Homes are supposed to serve as sanctuaries, but safety hazards may be lurking in many homes. Thousands upon thousands of people fall victim to unintentional injuries each year because of simple safety mistakes made around the house. According to the security company A Secure Life, unintentional injuries result in an average of 21 million medical visits each year in the United States.
Many people may not realize that some of the more common home injuries can be prevented. The National Safety Council encourages everyone to be aware of home hazards and to take proper safety precautions. Here are some of the more common causes of unintentional injury and death at home and how to prevent members of your household from falling victim to them.
Many substances found in typical households contribute to poisonings each year. In recent years, prescription drug overdose has become one of the leading causes of unintentional poisonings. Prescription opioids and heroin killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. Safer, more effective alternatives to pain management may reduce the number of deaths linked to opioids.
All medications should be kept out of the reach of children. Medications should be kept in original packaging and taken only for prescribed reasons, and prescription drugs should never be shared.
Falling is a concern at any age, but it is the No. 1 cause of death for individuals ages 71 and older, according to the NSC. Hazardous conditions at home, and not necessarily age, contribute to many instances of falling at home. Removing clutter, rearranging furniture to facilitate movement around the house, improving lighting and visibility, and installing grab bars in high-traffic areas are just some ways to reduce the likelihood of falling inside a home.
The CDC reports that, between 2005 and 2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal unintentional drownings (non-boating related) each year in the United States. That equates to about 10 deaths per day. Drowning remains a major concern for children age 14 and under. Summer swimming and boating-related activities can increase the risk of drowning as well.
Instances of drowning can be prevented by providing barriers between homes and pools. Children should never be left unsupervised in the bath or near bodies of water. Adults should avoid alcohol when swimming or boating.
Homeowners who are aware of common home hazards and take steps to reduce such hazards can dramatically lower the risk of accidents at their homes.