You usually think of your home as a safe place, but you might not realize how many hidden hazards exist.
Home hazards can result in falls, shocks and other preventable injuries. All it takes is a thorough hazard assessment of your home to help prevent many home injuries.
Conducting an assessment isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Once you learn what to look for, it’s easy to do a complete walk through at least a few times a year or even monthly.
Clear And Secure Floors
Something as simple as a rug with a curled up edge is enough to pose a risk to you, your children, aging parents or visitors to your home. The first area to check during your hazard assessment is your flooring. Considering that falls accounted for 2.5 million emergency room visits in 2013, it’s vital to keep flooring safe and clear throughout your home.
The top things you should check are:
- Loose or rolled up rugs and carpeting
- Cords laying across walkways
- Slippery areas at entrances and near water sources withing your home
- Clutter scattered in walkways
- Weak floorboards
If any of these hazards exist, schedule time to take care of them. For instance, you could put down skid proof mats at entrances and around your bathtub. You could use rug/carpet tape to secure the edges of rugs to keep them in place.
All stairs, both inside and outside your home, pose a threat if they’re not properly maintained. Check all steps during your hazard assessment for the following issues:
- Poor lighting
- Slippery steps
- Missing, broken or loose handrails
- Tiny steps
All stairs should have a solid handrail to reduce the risk of falling. You should also ensure no steps are slick. Consider adding non-slip strips to your stairs to make them safer.
The inside of your home isn’t the only hazard area. Your outer entrances could also result in injury. For instance, if a step leading up to your backdoor is loose, it could break at any time, resulting in a broken leg. Check all of your entrances for the following problems:
- Poor lighting
- Cluttered walkways leading to the door
- Loose, broken or non-existent handrails for steps
- Cracked pavement
- Non-handicap accessible
The final hazard doesn’t apply to everyone, but it’s a good idea to add a wheelchair ramp in the event you or a family member ever needs it. This is especially true as you get older or if you’re taking care of an aging loved one. A ramp is easier to manage than stairs.
Assess Every Room
Your home hazard assessment should cover every room inside your home. For most rooms, the hazard checklist is the same, but clearing one room doesn’t mean that you’ve covered all the hazards in other rooms. As you go through each room, check for the following:
- Unsecured electrical cords
- Excess clutter that makes it difficult to maneuver
- Damaged or unstable furniture that could break when sitting or leaning on
- Missing or non-functional smoke detectors (at least one or two rooms should have a carbon monoxide detector as well)
- Unsafe flooring (see Flooring checklist above)
If you have children, you should also ensure cabinets and outlets are child-proofed. You should use a child gate to prevent children from going into rooms that might be dangerous for them, such as kitchens.
If you have an aging loved one, check that all furniture is easy for them to get in and out of. This means having higher chairs and beds or providing a device to that helps them to get up and down.
Secure Bathrooms And Kitchens
Bathrooms and kitchens present their own set of unique hazards. For instance, a bathtub or shower is usually slippery without non-slip mats or stickers. When checking these two rooms, look for the following hazards:
- Lack of non-slip rugs, mats or stickers around water sources
- No handrails within showers or tubs
- Frayed cables on appliances (mainly in kitchens)
- Hard to reach cabinets
- No room to maneuver
- Wobbly step stools
Something as simple as standing on a step stool in your kitchen could pose a major risk to you if the stool’s not solid or the rug it’s on slides easily. Ideally, your cabinets should be easy to reach without a stool to reduce your falling risk.
A thorough hazard assessment of your home should take you most of a day, but you can easily divide it out to check a few rooms daily. While you can’t prevent every possible hazard in your home, every hazard you do fix means less chance of injury at home. This means a safer place for you and your family.
Want to learn more about common safety hazards and how to talk to your loved ones about them? Let Safety Education Alliance’s educational materials help.
*image courtesy of Parker Knight