Although your home is supposed to be your sanctuary, it is actually the location of the most injuries and deaths for children. According to the Home Safety Council’s 2004 estimates, an average of 2,096 children, ages 14 and under, die as a result of an accident in the home, including fire, suffocation, falling, choking, and drowning.
For those with families, it is very important that you focus on home maintenance and repair issues that will help identify the risks in your home and enable you to prevent or remove any risks that you find.
Crafting a Safe Environment
Making your home safe is a work in progress. It will continue to be one of your top priorities as your home and family age. New hazards will appear over time, so home maintenance for safety should always be on the top of your priority list. Here is a list of maintenance tasks that will help you craft a safer environment for you and your family:
- Install a smoke alarm in each bedroom as well as main hallways. Also consider carbon monoxide detectors because even small amounts of poisonous gas can kill a child. Remember to check the batteries often on all of these devices.
- Set the thermostat on your hot water heater no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to minimize the chance of any burns from water that is too hot.
- Add a safety switch or a mains-operated circuit breaker.
- Replace electrical appliances and cords as they begin to appear worn out.
- Ensure that fireplaces and space heaters are affixed with fireguard screens.
- Construct a four-sided fence with a self-locking gate around swimming pools and spas.
- Put up safety guards across entries to balconies and windows.
- Use window locks, especially on upper floors. Make sure that you keep chairs and other furniture away from windows so that children cannot climb up them to get to a window.
- Lock up all dangerous items, including power tools, sharp utensils and appliances, medicines, and guns. In terms of guns, these should be stored unloaded with ammunition kept in a separate locked area.
- Put locks on toilets when your children are little so that they do not slip and fall head first into the toilet water. It has been found that children can drown in as little as one inch of water.
Out of Harm’s Way: More Helpful Safety Tips
In terms of some specific areas of the home, here are some other helpful hints:
- Attach bookcases, mirrors, pictures, and closets to the wall.
- Install child locks so that children cannot open front or sliding doors on their own.
- When your children are still not able to climb stairs on their own, put safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Use plastic socket covers in empty electrical sockets. This also helps conserve energy because air tends to enter the house this way, affecting the temperature and the length of time you run heating and cooling systems.
- Pay attention to all decorator items that you install, such as window blinds, to make sure that they meet current safety standards.
- Take all product recalls seriously on cribs, appliances, toys and any other household item. You do not want to take the chance with your children’s lives by not getting rid of an item that has been found to be unsafe.
- Keep and update your first aid supply kit.
- Post emergency numbers, including police, fire, and the poison control center next to home telephones and store these numbers in the memory of your cell phones.
Educate Your Little Ones
While all the suggested maintenance tips are really a necessity when you have little ones, these types of situations are also an excellent time to help educate your children. Explain to them what you are doing while you do a repair or add a safety feature to your home. Help them understand why you are doing it, what could happen if you did not take such precautions, and why they should not take certain actions, such as climbing furniture, opening a window, touching a hot stove, or getting into a medicine cabinet. It is also a good time to teach your children to memorize emergency numbers or give them some guidance on what they can do to help if there is a home emergency. This includes having an emergency plan for the family.
So, while these situations seem to be all about fear and danger, it is good to use this as a bonding and teaching experience with your children so that they understand what to do in case they are somewhere else where someone has not taken the same precautions. There is never a bad time or situation for helping your children develop in their understanding of the world.
Keep Track of Your Safety Record
To keep up with all the tasks involved in making your home safe, it is important to keep a record of what you have done and what you need to review on a regular basis to maintain a certain standard.
Ownersite Technologies provide a secure, user-friendly Web portal that allows you to keep a safety maintenance task list that you can access at home from your computer as well as while you are away from home through your phone or wireless device. This helps you when you need to hit the DIY store and can’t remember what safety equipment you need to pick up to finish those projects waiting for you at home. The service can also send you helpful e-mail reminders so that you remember when it is time to review what you have in place in case any necessary repairs or adjustments need to be made.
It is this type of partnership that provides you with the peace of mind that you are doing everything you can to maintain a safe and secure home. It is important to remember, however, there is not a guarantee that your attention to detail in terms of safety maintenance will prevent accidents from happening. The best prevention is to property supervise your children at all times to effectively minimize any danger to your most vulnerable and treasured possessions – your loved ones.