accidents at home

How To Prevent Accidents At Home

We like to think that our home is our castle. A safe haven where happy memories are made. However, this isn’t always the case. Unfortunately household accidents are one of the leading causes of serious injury and even death in both young children and older people in the UK. The good news is that there are several things you can do to make your home safer and prevent dangerous accidents from occurring.


Who’s Most At Risk?

Around 2 million children each year are taken to hospital due to suffering injuries at home. About a quarter of this number are children under the age of five, with boys more likely to be injured than girls. Very young children are more susceptible to injury because their ability to assess danger is considerably limited.

Older people, especially the frail elderly, are the other demographic most vulnerable to accidents, particularly in and around the home.


Fire Safety

Fire is lethal. It can damage your home, destroy your belongings, and worse of all, kill. Fires are caused in a variety of different ways, but fortunately there are several measures you can put in place to prevent them starting at all.

  1. Do not smoke in bed. To go one step further and fully avoid the risk of cigarettes starting a house fire, simply do not smoke in the house at all.
  2. The majority of house fires start in the kitchen. You can reduce the risk by not leaving pans unattended, being watchful of overheating, and even purchasing a thermostatically controlled deep-fat fryer.
  3. Keep matches and lighters out of the children’s reach.
  4. If you have an open fire, use a fire guard.
  5. Keep candles and portable heaters away from curtains and furniture.
  6. Make sure you have at least one working smoke detector installed. Ideally, a smoke detector for each floor would make your house even safer in the event of a fire.
  7. Make sure that the exits from your house are easy to reach and are not blocked.


Electrical Safety

Many household accidents and fatalities are caused by electrical problems. Follow these tips to protect yourself from the dangers of electricity.

  1. Keep portable mains-powered appliances, like hairdryers and televisions, out of the bathroom.
  2. Search for the CE marking on every electrical item you purchase.
  3. Never overload a plug point with multiple extension leads that power many items.
  4. Make sure to have the wiring in your house checked at least every five years by a certified electrician, or if you are purchasing an old property, make this an absolute priority.
  5. If you have young children, consider using plug socket covers to prevent little fingers tampering with your plug points and risking a nasty shock.


Safety In the Kitchen

The kitchen is full of dangers, and a potential minefield to a young child. There are several things you can do make it safer.

  1. Keep knives and other sharp implements out of reach, and towards the back of drawers if they can be easily pulled open by children.
  2. When cooking, keep the handles of your cooking pans facing inwards instead of overhanging to prevent them from being grabbed.
  3. Keep the wires of your kettle, toaster, and other appliances neat and out of the way so that they can not be easily yanked.
  4. When arranging your storage cupboards, put heavy stuff at the bottom and work your way upwards in order of weight to prevent the risk of collapsing shelves.
  5. Keep medication in a high place, and even consider purchasing a lockable container to store them in.
  6. To prevent young children from entering the kitchen at all, you could place a stair-gate across the door frame which would still enable you to hear and keep and eye on them whilst you are cooking and cleaning.


Older People Safety

The vast majority of fatal and non-fatal injuries to older people in the home are the result of falls. The most serious accidents occur mainly on the stairs and in the kitchen. If you know an elderly person who you think might be at risk in their own home, there are several ways you can help them to make their house safer.

  1. It may be worth considering getting a stairlift installed to help them manoeuvre up and down the stairs. This will completely eradicate the risk of a fall on the stairs.
  2. Another option would be to have another hand-rail fitted on the stairs for extra stability.
  3. Avoid leaving items on the stairs, because they can be potential trip hazards.
  4. Make sure landings, stairs and hallways are well lit with two-way light switches.
  5. Ensure stairs are well maintained – if the carpet is worn or damaged, fix it.

As you can see, your home is full of potential hazards that can leave yourself and your loved ones seriously injured. However, all it takes is a quick risk assessment and a few simple DIY jobs, along with exercising common sense, for you to fortify your house and minimise the dangers.

There are various local resources which provide additional advice on how to minimise the occurence of injuries in the home, including how to deal with falls, and information on useful items which can help keep your home safe.