12 Most Common
Under Your Roof
Accidents in the Home: What Are the Odds?
Your home is your safe place.
It’s hard to imagine that an accident could happen within the four walls of your home, the place where you eat, sleep, and spend time with family. But according to the CDC, accidents happen all the time.
To the tune of
emergency room visits for unintentional injuries per year.
These statistics certainly aren’t comforting, but there is more to the story. As the saying goes, knowledge is power. Within this article, we’ll discuss the top dangers lurking in your home and what you can do to minimize accident risk.
There’s another saying that is helpful in times like these:
Expect the best and prepare for the worst.
The truth is that more accidents occur at home than anywhere else.
Your home is where you spend the majority of your time, besides work or school. Young children under the age of five and elderly adults over age 65, especially over 75, are most likely to have an accident at home.
Falls are the leading cause of unintentional home injury death, resulting in roughly 6,000 fatalities per year. Falls in the home can be especially dangerous because they are sudden; falls at home can often be fatal since you are more likely to be alone.
-The National Safety Council
Statistically, accidents in the home most commonly happen in the living area. Accidents among children are more likely to affect boys than girls. Household falls are just one danger among many—an estimated 18,000 Americans die each year from injuries sustained in the home. The odds of dying from a fall at home involving furniture are one in 4,238.
What can be done to stop such senseless accidents?
Prevention is key. Taking basic precautions at home can help to reduce your risk of injury and make your home a safe place. Safety measures are even more important if you have children or pets.
If you haven’t safety-proofed your home yet, there’s no time like the present. Basic home safety precautions could save a life, or at the very least, save you an expensive hospital visit.
12 Most Common
Dangers in Your Home
A happy home is a healthy home. A healthy home is free from unnecessary hazards and toxins that could pose a danger to you and your family. Common household hazards are easy to overlook and may come with short-term to long-term risks.
You might have one of these 12 threats under your roof:
400 Americans die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning each year, with over 20,000 emergency room visits.
Within your home, carbon monoxide is truly the silent killer. Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. It can cause death or serious injury if too much gas is inhaled, called carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carbon monoxide detectors are recommended on each floor of a house. If you experience sudden, severe headaches, dizziness, mental confusion, nausea, or fainting spells at home, seek help right away. Get fresh air and visit an emergency room to determine if poisoning has occurred. These symptoms are often confused with the flu and can be deadly if a leak is not fixed.
Causes & Symptoms of Carbon monoxide poisoning in your home
- Car left running in garage
- Blocked chimney/gas fires
- Corroded water heater pipes
- Gas or wood fires
- Cracked or leaking boiler
- Badly installed kitchen unit
- Operating a grill indoors or garage
- Kerosine or gas heater
Concentration of Co & symptoms
Headache and dizziness within six to eight hours of constant exposure
Slight headache in two to three hours
Slight headache in two to three hours; loss of judgement
Frontal headache within one to two hours
Dizziness, nausea, and convulsions within 45 min; insensible within 2 hours
Headache, tachycardia, dizziness, and nausea within 20 min; death in less than 2 hours
Headache, dizziness, and nausea in five to ten minutes; death within 30 minutes
Headache and dizziness in one to two minutes. Convulsions, respiratory arrest, and death in less than 20 minutes
Unconsciousness after 2-3 breaths. Death in less than three minutes
Stair accidents are responsible for over 1 million emergency room visits a year.
As we’ve already discussed, falls are the leading cause of accidental death at home. Six out of 10 falls happen at home, and seniors are especially vulnerable to this hidden danger.
Dr. Ryan Stanton, American College of Emergency Physicians spokesman and University of Kentucky Good Samaritan Hospital Emergency Room medical director, confirms that stairs are the greatest household threat, especially to the elderly and small children. He states, “The usual injuries are bone injuries, fractures and head injuries.”
“Fall-proofing” your home is worthwhile for people of all ages. Improve dim lighting; install grab bars and handrails where needed; clean up clutter and eliminate throw rugs; remove obstacles from pathways, hallways, and stairs; let wet floors dry fully and clean up spills immediately.
The US Fire Administration confirms that there are 28,600 electrical fires each year.
Faulty or frayed wiring should always be taken seriously. Bad wiring can short and start a house fire in seconds. Watch out for warning signs, like flickering lights, blown fuses, and a quick tingle of shock when you touch an appliance or light switch.
Here’s a simple solution: Replace any appliances or electronics with worn, frayed cords. Update older circuit breakers with arc-fault circuit interrupters that shut down electricity in an emergency. Consult an electrician to replace household wiring that is more than 40 years old.
The fire department responds to a house fire every 66 seconds in the US.
Fires are most likely to start in the kitchen, followed by the living room, bedroom, and storage areas. Common causes include unattended cooking, overloaded electrical wires, cigarettes, fireplace sparks, and old appliances. A full home inspection is recommended to manage fire hazards; test smoke alarms regularly and change batteries yearly.
Smoke Alarm Placement
- Smoke Alarm
- Carbon Monoxide Alarm
- Fire Extinguisher
Gas burners should never be used as a source of heat; this can increase risk of toxin exposure and the likelihood of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Gas burners can be a source of carbon monoxide poisoning, and they may also contribute to indoor air pollution.
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory researchers discovered that
of California households use gas burners without vent range hoods in the winter.
This practice can result in poor indoor air quality, excess toxin exposure, and ultimately, breathing problems.
According to the EPA, up to 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 or more gallons of water per day.
Black mold is a toxigenic mold that can cause serious health problems when left untreated. Black mold can grow for months or years without detection in the walls of homes and in damp spaces, like basements. Black mold growth is most likely to occur after water damage or due to an undetected leak.
Common symptoms may include mental and neurological disturbances, respiratory problems, skin irritation and allergies, visual disturbances, weakened immune system, and fatigue. Professional black mold remediation is recommended.
One female mouse may produce up to 10 litters a year.
Pests in a home are not only unpleasant—they have been linked to serious health issues, especially among children.
Mice, rats, and accompanying fleas are capable of transmitting a number of diseases. Mice can trigger asthma in adults and children; rodent infestation can also transmit food-borne bacterial illness.
The EPA confirms that up to 75% of US households own and use at least one pesticide.
Pesticides should always be kept in a safe, locked location and used sparingly in a home. When necessary, pesticides should preferably be used by a professional and in a well-ventilated area. Pesticides were one of the most common poison exposure risks to young children and adults in 2013, according to the National Capital Poison Center.
most common poison exposures for young children and adults
national capital poison center, 2013
Children < 6 years(16.655 exposures)
- Cosmetics/personal care products 2,541
- Cleaners 1,758
- Pain medications 1,495
- Foreign bodies 1,359
- Topical medicines 963
- Vitamins 808
- Batteries 672
- Plants and mushrooms 537
- Antimicrobials 509
- Arts/crafts/office supplies 447
- Gastrointestinal preparations393
Childhood poisoning deaths have more than doubled since 1999.
Poisoning is a major household danger, especially among pets and children. 838 children ages 19 and under died from poisoning in 2011.
of these deaths were caused by drug poisoning
of the children who died from poisoning were male.
One in six people in the US will get sick from eating contaminated food each year.
Salmonella is a common household bacterial illness that can spread when handling or eating contaminated raw foods, including poultry, eggs, beef, fruits, and vegetables.
The effects of salmonella poisoning can cause digestive disturbances in minor cases; in severe cases, salmonella contamination can lead to death by dehydration.
Indoor radon exposure kills more people each year than drunk driving—resulting in 21,000 lung cancer related deaths.
Radon gas is a natural radiation emitted by the earth that can compromise indoor air quality when trapped in a home. Radon gas is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium found in rocks and soil.
When trapped indoors, radon exposure is confirmed as the second-leading cause of lung cancer for smokers and the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers. A home radon test is recommended to detect dangerous exposure levels.
Tipping furniture and appliances resulted in 349 deaths between 2000 and 2011.
To prevent a tip-over accident or death at home, large appliances and furniture should be anchored, such as bookshelves, entertainment centers, and TVs. This risk is especially dangerous to young children who are prone to climbing.
Flat screen TVs should be mounted per manufacturer recommendation; TVs should be placed as far back in an entertainment center as possible; large furniture should be attached to walls with L-brackets, safety straps, and other attachment devices.
5 Most Common
Household Dangers for Kids
All of the above dangers apply to kids, but some household hazards can be even more harmful to children:
- The US Consumer Product Safety Commission considers bathtubs to be the most dangerous hazard for kids in a house. After pools, bathtubs are the second location where young children are most likely to drown. Always drain bathtubs and never leave a child unattended.
- Falls are still considered the top source of injury to young children—from windows, furniture, or stairs. Check your house for potential falling hazards; always use baby gates at the top of stairs.
- Young children are likely to put anything and everything in their mouth. Accidental poisoning is a prime concern among young children. Keep cleaning products out of reach and in a locked cabinet, if possible.
- Curious toddlers are likely to pull at items out of their reach. What’s more, kids may be stronger and faster than parents realize. Always keep cooking pots on the back burners of the stove and teach young children never to touch hot appliances.
- Choking is a major danger among infants and young children who are, again, likely to put objects in their mouth. Keep small items away from children and watch for suffocation and strangulation hazards, like hanging cords from window blinds.
Injury Rates among Children Ages 1-4
5 Must Read
for every pet owner
In a best-case scenario, your pet could become sick after eating the wrong food or digging in the trash. At the worst, a beloved pet could die after ingesting commercial insecticides or rodent poison. The American Humane Society confirms that beyond the obvious toxins, there are a number of household items that can prove lethal to pets.
Here are 5 must-read pet-proofing tips for every pet owner
As a pet owner, you may not think twice about the plants you have potted around the house. However, the AHA urges pet owners to research all indoor plants as many are poisonous to pets; specifically, plants in the hibiscus family can cause cardiac shock, irregular heartbeat, renal failure, and even death in animals.
It’s a well-known wives’ tale that cats are attracted to antifreeze. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol that has a sweet taste. Even when consumed in small amounts, antifreeze can be deadly to pets. It only takes one teaspoon to kill a 7 pound cat.
When dealing with mice in a home with pets, glue traps and live traps are recommended. It’s also important to discourage dogs and cats from eating outside rodents that may have been killed with poison; secondary poisoning can be deadly.
Medicinal pills, creams, and liquids should be kept in a locked medicine cabinet at all times, especially harsher drugs like painkillers. Animals can chew through packaging and ingest potentially lethal human medication.
If you’re looking for one good reason to wean your pet off table food, consider that many human foods are toxic to animals. The Pet Poison Helpline cites chocolate, sugar-free gum and candy, and grapes as the most toxic foods for dogs.
Vital Issues Never make a pet vomit at home without at least ringing and consulting with a vet clinic first.
At home vomiting can sometimes be unsafe for your pet. Also, a vet will be able to confirm that you are using the right emetic drug and dose.
- “Prevent Falls In and Outside of Your Home.” Safety at Home: Falls.
- Cox, Lauren. “5 Experts Answer: What Are the Most Dangerous Items in a Home?” LiveScience.
- “Home Gas Ranges Produce Toxic Gases, Lawrence Berkeley Lab Study Says.” San Jose Mercury News.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). National Center for Injury Prevention and Control Website. Unintentional poisoning fatalities and injuries, children ages 19 and under.
- “Radon: A Danger in Your Home.” The Dr. Oz Show.
- “Pets & Poisons.” americanhumane.org.
- “Common Household Dangers for Pets: The Humane Society of the United States.”humanesociety.org.