In the classic film "The Wizard of Oz," Dorothy famously uttered the phrase, "there's no place like home." Now, several decades later, that sentiment remains very dear to people's hearts.
While homes are sanctuaries for many people, a home can be dangerous. The U.S. Home Safety Council states that every year, nearly 20,000 people die and 21 million medical visits are needed due to home accidents in the United States. The Huron County Health Unit says that the majority of injuries that occur in homes in Canada are attributed to falls. The same can be said for those living in the United States.
The elderly and children are the age groups most susceptible to home accidents. Research by the Harvard Medical School has found that accidents and the chance for fatalities increases dramatically over the age of 65. However, accidents can occur in any age group, and making safety changes around the house is a proactive step to avoid accidents. Here are some of the common injuries that occur around the home.
* Slamming fingers in doors and windows: For small children, severe injuries -- even amputations -- can result from slammed fingers in doors and windows.
* Falls: Falls, especially down the stairs, cause more trips to the emergency room than any other accident in the U.S.
* Cooking injuries: Burns and scalding from cooking top the list of injuries at home. Cuts from a knife while preparing food are also leading dangers.
* Electrocution: All it takes is a faulty outlet or a frayed cord to provide a shock, one that can prove fatal.
In some towns, cities and provinces, laws mandate a home be equipped with certain safety items. Others are smart choices to have on hand. Although not all injuries around the home can be foreseen, the majority of them are preventable. With a combination of certain safety items on hand and precautionary actions, home-related injuries can be reduced.
* Fire extinguisher: This can be kept on hand for minor fires.
* Smoke alarm: These alert to the presence of smoke, which could be indicative of a home fire.
* Carbon monoxide alarm: These alarms are a necessity to detect carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can cause death if inhaled in high amounts. Carbon monoxide alarms are frequently installed by furnaces and bedrooms.
* Adequate lighting: Since falls are so common, having lights on landings and entryways can alleviate falls due to the inability to see.
* Radon detectors: Another gas that is difficult to detect by smell or sight is radon, which may be leaching from surrounding soil into a home, particularly problematic on the lower level of a home.
* Wire organizers: Bundles of wires behind televisions and other electronics can be tripping hazards and cause shocks or electrocution if touched in an improper way. Storage devices can keep them safely tucked out of sight.
* First aid kit: A medical kit will have all of the supplies necessary to treat minor injuries.
* Grab bars: People who have mobility issues can install grab bars in hallways and bathrooms for extra support.
* Door and window guards: A number of safety devices exist for windows and doors, including foam protectors that prevent slammed fingers or hands.
* Fire escapes: Those who live in multi-level homes can invest in retractable ladders that attach to windows and provide an emergency point of exit.
Accidents around the home are prevalent but often preventable.