As a homeowner, you’re responsible for everything that happens in your home. This means keeping your family safe, and your house comfortable and in order. A safe and stable environment is the best way to protect everything and everyone that matters most to you.
The reality is, though, that life can be messy and chaotic, especially when you’re chasing after toddlers and juggling a career and lifestyle. Even with reliable construction, regular cleaning and maintenance, and house rules, it’s not always easy to keep your house in order. You might be surprised to learn that the most common safety hazards exist in your home—the one place you and your loved ones should feel most protected.
The good news is that there are a lot of steps you can take to address these home safety hazards. Here’s a quick guide to keeping your loved ones out of harm’s way:
Bookshelves, wall decor, dressers, and coffee tables—all these lifestyle essentials make a comfortable living space. However, did you know that there are hundreds of incidents of furniture tipping over, especially on little kids? Avoid life-threatening injuries by anchoring furniture to the wall, or bolting them securely.
2. Open windows
Keeping the windows open lets light and fresh air in, but did you know that it’s also a hazard? In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to fall out of windows and through the window screens.
If possible, keep the windows locked. When you need some sunlight and air, make sure you have childproof window guards, and move furniture like chairs away to prevent kids from climbing onto the window sills.
Slip and fall accidents are some of the most common injuries. While most are harmless and kids can easily get up, one in five older adults sustains a fracture or head injury. Make sure to clean up wet floors, clutter, and other hazards.
Falls are also a liability. When a guest, repair technician, or other third-party trips or slips and falls because of clutter or shoddy construction, you could be held liable.
While your home insurance can cover these liability claims, you don’t want anyone to be injured on your property. Keep in mind that your home insurance coverage in Alberta is always subject to policy wording, terms, conditions, and deductibles, and protection is limited to the perils, coverage, exclusions, and limits on the policy.
4. Broken staircases
You go up and down the stairs a lot throughout the day, but it only takes one misstep, tripping hazard, or a less secure handrail to get injured. It’s also a liability if a guest or someone else who doesn’t live with you falls from the stairs.
To keep the stairs safe, make sure to clear it of tripping hazards, as well as secure the flooring and handrails. If you have little kids just starting to walk, install safety gates to prevent them from climbing up and down before they’re even ready.
5. Install shower and tub supports
Wet bathroom floors are the most common culprit of serious slip and falls, especially among older family members. To prevent these, install bathroom supports, such as safety bars you can hold on to when getting in and out of the shower. As well, keep rugs secure to avoid slipping and prevent water from pooling. Choose rugs with rubber traction, or add non-slip stickers.
One of the most common disasters to hit homes in Alberta, fires are devastating and deadly. While your home insurance covers these damages, the cost of rebuilding your life can be next to impossible after a devastating loss. Instead, the best thing you can do is prevent a home fire.
There’s a lot you can do to improve fire safety in your home. The basics include installing a fire alarm and buying a fire extinguisher so you can put out a small kitchen fire right away.
You can also practice a number of safety tips, including avoiding leaving candles unattended and preventing electrical fires. Check appliances regularly to spot and fix frayed wires, unplug small appliances when not in use, and avoid overloading electrical outlets.
7. Carbon monoxide and chemical poisoning
Exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) causes headaches and dizziness; any more and it leads to vomiting, vision impairment, and even death. Without a working CO detector, it’s virtually impossible to detect a leak by smell or sight. If it’s been a while since you had your CO detector checked, do it right away.
Other forms of poisoning at home are commonly caused by basic cleaning and maintenance supplies. To avoid these, choose your products wisely and opt for the most non-toxic cleaners available. As well, keep these household items away from children to prevent ingestion.
You might not realize it, but there are a lot of common household items with sharp edges. Food cans, gardening equipment, kitchen tools, razors, and even hard plastic packaging can all cause cuts.
To avoid cuts, make sure to keep these items out of children’s reach. Stow them away on hard-to-reach surfaces. Install child safety locks on kitchen and washroom cabinets and drawers. For larger tools like gardening equipment, make sure they’re safely stored and locked in the garage or shed, and stay alert when using power tools to avoid leaving them lying around unattended.
Burns can happen in the kitchen, particularly when you’re cooking or washing dishes. To prevent these, check the latch on your dishwasher and make sure it’s secure to keep hands from prying it open right after a cycle. Not a lot of people realize that the steam is very hot and can cause burns.
Similarly, when cooking, use the back burners when possible to prevent kids from accidentally touching a hot stovetop. Don’t put treats like cookies on the stovetop, even when it’s not in use. You can also use knob covers to keep little kids from turning on burners.
Drowning doesn’t only happen in the pool or beach. In fact, two-thirds of childhood drownings happen at home, in the bathtub. To prevent this, don’t leave infants and small children unattended in the tub. Keep in mind that drowning can occur in even just a few inches of water, so pay attention to kids when bathing and playing.