We live in an unparalleled age of safety and comfort, but that also means we can sometimes overlook the more mundane dangers that still exist in our homes. Though they rarely grab headlines, threats such as fire, carbon monoxide leaks and falls leave thousands injured – or worse – every year. Thankfully, many of these dangers can be drastically reduced with some simple precautions, habits or products. Here are four such tips to make your home safer.
1. Alarm yourself. Though sometimes taken for granted in the modern home, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms play a crucial safety role. Fire can spread shockingly fast, and carbon monoxide kills invisibly and without odor, meaning alarms are an indispensable line of defense. Functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be on every floor of your home. Detectors with both photoelectric and ionization sensors will provide the greatest warning for smoldering and fast-flaming fires alike. Hundreds die a year in situations where smoke detectors are present but not functioning, so test smoke (and carbon monoxide) detectors at least once a month. Vacuuming devices occasionally to prevent dust buildup is also advisable.
2. Don’t get tripped up. It hardly grabs headlines, but some 10,000 people die each year as a result of falls at home, with many more being injured. To reduce the chance of these kinds of accidents, begin by arranging furniture out of the way of your typical routes around the home. For example, no obstructions should be between your bed and the bedroom door. Place electrical cords, pet bowls and other smaller hazards against walls rather than in walkways. Consider doing away with throw rugs, which can slide or bunch up, or immobilize them with carpet tacks or two-sided carpet tape. Put a rubber mat or nonslip strips in your bathtub and install grab bars if necessary. Keeping your home clean and decluttered is also important. If mobility is or is becoming an issue for someone in your home, a single-level home with few or no steps should be a consideration.
3. Keep a (digital) eye on the place. Who best to keep watch on your place than the person who cares most about it? Once the sole purview of professional security companies, do-it-yourself monitoring systems are now easy and affordable thanks to digital technology and the Internet. With one or more Wi-Fi security cameras installed, you can check up on your home from your smartphone or laptop, checking in on pets, weather effects or other home welfare. Other smart home elements can let you control your thermostat, lights or other appliances from afar for even more security.
4. Don’t get burned. Hundreds of thousands are treated for burn injuries in the US every year, and many of them are children. Consider turning down the maximum temperature of your water heater to the minimum level recommended by your heater’s manual, but don’t risk turning it down too low and chance allowing bacteria to proliferate. Keep an eye on children when cooking, and consider installing safety covers for appliance knobs to prevent them from turning on hot surfaces. Practice good fire safety, including educating all members of the household on how to prevent, recognize and escape fire – especially important for young children.
Follow these steps, and you can be satisfied knowing you’ve made your home a safer place.