Each year, consumer products injure 33.1 million people in their homes. Whether houses or apartments, owned or rented, Americans place great value on the home as a center of safety and security: a realization of the “American dream.” Hazardous products in the home threaten to taint this security. However, by remaining aware and familiarizing yourself with these top five hazards as determined by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), you can come one step closer to a safe, happy home. Some hazards are new; others have been around for years. Whether this is new information or a refresher, it can bring more security into the life of your family. Best of all, with minimal investment of time and money, the dangers on this list are preventable.
– 1 Death, 86 Injuries since 2005
In all, 8 million magnetic toys have been recalled. The popularity of these magnets comes from their small size and strong charge, making them fun additions to toys, jewelry, and building sets. However, incidents of children swallowing magnets and other pieces of these toys have increased along with their popularity. Aside from posing a choking hazard, once swallowed, magnets can attract one another through the tissues of the digestive system, threatening to block, twist, pinch, or tear intestinal tracts. Diagnosis of such a condition is difficult and, if not treated, infection and even death can result.
Children under six should be kept away from magnet pieces and products. If you learn that you have a recalled magnetic toy, contact the manufacturer for instruction.
2) Recalled Products
About 400 product recalls are issued each year. Authorities such as the CPSC are charged with removing dangerous products from the marketplace but once purchased and in the home, it is the consumer who must remain watchful. Stay informed about the latest safety recalls to keep dangerous recalled products away from family members.
Get dangerous products out of the home. Join CPSC’s mailing list or check their site frequently for the latest recalls.
– Average deaths per year: 22, including 31 in 2006 with approximately 3,000 injuries
Our homes are filled with large, heavy objects with the potential to fall over onto a family member. Furniture, televisions, ranges, and other items can crush young children if tipped over. Climbing up onto or falling against such items as dressers, desks, bookcases, and television stands can cause a tip-over and the potential for injury or death. Avoid placing televisions in precarious places on top of furniture. Also minimize the temptation for kids to climb. Don’t leave items that children might want –remote controls, toys, or treats – in sight but out of reach.
Take a few minutes and verify that your furniture is stable on its own. It is also relatively easy to secure furniture to the floor or wall. Be sure to install anti-tip brackets on free standing appliances.
4) Windows & Coverings
– Average annual deaths from window cords: 12
– Average annual deaths from window falls: 9, with an estimated 3,700 injuries
The child strangle hazard presented by window drapery and blind cords is well-documented but, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that it has been eliminated. Cords and chains should be kept permanently out of the reach of children. An even better option is the use of cordless blinds and shades. If you wish to modify your existing cords, cut any looped cords and install a safety tassel at the end of each pull cord. Alternatively, use a tie-down device and install inner cord stays to prevent strangulation. Also use common sense about the placement of cribs and playpens: never within reach of a window blind.
Unfortunately, window coverings and pull cords aren’t the end of the danger of windows. Kids love to play around windows, but can be at risk of falling out of open windows. While window screens are reliable for keeping bugs out, they cannot be trusted to keep kids in. Window guards and stops are a good option.
Take a few steps to make your windows safe: address any looped pull cords and install window guards or stops to prevent falls.
5) Pool & Spa Drains
– Fatalities from 2002-2004: 2, with 15 reported injuries
Pools and spas can present a not-so-obvious drowning hazard: when draining, the suction created can be powerful enough to hold a child or an adult underwater. Drain covers that are missing or broken create the risk of the body becoming sealed against the drain or the hair being pulled in and tangled. These incidents are called entrapment. Thankfully, it is an easy fix: owners can install a Safety Vacuum Release System (SVRS), which automatically shuts off the pool’s pump or otherwise interrupts the water circulation in the event of a blocked drain to prevent entrapment.
Just as you check your seatbelt and mirrors every time you drive, you should inspect your pool or spa for entrapment hazards each time you use it. Making sure appropriate drain covers are in place and undamaged is a simple and effective procedure.