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Danger Points - Room By Room

Baking

Home Safety Solutions

Where you live is the most dangerous place on earth! More accidents occur at home than anywhere else. Each year in the USA, more than 156,000 people are killed in accidents at home. Less than 46,000 die as a result of road traffic accidents. An additional 20–50 million suffer non-fatal injuries, often resulting in long-term disabilities. Accidents mostly happen in the evenings and weekends, when most people are at home. There are 40% more accidents in the summer than in the winter, and the majority of these additional accidents happen either in the garden or in the garage. Almost half of all home accidents occur in the kitchen, the living rooms, and the garden.

The following checklist will help you identify potential hazards to watch out for, which will significantly lower the likelihood of mishaps turning into tragedies for you and your family. This is particularly important to keep in mind if there are children or elderly people living in the home. Don't forget to install smoke detectors, which will notify you of a fire before it gets out of hand, making it simpler for you to battle the fire or get out of the building safely.

Kitchen

Bathroom

Living Rooms

Bedrooms

Loft Space

Stairs & Landings

Garden

Kitchen

Of all accidents in homes, one in ten occur in the kitchen.

  • All shelving should be within easy reach. If not, use a stepladder to reach them. 

  • Any dangerous liquids, bleach, disinfectant, and the like, should be stored, preferably in a lockable cupboard, out of the reach of any children. Certainly not in food containers or anywhere near food.

  • Keep knives, which are so tempting for children, out of their reach.

  • When cooking, pan handles should be pointing away from the edge of a stove or work surface. Children or even yourself could easily tip it towards you.

  • Never leave deep fat fryers or chip pans unattended, and only fill oil to the manufacturer's recommended level. Never more than a third full.

  • Deep-fat fryers can catch fire! When in use, ensure you have something to hand that will extinguish it, such as the lid, fire blanket, or damp towel. Consider purchasing an air fryer next time, or buy oven chips.

  • Pressure cookers can be dangerous if the manufacturer's instructions are not adhered to. Check the water level to make sure it doesn't boil dry.

  • Mop up any grease that spills on the floor straight away.

  • Never use thin or wet material as an oven cloth.

  • If using gas, make sure all the burners are alight before closing the oven door.

  • If your gas oven has been turned down low, close the door slowly so the air pressure doesn't blow out the flame.

  • Ensure there is nothing hanging above the gas burners, such as cloths or plastic bags.

  • Do not turn gas burners up too high to allow flames to overlap the side of pans. You're not only wasting heat, but their handles may become hot to the touch, or even melt.

  • Don't allow children to play with plastic bags. If they pull them over their heads, they could suffocate. Make sure all wall mounted cupboard or appliance doors are closed. Sharp corners are painful, and at eye level, can be particularly dangerous.

  • If possible, lock all likely hiding places for children, such as broom cupboards or freezers. They could become trapped inside.

Bathroom

Approximately 2% of accidents in UK homes happen in the bathroom, the principal cause being falling in the bath.

  • If the platform of your bath or shower is smooth, use a bath mat that grips with suction cups.

  • Fix a safety grab bar, grab handle, or bathroom safety bar at a convenient height. This is a boon for the elderly or anyone who feels nervous when exiting the bath.

  • Your shower should have a thermostat fitted to prevent scalding. Some shower heads even have  built in thermostats.

  • Bathroom lights, heaters, and any electrical appliance, must be controlled, either by switches outside the bathroom, or by cord operated ceiling switches in order that it is impossible to be in contact with water and electricity at the same time. This regulation does not apply to electric shavers which have an isolation transformer in the socket.

  • Do not use any wired electrical appliance in the bathroom, such as a radio. Steam may condense inside, causing a circuit which may give you a severe shock. Battery operated appliances are however quite safe.

  • Use anti-slip mats in the bathroom.

  • Mop up any water on the floor to avoid either you are someone else slipping.

  • Never leave young children alone in the bath. If you must leave for even less than a minute, wrap them in a towel and take them with you.

  • Any bolt on a bathroom door should be at a sufficient height to prevent children from locking themselves in. If there is a key, remove it.

  • Never mix bleach with any proprietary lavatory cleaners. The resulting gas may be extremely toxic and poisonous.

  • If medicines are stored in a bathroom medicine cabinet, fit it high enough as a precaution against children accessing it. It should have a lock, be locked, and the key removed to a safe place.

Living Rooms

  • Don't overload your power circuit. If there are more appliances than power points, fit additional sockets.

  • All plugs should be fitted with the correct fuse for the appliance being employed.

  • Lighting flexes must not trail across the floor where people can trip. Nor should they be run under carpets. They may overheat, and you will not see if they are worn.

  • You should use a natural wood cleaner for your parquet floors. Do not buy anything that promises a clear shine or gloss. Use non-slip polish.

  • If you smoke, be extra careful with upholstered furniture that contains foam plastic, which gives off toxic fumes and thick smoke if it catches alight. The fumes and smoke can kill you, and are far more dangerous than flames.

  • Before leaving the house or going to bed, make sure there are no cigarette ends still smouldering, your hearth fire has been dampened down, and a fireguard is in place.

  • Unplug all electrical appliances at the wall every night, including the radio and television sets, but with the exception of clocks, timers, alarm systems, or dvd recorders, these being designed for continuous use.

Bedrooms

  • Bedrooms account for about one in twenty of home accidents in the home. They vary from poisoning by medicines,  falls from bunk beds, to burns from sun lamps.

  • Electric blankets should have an annual check, plus check the lead for brittleness and cracking every few months.

  • Electric under blankets can overheat, set fire to the mattress, blankets, and bedding. You can also be electrocuted.

  • Do not use high wattage lamps in your bedside lamp. They may cause the shade to overheat and create a fire hazard.

  • Do not cover a bedside lamp shade with paper or cloth to reduce the brightness. This is yet another fire hazard. Use a dimmer bulb, a darker shade, or fit a dimmer switch. 

  • If you have occasion to get up in the night, always put a light on or use a torch.

  • Have a telephone installed in your bedroom, if only for emergency purposes.

  • Do not smoke in bed. This should possibly have been at the top of the list!

  • Children's rooms should have safety locks fitted, and do not position furniture under a window.

Loft Space

  • Fit some form of sturdy floor boarding between the hatch and the water tank, so you can stand safely. 

  • If the loft has no flooring, just step on the joists. The ceiling of the floor below between the joists will not bear the slightest weight. 

  • Make sure the joists are strong enough to support the weight of any storage items. 

  • If you are unsure, based on experience, measure the length of the joists in feet, halve it and add 1. This figure will give you the depth in inches the joists should be. To be more precise, an architect or a reliable builder will be more precise. 

  • Any extensive use of your loft space will necessitate the provision of adequate ventilation and lighting. The building regulations should be available at your local council planning department. 

  • Ensure a light is installed close to the water tank. 

  • Ensure all pipes and any water stirage tanks are properly lagged to guard against freezing and bursting in winter 

  • To gain access to the loft, fit a purpose built loft ladder. You should never use a ladder or pair of steps.

Stairs & Landings

  • Ten percent of accidents in the home are as a result of falls down the stairs, and about one third of them involve children under five. 

  • People can trip on loose carpets. They should therefore be securely laid and be in good condition. 

  • Staircases should have at least one well secured, continuous handrail. 

  • If elderly people are living in the home, install a handrail on both sides. 

  • Make sure stairs are well lit, with two-way switches which can be opened and closed from either floor. 

  • Stair railings should be fitted vertically, not horizontally, with spaces between that are close enough so children cannot put their heads through. 

  • Consider enclosing an open-tread staircase with vertical boards. 

  • Child safety gates should be fitted at the top and bottom of the staircase, thus preventing little ones from falling downstairs, or climbing the stairs without supervision. 

  • Remove loose objects from the stairs. You will almost certainly trip, and fall.

Garden


Exterior spaces, such as gardens, garages, workshops, sheds, are the most dangerous places of all. They account for more than 300,000 accidents a year in the UK, 110,000 being children. Approximately 87,000 injuries occurred while gardening or undertaking DIY in the garden.
The following accident UK annual statistics are the most common:

  • Lawnmowers (6,500)

  • Flowerpots (5,300)

  • Secateurs and pruners (4,400)

  • Spades (3,600)

  • Electric hedgetrimmers (3,100)

  • Plant tubs and troughs (2,800)

  • Shears (2,100)

  • Garden forks (2,000)

  • Hoses and sprinklers (1,900)

  • Garden canes and sticks (1,800)

  • Keep the garden path in good repair. Ensure there are no loose or protruding stones or uneven flagstones which can make people trip. 

  • Do not leave tools, such as rakes, laying about. Store them away after use.

  • If you have young children, enclose or cover any pool, garden pond, or water butt. A child can drown in very shallow water. 

  • Do not allow children to use a lawn mower. If you are using a mower, keep children away. 

  • Never light a fire using paraffin or petrol, whether it be a bonfire, campfire, or simply burning some waste. Stay vigilent, and keep all fires under control. 

  • If your kids are likely to play in your garden, check there are no poisonous trees or plants such as laburnum, deadly nightshade, yew, privet, and others. The nuts, berries, seeds, flowers, or leaves of all these plants can be dangerous. 

  • Keep garden gates locked or bolted high up to prevent young children from opening them and running into the street.

  • If you have small children, fence off or cover pools, garden ponds and water butts. Children can drown in very shallow water. 

  • Use a residual current device when using power tools, including electric mowers, which will cut the power off immediately in the event of an accident. 

  • Don't undertake maintenance or clean the blades while the mower is plugged in. 

  • A simple measure such as wearing appropriate gloves prevents many of the cuts. 

  • When mowing the lawn, wear strong shoes and trousers, not shorts and sandals. 

  • Chemicals should be stored out of sight and out of reach of children.

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