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Reducing Risk Inside and Around the Home

In the kitchen,

  • Keep a distance between flammable objects (papers, curtains, plastics, etc.) and fire sources (oven, stove top, portable heater, etc.)
  • Use harmful products (cleaning solutions, lighters) with caution (follow instructions!) and keep them out of reach of children and pets.
  • Never leave sharp objects (knives) or other such tools and utensils misplaced or unattended.
  • Ensure electrical cords aren’t draped across other appliances or the counter or stove top.
  • Leave space around appliances for proper ventilation.

In the bathroom,

  • Keep electrical appliances wrapped and away from water.
  • Use non-slip strips or floor mats
  • Always keep the room clean and as dry as possible.

In the bedroom,

  • Never smoke.
  • As always, ensure that everything else is a safe distance away from a source of fire or heat.
  • Opt for mattresses with open flame-resistant protection.
  • You’re most vulnerable when you sleep. Even in bed, keep a phone, light, (and, if necessary, a weapon) within reach.

In the garage,

  • This is probably where you store most of your tools and equipment. Take precautions with flammable liquids, chemicals, and anything producing fumes.
  • Keep poisonous substances (paint thinner, antifreeze, rat poison, etc.) locked up and out of reach of children and pets.
  • Keep your space clean and organized, especially as many of your tools are sharp, heavy, or otherwise dangerous.

In the yard,

  • Surround your property with a sturdy fence (this is more for keeping in children and pets, but can also serve to remind strangers to keep out).
  • If you’ve got a pool, keep it locked down or fenced in when not in use.
  • Be careful when working in bad weather. Use sand, salt, and good-traction footware on ice and snow.

On the stairs,

  • Keep steps clean and dry.
  • Always install stable and sturdy railing on both sides of the stairs.
    1. Ensure that the distance between the rails is narrow enough to prevent a child or infant from falling through.
      1. Good rule of thumb: less than four inches!
  • Keep stairs well lit.

Guard against fire with these home safety tips:

  • Install smoke detectors, check them regularly, and replace the batteries at least once a year.
  • Avoid overloading outlets and extension cords.
  • Keep fire extinguishers handy and know how to use them.
  • Establish a safety exit, ensure all family members know and understand it, practice with drills, and ensure it’s never blocked.
  • Never block or pile things on heaters or near heat-exuding appliances; give these a wide berth, plenty of breathing room, and make sure they don’t get overheated.
  • Ensure that all materials are fire-resistant if you’re renovating or just fixing up something around the house.
  • Never leave any type of fire or hot appliance unattended.
  • Remove dry vegetation around your home, especially during the dry seasons.
  • Cover the fireplace with a stable and large metal fire frame.

Have easy access to important phone numbers: the police, the fire department, poison control, and trusted family, friends, and neighbors, in case of an emergency.

Clearly mark your street number on the mailbox, fence, gate, or wall so you can easily be located in case of an emergency. Consider investing on a home safety orientation training if you're working in the home care industry.

Did You Know?
85% of all U.S. fire deaths in 2009 occurred in homes (4) Every 14.6 seconds, one burglary takes place.(5) Most Burglars Leave Immediately When Forced Entry FailsTypically, burglars spend less than 60 seconds breaking into a home. The more difficult it is to gain access, the more likely a burglar is to reconsider the attack. (6)
Action Items
  • Establish an evacuation plan and discuss it with the rest of the household.
  • Purchase, renew, and check all of your home’s smoke alarms.
  • Buy a fire extinguisher and have it in a handy, easily accessible location.
  • Place a “save the baby” or “save our pet” sticker on a front window to alert firefighters about family members who can’t save themselves.
  • Keep the indoors a no-smoking zone; put up signs and stickers if need be.
  • Never leave fire—used in whichever room and for whatever purpose—unattended.

Guarding Against Intruders

Install a home security system.

Make sure locks are in place and are functioning correctly.

Always check through a peephole or window before opening the door when somebody knocks.

Keep your doors closed even when you’re home, including the garage doors.

Keep blinds or curtains closed so you don’t advertise what’s inside (especially in expensive rooms!).

Store your valuables in a safe or a very clever hiding spot, instead of leaving them lying around.

Protect sliding doors from intrusion by inserting a metal bar or pipe on the bottom track (make sure it’s the same length).

Request identification if a stranger claims to be a police officer or other government official.

Adopt a guard dog.

Report any suspicious activity around your house or in the neighbourhood to the local authorities immediately.

Don’t leave digital footprints for criminals. Social networks provide an easy, fun, and dangerous way to announce your exact whereabouts and all times. We often forget that our friends aren’t the only ones privy all of to the information that we post.

  • Never announce that you’re leaving your home, especially for prolonged absences.
  • Never post your address or phone number.
  • Be careful of the information you provide on your answering machine, voicemail, or email signatures.

Households with Children

Never leave children alone or unattended near water or fire.

  • If a child is missing, always check bodies of water (pool or bathtub) first—you can prevent a drowning by mere seconds.

Unload and lock away firearms, and any other weapons.

Keep medications and chemicals safely out of reach.

Keep choking hazards (small items and small food) safely out of reach.

Keep heavy or breakable objects safely out of reach.

Use round-ended furniture, and avoid sharp objects and accessories.

Secure household items; prevent tipping by securing bookcases, shelves, and other objects or appliances that could disastrously fall.

Immediately replace any damaged, frayed, or faulty materials or appliances that could pose a hazard to an unsuspecting child.

Cover outlets, ground appliances, and coil extension cords when not in use; although these are rules to be followed anyway, they are especially important with children underfoot.

Avoid lead poisoning by double-checking the toys and equipment for your child.

  • Opt only for cribs, high chairs, and other regularly used furniture that have been painted after 1978.
  • Buy new furniture; old pieces might be worn down or have missing parts, which is hazardous.
  • The UL logo indicates products that have been expertly inspected, verified, and deemed safe.

Reduce the risk of suffocation.

  • Remove access to trunks, old refrigerators, car trunks, and any other such area where children could get locked in.
  • Keep beds and cribs as bare as possible—infants in particular are susceptible to suffocation.

Block or lock the windows, stairways, and doors to prevent accidental falls or unintended wanderings by small children.

Protect kids from plants. Plants are beautiful, infuse the air with oxygen, and decorate a room nicely. But they can be toxic if consumed. Know what plants you have, and opt for the safest ones.

Households with Elders

Guard against falls:

  • Install rails along the staircase, in the bathroom.
  • Secure windows, block stairways, and lock doors.
  • Replace unstable or slippery rugs and runners.
  • Ensure the floor is always clean, clear, and dry.

General tips:

  • Keep rooms well lit; elders often have trouble with vision (or other senses, in which case it’s even more important for them to see).
  • Use night lights or motion-sensor lights for easy navigation.
  • Arrange furniture for easy navigation.
  • Rearrange furniture and items to make often-used objects more accessible.
  • Easy access to phone numbers in case of an emergency or in order to contact family/a trusted neighbor.

When Vacationing Away From Home

Lock up. Ensure that all your locks are functioning properly and that all doors and windows are locked.

Create the illusion that someone is home:

  • Turn on (and leave on) a TV or stereo
  • Leave some interior lights on; use a timer if you’re gone for more than a day.
  • Leave on exterior lighting
  • Use exterior lights that turn on via motion detectors

Never leave notes on the door when you go out (for a neighbor, handyman, family member, or whomever)—this is practically you hollering that you’ve left the building.

Lower your ring tone. If you’ll be gone for a while, adjust your telephone so that the volume is low, and the incessant ringing doesn’t trumpet your absence.

Pull the plug on certain appliances. You don’t need the toaster, the computer, or the washing machine to be on, for example. You’ll save energy, money, and the risk of something messing up or igniting due to power surges or other mishaps.

Have a trusted neighbour or friend regularly pick up your mail.

  • Never pause or cancel mail delivery—you never know who might pick up on that.

Never leave extra keys in expected places. Under the doormat and in the flowerpot next to the door aren’t the wisest of hiding places. Find a very inconspicuous place, or entrust a good neighbour.