Keeping our home safe, especially if there are kids and pets around, is most people’s first priority. However, there are plenty of common, everyday habits and household items that are a much bigger hazard than you might think. Apparently, things you can find in almost any home like mirrors and exercise equipment cause a great number of injuries every year.
To help you become aware of these everyday hazards and prevent unnecessary accidents, we put together a list of the most common dangers that could creep up on you in everyday life.
Yes, clutter is a nuisance, but when left to pile on for too long, it can become a real hazard. Both kids and adults could easily trip over items that were left “temporarily” in random spots around the house. It's especially dangerous to leave things like shoes or toys on the stairs. Keeping the staircase clutter-free may seem obvious, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all falling deaths occur on steps and stairways.
Leaving something on or by the stairs, with a plan to take it up or down on the next trip, is a common and very dangerous habit. To prevent potentially fatal accidents, make sure all the staircases in your home are always clutter-free.
If you have small children or have the grandkids visit you often, making the upper floor windows child-safe is essential. As many as 15,000 children in the US are injured every year as a result of falling from windows. In rooms on the upper floor, make sure to install window guards to prevent the windows from opening more than a few inches (it’s recommended to choose ones with quick-release mechanisms, in case of a fire). Additionally, keep furniture away from the windows, to prevent the kids from climbing near them.
The slippery shower is a danger-zone for everyone. Injuries around the tub or shower are actually more common in adults rather than children, according to the CDC. To make your shower less hazardous there are two steps you can take: use a slip-proof bath mat and install a wall-mounted soap and shampoo dispenser. That way, all your shower products are easily reachable and there is no need to look around for them or reaching down for dropped soap.
Installing these dispensers shouldn’t be a trying task at all, some models come with adhesive strips or silicone glue.
Antique appliances may look beautiful and add a stylish touch to your home, but their old wiring can definitely pose a safety risk. Especially when it comes to vintage light fixtures, it's imperative that you know exactly how old the wiring is and whether it’s been replaced when you purchase them. Additionally, ask whether the wiring is European or from the United States. The older it is, the brittle the wires become, and the bigger the chance they fuel a fire.
A quick way to find out if the wiring is safe is to look for a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) label on the item.
When you think of potential fire starters in your home the first things that come to mind are probably stray papers, candles, and gas stoves. However, you may be surprised to learn that mirrors can be quite a fire hazard too. How does this happen? Well, mirrors can reflect the sun, concentrating it in a particular spot. This then causes nearby items like curtains, clothing, or furniture to catch fire. Magnifying makeup mirrors are particularly dangerous. Keep your mirrors away from windows and out of direct sunlight if possible. To learn about other potential fire hazards check out our previous article 12 Amazing Home Fire Safety Tips From Firefighters.
Anyone can trip and fall over a thick carpet laid over a thick pad, but they are especially dangerous to those who are unstable when walking. Thick carpets also make it much more difficult to push and maneuver wheelchairs and walkers. If you consider adding a carpet, a “level loop” or “cut pile” carpet with a pile height of no more than 1/2 in. and a 1/4-in pad would be the safest choice.
A television that sits on a console or a desk without being attached to the wall in some way could easily tip over and cause injury. If there are children under 10 who live or often visit your household, do not underestimate this risk. A 65-inch flat-screen weighs around 70 pounds (30 kg). According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, TV tip-overs cause the most injuries for children 10 years old and younger.
To be safe, mount the TV with bolts into the studs of the wall or secure it with “anti-tipping” straps.
Exercise equipment like treadmills or stationary bikes can be unexpected household hazards. The power chords attached to these machines can cause tipping and electrical burns, and for small children, they can be a strangulation danger as well.
We are not saying that you should let go of your home workout routine, but do try keeping children out of the room where exercise equipment is stored and make sure to unplug the machine and keep the cords neatly tucked away, to prevent accidents.
House plants have many benefits - they add color and vibrancy to any room and they are natural air purifiers. However, certain varieties of lilies, ivies, and other common houseplants can be harmful to pets, humans, or both. When acquiring new plants, especially if you're new to the world of house plants, double-check which ones have the potential to be dangerous and keep them out of reach for pets and kids. To find out more about houseplants and looking after them take a look at our previous article The Houseplant Cheat Sheet.
If you keep batteries of any variety in your home, make sure to have a designated place for them instead of just leaving them lying around. Nine-volt batteries can be a real fire hazard when out of the package because their connection points are so close together. If they come in touch with metal items like paper clips or steel wool, the battery can heat up and catch fire. Tiny button batteries, on the other hand, can be a choking hazard for small kids and pets.
To stay safe, cover the connection of nine-volt batteries with electrical or duct tape, and keep all batteries in a drawer or a box.
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