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Avoid Common Household Hazards

Every year, thousands of people are injured in their homes by common household hazards, ranging from simple injuries to fires. By adhering to some simple rules and being aware of your surroundings, you can help avoid these hazards and protect the ones you love. To be sure you’re covered, reduce your risks and evaluate your home insurance policy.

Common Injuries in the Home

Your home is your castle. Being aware of common household injuries can help you keep you safe and sound.

  • Falls are a major cause of accidental injury, and many falls occur in the home. To help avoid falls, the National Safety Council recommends that you keep walkways clear of obstacles, clean up spills immediately and, if you have young children, install gates at the top and bottom of stairways — and unlatch the gate when you need to pass, rather than climbing over it.
  • Take steps to prevent an accidental poisoning in your home. The American Association of Poison Control Centers has gathered prevention tips on its website. To help protect from accidental poisoning, the Poison Help Hotline is standing by 24 hours a day to answer questions at 1-800-222-1222. Parents should also keep prescription and over-the-counter drugs out of reach of children.

Home Fire Safety

In 2011, fire departments responded to 370,000 home fires in the U.S. Most home insurance plans provide coverage for your home’s structure in the case of an accident fire; to be sure if your home is covered, talk to your agent.

But, with a few simple precautions, you can help improve the fire safety of your home.

  • Smoke alarms: Every home or apartment should have at least one working smoke alarm. Working smoke alarms can double your chances of survival in the case of a fire, so be sure to test them monthly, replace the batteries at least once a year, and keep them free of dust.
  • Electrical fires: Avoid overloading circuits or extension cords. Do not place cords and wires under rugs, over nails or in high-traffic areas. If you have an appliance or device that sputters, sparks or releases an unusual smell, immediately shut it off, unplug it and have it professionally repaired or replaced.
  • Outlet safety: Use safety caps to cover all unused outlets, especially if there are small children in the home.
  • Chill out: Give portable heaters the space they need. In 2011, 33 percent of home heating fires were attributed to portable or stationary space heaters, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Keep anything combustible at least 3 feet away, as these types of space heaters may overheat.
  • Clogged dryer exhaust ducts: Lint can build up in your dryer’s exhaust ducts and catch fire. Take a few minutes to regularly remove the buildup with a do-it-yourself dryer duct cleaning kit.

Child Safety

Protect the little ones in your home by following these simple precautionary measures:

  • Protect from tip-overs. Top-heavy furniture like TVs, dressers and stoves can tip over and injure young children. Make your furniture more stable by installing anchors and brackets.
  • Magnets. Children may get their hands on small, powerful magnets and swallow them. If this happens, magnets can attract each other inside the body and block, twist or tear the intestines. The warning signs may not be obvious, so if you think your child has swallowed a magnet, seek medical attention immediately.
  • Windows. Never place a crib or playpen near a window blind, as children may become entangled in the long cords. To prevent entanglement or strangulation, use cordless blinds or install safety devices on blind cords. You can also install window guards or stops to prevent falls through a window.

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