Do You Have A Prevention and Safety Plan for Your Home?

Most people feel a sense of security and comfort in their home, and many don’t believe anything bad could happen to them while there. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth, as more accidents happen at home than anywhere else. In fact, more than 18,000 Americans die each year due to accidents at home and there are over 21 million patient trips to doctors, clinics and hospitals for treatments due to injuries incurred while at home.

Does that number surprise you? You may wonder how so many accidents happen at home. The simple answer is – lack of care. Some of the most common causes of home-based accidents are due to inattention and neglect. Below is a list of the most frequent causes of injuries at home, and ideas for preventing them:

Falls

  • Banisters and railings – all stairways, indoors and out, should have banisters and railings to help prevent falls. Most states have laws specifying exactly how long the railing needs to be and where it should be installed – make sure to check your local requirements.
  • Ladder usage – failure to take proper ladder safety measures results in countless injuries every year. Always make sure to check your ladder for damage before use, set it up properly, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on weight limit.
  • Clutter and debris – a messy playroom floor or shoes left on the stairs can lead to grave injury. Keep your house and yard free of clutter to avoid accidental trips and falls.

 

Poisoning

  • Household cleaners and chemicals – items such as bathroom cleaner, bleach, paint, and auto coolant can quickly and easily be opened and ingested by curious children. Remove temptation by keeping them locked up in a secure place.
  • Improperly stored medicine – as with chemicals and cleaners, keep all medicines away from curious hands by storing them in an appropriate location (such as a medicine safe, or in a locked cabinet).

Drowning

Swimming pools, kiddie pools, and even bathtubs can be the cause of serious accidents in the home, especially if you have children. Keep pools secure by installing appropriate fencing and gates, empty kiddie pools when not in use, and never allow children to play unattended in the bathtub.

Fires and burns

  • Hot water heater – whether accidental or on purpose, many people set their hot water heater far too high, often resulting in unintentional burns. To avoid scalding, set your heater at or below 120°F.
  • Stove and oven – to help avoid accidents involving a hot stove or oven, try to use the back burners whenever possible, and turn all pot and pan handles so they’re facing in.
  • Fireplace – a fireplace can be the cause of a devastating house fire. To avoid such accidents, keep anything that can burn at least three feet from the fireplace, and make sure to clean the chimney and flue regularly.

One of the best things you can do to help prevent accidents and injuries in the home is to come up with a safety plan. Include items such as those listed above and discuss your safety plan with everyone in the household. Adults and children alike should be aware of proposed safety measures and actively work to implement them. The best prevention is to review your safety plan frequently and adjust it as necessary.

Choosing the Right Ladder for the Job – Height, Material, Style and Duty Rating

Many people don’t realize that ladders aren’t one-size-fits-all. You wouldn’t, for example, use the same ladder at a commercial construction site that you would use to screw in a lightbulb in your kitchen. Ladders come in a variety of different materials, styles, sizes, and duty ratings, and each one is intended for a very specific usage.

When choosing a ladder, some things you should ask yourself are:

  • Am I working indoors or outdoors?
  • How high do I need to go?
  • Will I be carrying anything heavy up and down the ladder?
  • Will I be working near electricity?
  • What project(s) do I need to complete?

Using the answers to those questions, you can determine the following:

What style ladder should I use?

Step ladder: A short folding ladder with a platform, this type of ladder is often used inside the house for simple jobs, such as decorating the top of the Christmas tree or painting hard-to-reach trim.

Extension ladder: This type of ladder extends through sliding sections and can reach heights up to 40’ tall. It is often used for outdoor jobs, such as working on a roof or trimming tall trees.

Dual purpose ladder: As the name suggests, a dual purpose can act as both a step and an extension ladder. This is an excellent ladder to have when you will be working on many different types of jobs.

Platform ladder: This portable ladder has a platform at the highest intended standing level, surrounded by a railing. Unlike a regular ladder, when standing on a platform, you are free to face in any direction.

How tall should my ladder be?

One of the main causes of ladder-related injury is standing too high up on the rungs or reaching too far – both of which can be avoided by choosing the proper height ladder. When determining which ladder to use, keep these rules in mind:

  • The highest safe standing level is 4 rungs from the top of an extension ladder, or 2 rungs on a step ladder
  • To allow for proper setup, an extension ladder should be 7-10 feet taller than the highest point of contact
  • Maximum safe reaching distance is 4 feet above the top of a ladder

What material should ladder should I buy?

Ladders are available in several materials. Each has strong points and detriments.

  • Wood – an economical choice, any by far the most popular amongst home owners, but not especially durable or long-lasting.
  • Aluminum – long-lasting and light weight, but can’t be used near electric and typically not used on commercial job sites because of that
  • Fiberglass – safe to use near electricity and are by far the most durable, but highly expensive and slightly heavier than aluminum

What duty rating do I need?

One of the most important factors in ladder safety, but often overlooked, is duty rating. Every ladder comes with a duty rating, or maximum safe load capacity, ranging from 200lbs at the low end to 375 at the high end. It’s important to know that the maximum weight limit includes you AND anything you might be carrying. This means that if you’re hauling a 30-lb toolbox up the ladder with you, you need to take that into account.

There are many potential dangers when working on a ladder, but choosing the right one helps ensure that your job will be completed safely.