Believe it or not, homes in the UK are amongst the most dangerous places to be. Statistically, you’re more likely to get injured in your own house than at work, so it’s important to take domestic health and safety seriously.
Keeping your home clean and tidy at all times is a great way to minimise the risk of accidents. But it always pays to be aware of the hazards in your home that could lead to nasty injuries. You may not be able to prevent these common accidents, but you’ll be able to reduce the chances of them happening.
1. Slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips and falls are the most common accidents in the home. It’s therefore important to remove any hazards from floors, such as trailing wires, defective flooring and unnecessary clutter. Never place items on or around stairs and steps, and make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to decluttering.
There are countless items in the average home that can cause a nasty burn. The obvious hazards include pans, kettles, ovens and cooking ranges. If you have small children in the home, you might need to make subtle changes to the way you use these items. For example, if you’re cooking, use the cooking rings furthest away from the edge of the counter. With items such as kettles, make sure the wires are well out of reach of little hands.
Other hazards to take special care with include hair straighteners, matches and radiators. Keep these items out of reach, or in the case of radiators, install covers. If you have fires, they should be covered with a surround, and shouldn’t be left on when an adult isn’t in attendance. Scalds from bathroom taps are a particularly common type of home-based injury amongst children, so take steps to prevent access to them.
Glass and other sharp objects can cause some very serious cuts, so remaining vigilant at all times is essential. If you smash a glass, cordon off the area, and sweep up immediately. It’s also a good idea to use a powerful vacuum cleaner to suck up any tiny fragments of glass that are invisible to the naked eye. If you have children in the home, keep glass items well out of reach.
Again, this is an accident that usually affects children. Babies and toddlers explore with their mouths, and almost every strange object they come across will go straight into their mouth unless there’s an adult in attendance to avert disaster. Lock away small objects that might be swallowed, including pen tops and small toys.
There could be several substances in your home with the potential to cause poisoning, but most of them will be cleaning materials. If you have young children in your home, designate a hidden area for polishes, sprays, bleach and other agents — and make sure it’s kept locked at all times.
Other things that can cause poisoning include medications and cosmetics, so make sure they’re stored away properly in their original containers.
Sadly, it is young children who are particularly at risk of drowning in the home. Unattended baths is a major cause, as well as badly designed garden ponds. A child can drown in just an inch of water, so standing water should be either supervised at all times or made safe through restricted access.
7. Falling objects
While young children are particularly susceptible to injury from falling objects, adults aren’t completely safe. Storing items at height is often unavoidable, but you can reduce the chances of these items from falling onto people by packing them away in an orderly fashion. Never overfill shelves and cupboards, and always keep large or heavy items in your floor-level storage areas. If you have little ones in the home, you’ll need to be constantly vigilant when it comes to items on tables, windowsills and worktops.
Wherever possible, never store any items higher than average shoulder height. Never access items stored at height unless you can safely handle them, and use steps or ladders where necessary.
You will never be able to remove all the potential hazards from your home. However, by being organised and vigilant, you can reduce the risk of accidents considerably.