According to the Centers for Disease Control, unintentional injuries are the third most common cause of death in the United States, and lead to over 29 million emergency room visits per year. Here are quick tips to avoid some of the most common injuries that occur at home.
Avoiding Slips and Falls
Among the most common type of accidents are slips and falls. Particularly dangerous to the youngest and oldest members of the population, falling can be catastrophic to the body and is a leading cause of injury for all age groups. For the elderly, slips and falls are responsible for 95% of hip replacements. And while there is no way to prevent all slips and falls entirely, measures can be taken to reduce the likelihood of them happening in the home.
For younger children, be sure to properly install and use safety gates around stairways. For all age groups, it is recommended to try and keep things off of the floor that might lead to a dangerous slip or fall. Encourage your family to put things away after they are done, and set a good example by doing so yourself.
For the elderly, strength and balance exercises should be prioritized—Tai Chi or yoga are great examples for this. Make sure that your eyes are checked at least once a year and that all of your corrective lens prescriptions are up to date. Make the home safer by installing railing on both sides of the stairway or grip bars in the shower. Finally, make sure that the lights in your home are all working and operational.
In the kitchen, cuts are one of the most common injuries. These can be more easily avoided by making sure your knives are sharp - a dull knife is more likely to slip and cause an injury than a properly-edged one. Be sure to keep your knives properly stored when not in use, suck as in a knife block (which can also help keep their edge sharper than storing in a drawer). Also, it is important to never leave a knife where it is unlikely to be seen. Placing a knife in a soapy sink, for instance, could lead to a cut as you do the dishes later.
Keep a first aid kit handy for when cuts do occur. Make sure it is stocked with a variety of bandages to accommodate injuries on different parts of the body—a cut on your knuckle may require a different bandage than one on the palm of the hand. Be sure to clean any wounds before they are bandaged as well, and to replace the bandages as needed while they heal.
Burns account for over $1 billion of hospitalization costs every year. Like cuts, burns are likely to happen in the kitchen. Always use an oven mitt when possible, and make sure to regularly replace yours as they begin to wear thin. Be particularly careful when working with hot liquids of any kind, as hot oil or boiling water can splatter and cause burns as easily as a hot pan. Be mindful to keep pot and pan handles facing inwards towards the stove to avoid them from being accidentally caught and tipped over—especially if there are small children in the home.
While many burns occur in the kitchen, you may also want to consider checking your hot water heater. Keeping the maximum temperature below 120 degrees can prevent your family and guests from burning themselves when washing their hands or stepping into the shower.
Nothing can beat mindfulness for preventing common household injuries. In the event that a serious incident occurs, do not hesitate to call 911. Remember, if you think it's an emergency, then it's likely an emergency. Do not hesitate to reach out for help.