can also be helpful for insurance purposes should any of those scenarios do happen. Make a checklist or visit one of the following links to keep an inventory of safety measures. 

 

http://www.homesafetysmartcheck.com/home-safety-checklists_5143_ct.aspx

https://assets.aarp.org/external_sites/caregiving/checklists/checklist_homeSafety.html

 

  • Check In Regularly. Setting and visualizing a goal are only the first two steps to committing to your resolution. It’s essential to regularly revisit your plans in order to guarantee you follow through. Routinely schedule a checklist rundown and property evaluation in case anything changes, such as rearranging furniture, replacing appliances, or landscaping projects. 

 

Additional Resources

For more information regarding home safety and hazard prevention, visit the links below. 

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