For many, home is our safe place. But don’t assume you’re making home a risk-free environment. Home accidents account for a large percentage of injuries as well as deaths in this country. Keeping your home a healthy and safe place takes a little planning and effort to ensure it’s truly a haven.
Safety in the Kitchen
Threat The kitchen is the most dangerous room for home safety, especially for toddlers and the elderly. Pot handles on the stove are magnets to children, and hot water spills can cause instantaneous deep burns to their delicate skin.
Solution Keep pot handles turned inward and keep children away from the stove, microwave and oven when in use.
Threat Perceptions and reflexes decline with age, and the risk for the elderly of clothing catching fire from flames on the stove is common and very serious. Grease fires are also quite common.
Solution Avoid loose-fitting clothing and flowy sleeves when cooking. Remember that oil and water do not mix. Never throw water on a grease fire. Always have a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen to use if a fire breaks out. These tips are pillars for making home a risk-free environment.
In the Bathroom
Threat Hot tap water can lead to home safety concerns like scald burns for toddlers and the elderly who either don’t know how to turn off the offending tap or cannot to get out of harm’s way quickly.
Solution Keep your water heater at 120 degrees to significantly lower the risk.
Home Safety from Smoke and Fire
Threat According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the United States Fire Administration (USFA), the risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half in homes with working smoke alarms.
Solution The simple installation of smoke detectors and periodic checks to see that the batteries are working is an easy home safety and life-saving step.
Lead Paint Toxicity
Threat Old, lead-based paint is the most significant source of lead exposure in the U.S. today. Most homes built before 1960 and some homes built as recently as 1978 may also contain lead paint. This is a hidden risk that often escapes home safety concerns.
Solution For homes built in the above time frame, do not burn painted wood, sand or burn off paint. Consult the state health or housing department for suggestions on laboratories or agencies that test for lead in paint.
Indoor Air Pollution
Threat Furniture, upholstery, building materials and cleaning products in homes and offices can emit toxic compounds. Indoor air pollution can also be caused by pollen, bacteria and molds, as well as outdoor air contaminants like the recent fires in our area. Being aware of these points is key to making home a risk-free environment.
Solution Plants purify air by absorbing some of the particulates at the same time that they take in carbon dioxide. Plants that work particularly well include aloe vera, bamboo palm, Boston fern and ficus. Finally, remember to change your air filters so they are clear to remove common pollutants in the home.
Dr. Peter H. Grossman is a board certified plastic surgeon whose private medical practice covers cosmetic and reconstructive surgery and burn care. Dr. Grossman was the President of the Los Angeles Society of Plastic Surgeons (2013-2018). He has been a guest host on EXTRA and featured on Oprah, CNN, ABC Primetime and Good Morning America. He is also President of The Grossman Burn Foundation, a charitable organization supporting burn survivors locally and globally.