Thursday, August 19, 2010

Home Safety

Home Can Be A Dangerous Place

Every week, I see homeowners insurance claims that could have been prevented. Here are some risks to consider, along with some steps to take, to reduce your risk.

1. Watch that tub.

Falling is the leading cause of home injury deaths. Surprisingly, nearly 6,000 lives per year are lost in simple falls. The bathtub is the leading culprit. Some install grab bars on the walls, or grip strips in their tub to reduce risk. Given the hard surfaces hit when one falls in the tub, any steps to make it safer are welcome.

2. Check the medicine cabinet.

The second-leading cause of accidental home injury deaths is accidental poisoning. Almost 5,000 lives are lost each year. One might expect this to be mostly children drinking a poison from under the sink, which certainly happens. However, it is often a mixing of alcohol and prescription drugs. Sometimes it is as simple as a husband sleepily taking his wife pills rather than his own in the middle of the night. Steps can be taken to make these medicines very different from one another in packaging.

3. Watch that stove.

Home fires and burn injuries kill over 3,000 people annually, and thus are the third-leading cause of accidental home injury deaths. Do your smoke alarms work? Change batteries when you change daylight saving times. Train your children in actual fire drills how to get out and to never reenter during a fire. Some families hold actual fire drills twice a year. Never put water on a grease fire, and make sure everyone knows that. In a new home, check the price of having fire sprinklers installed. (Unlike television and the movies, only the sprinkler that is getting hot actually sprays water). Finally, watch those bonfires and lighters. Kids love to spray lighter fluid like Dad does.

4. Choking hazards like your blinds.

Choking, suffocation and strangulation, claims about 1,000 lives a year. It is the fourth-leading cause of accidental home injury deaths. Younger children are most at risk. You might see choking hazard warnings on toys these days as recognition of this serious threat. Empty out the crib when you put a baby down, and cut the cords to your blinds. Smaller toys, Legos, coins, marbles and candy can choke any child. If choking, they cannot scream to tell you.

5. 5. Watch that water:

Over 800 people die each year in drowning accidents. The depth of the water is less important than supervision. Kids drown every year in bathtubs, let alone pools and ponds. Local codes require a fence at least 4 feet high with a self-closing and self-latching gate around their pool. Teach children to swim early on. If you wish, get your family trained in CPR to help with emergencies.

6. Beware of dogs.

Almost 800,000 bites per year -- one out of every 6 -- are serious enough to require medical attention. Dog bites send nearly 368,000 victims to hospital emergency departments per year (1,008 per day). Every year 2,851 letter carriers are bitten. Getting bitten by a dog is the fifth most frequent cause of visits to emergency rooms caused by activities common among children.

Homeowners claims and, more importantly, injuries and deaths, can be reduced with these simple steps.