Accident-proofing one’s home is a must for every responsible, caring parent. While everybody thinks that one’s house is a clean and safe refuge for children, a house can present many hazards to those who are not conscious and careful about their environment. Having a detailed look into one’s home is not only essential to keep kids safe. In case one lives with elderly family members or persons with disabilities, it is also crucial to have a “safety first” mindset to keep them away from unnecessary accidents.
Here are some things to consider to make your house a safer place to live in:
Slippery Rooms and Floors
Parents, especially those who stay home full-time to take care of the kids, have an almost endless list of chores to do. They try to keep up with many tasks like preparing and cooking food, helping the children with schoolwork, giving smaller kids baths, and picking up the mess playing toddlers make.
Keeping the bathroom spic and span is also a priority. Beware of the hazard of wet floors after a shower. It is also good to check if this area needs professional drain cleaning. It is not uncommon to have hair clog up the holes and cause a small but slippery puddle in the bathtub and shower area.
Mopping floors can be a slippery slope to the hospital. It is good advice to have a wet mop and a drop mop. These items can be used interchangeably and keep the floor dry as fast as possible. It is also not an over-reaction to use a ‘Caution: Wet Floors’ sign in bright yellow and bold black letters. A simpler way is to loudly say, “Careful! Wet floors!” whenever doing the mopping since this would alert other family members.
Sharp Edges on Furniture and Appliances
Have you ever stubbed a toe on a door or a couch? It hurts, does it? These small, yet painful things happen almost every day to people. It can seem to be a short episode of sharp pain that quickly goes away. Or it could be a small injury that, if left unattended, could build up over time due to repeated bumps, bruises, or tiny cuts. Even a small incision on the skin from a bump can get worse if bacterial infection sets in.
A quick check of tables, counter edges, handrails, and even the shapes of appliances like aluminum-lined televisions, microwaves, and washing machines can show pointy parts. One can get a local carpenter or handyman to cut or dull the edge of wooden corners and tips. Rounding off these edges reduces the possibility of getting a cut once the sharpness dulled with a sander. One can also buy rubberized stickers or bump guards used on car doors and use them inside the house.
Fire and Electric Shock Hazards
Aside from having a fire extinguisher at home, looking for fire and shock hazards at home simply cannot be overlooked. In the kitchen, take a look at items that could be flammable or combustible that were mistakenly placed near the stove, such as cookbooks, plastic materials, or household chemical-based cleaners like bleach.
Parents with toddlers also need to beware if their children can reach for a spoon, fork, metallic tools, or even chopsticks that they might want to poke into electric sockets. Small kids running around with their baby bottles or small cups might accidentally pour liquids into these electrical outlets or cooking appliances that are plugged.
How can little things that bring our kids joy pose a threat? While most toys have been made using non-toxic material, it is still a wise thing to inspect each one. For example, a teddy bear might have eyes made of buttons or a googly eye ornament. Through use or frequent playing, these items can get loose. Toddlers, being experimental with their mouth, might swallow them. Some toys like trains, race cars, space ships, and robots might have slightly sharp edges or removable parts that can be easily swallowed, as well.
Toy swords, plastic spears, and even foamed nunchaku that are so popular with boys can hit, poke, or bruise a child if they use it unsupervised by an adult.
Inside the house, children might also become curious about items stored in a high cupboard or cabinet. They might step on an unstable chair or table to reach into the storage. It is a proper intervention to keep kids’ toys within reach and that they know which parts of the house are off-limits. Perhaps kids have been using a double-deck bed for a long time. It may be time to inspect the bed ladder and handrails for stability. Some stairways may also be too steep for young kids and may need a gate to prevent them from wandering up and down the steps.
Doors, Gates, and Balconies
Doors and gates always need to be locked to prevent children from coming out of the house without the parents’ knowledge. Keeping them closed also prevent intruder entry. For homes with second-floor balconies or those that live in high-rise buildings, it is an absolute must to keep sliding doors or access ways locked to stop young children from stepping out. Some years ago, a famous singer-composer experienced this tragedy when his toddler son walked out and fell from their condo balcony.
Garage and Swimming Pools
Garage paths and automatic doors also pose a danger to young kids. Another famous singer’s young daughter was accidentally run over by his older brother, who was maneuvering and trying to align the car properly. The little girl, excited to see her older brother, ran out of the house and circled towards the back of the vehicle. As the car moved in reverse, the tragedy happened.
Swimming pools must also be covered with commercially available pool nets and wide mats. For those with an adequate budget, they can have a motorized pool cover installed. That will prevent small kids and even pets from accidentally falling.
These are only some ideas about where to start accident-proofing your home. Each home is uniquely designed and furnished. It is up to the parents, guardians, and homeowners to make their property safe for everyone there.