Preventing Falls, Poisoning, and Kitchen Knives

Parents are pretty familiar by now with the different dangers that lurk within the home. It’s even more difficult if there are kids or elderly in the house. Sometimes, even after meticulous childproofing, there are still accidents waiting to happen that slip past our gaze every now and then. We’ve listed three of the common hazards at home - falls, poisoning, and sharp objects in the kitchen - as well as how to prevent these from happening in the future.

Catch Me, I’m Falling

Falls are at the top of the causes of injuries and deaths inside the home in America. Kids below age 5 and adults at age 70 and above are most at risk. To prevent falls:

  • Use non-skid bath mats. A non-skid floor will give a better floor grip for anyone in the room. In addition, install handle bars for added support and never leave water on the floor.
  • Keep staircases a safe zone. Always make sure that there aren’t things lying around on stairs and walkways. Keep handrails on both sides of the stairs. These should be illuminated adequately to prevent accidents, especially during the night. If you have kids, safety gates that are hardware-mounted are preferable than pressure-mounted.
  • Skip the throw rugs. Throw rugs can be a cause of tripping and falling. If you must use them, make sure to tack or tape them snugly on the the floor.
  • Keep a night light. It’s advised to have a night light in bathrooms, bedrooms, and halls.
  • Keep an eye on windows. Windows have been a huge home hazard in New York City, but when they required window guards in every home, the number of window-related accidents had dropped to a third. Window screens may not be enough to keep kids from falling, so you may want to install guards that have quick-release mechanisms. Also, don’t place furniture near windows where children can climb up.

Bubbling Up

Poisoning is a very serious and fatal hazard, and 90% of cases happen inside the home. Not surprisingly, it is the second top cause of deaths at home. Not all poisonous substances are fatal though, they can cause different health problems. Here are the top poisonous substances ingested or inhaled by kids under age 5:

  • Household products
  • Beauty products
  • Prescription medicine, vitamin supplements
  • Plants
  • Carbon monoxide and lead

As a parent, here are some tips on what you can do to prevent your children from getting poisoned:

  • Be aware. Know more about the substances in your home. If possible, find out what properties and poisonous components are present in these items. Common products include cosmetics, furniture polish, dishwashing agents, fertilizer and other gardening products.
  • Go child-safe. When you go shopping, choose products that come with child-proof lids as much as you can.
  • It’s all about location. Don’t store harmful substances where kids can easily reach them and grab them. Don’t keep medicine in drawers, purses, or pockets of your clothes. Don’t change their containers, either. Placing medicine and other products in food containers can be dangerous, especially if you don’t know what the substance or pill looks like.
  • Keep an eye on them. It’s impossible to always keep your eyes on your kids, but it wouldn’t hurt to make an effort. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that poisoning accidents usually take place when parents are busy with chores (cleaning or cooking) even when they are at home.
  • Hold off on the science. When using chemical products, if you must, open a window or turn the exhaust on. Also - for whatever reason - never mix cleaning products or other chemical substances together - if the packaging tells you not to. For instance, ammonia and bleach combined can create a toxic gas.
  • Know the poison control hotline number. Post the number on the fridge or next to the phone. Better yet, keep it on speed dial. The number is: (800) 222-1222.

Knives are for Cooking

Third on our list are the dangers that come from kitchen knives, along with other sharp objects in the house. Here’s one tip that may seem a little odd, though: choose knives that are sharp all the time. Dull-edged knives require a whole lot of pressure, while sharp knives require less, so if you use sharp knives, it’s less likely for you to slip your grip and cut yourself. Here are other tips about knife safety:

  • There’s a right way to cut. Depending on the cutting job at hand, you should only use the right type and size of knife. Case in point: small knives are ideal for vegetables. Long knives are ideal for carving meat. Also, when cutting or chopping, never hold anything else in your hand - and always use a big cutting board.
  • Keep your eyes on the prize. With kids running around and tasting everything on the counter, you can get so easily distracted. Having a TV on and phones ringing can also shift your focus elsewhere, which of course, renders you more likely to cut yourself.
  • Don’t catch falling knives. We know you’ve got some great reflexes, but if it’s a knife that’s falling off the table, never attempt to catch it. Move away and let it fall. It should only take a second, then pick it up off the floor.
  • Be wary of the work area. When cooking, you can put down a knife here and the next thing you know it’s covered by a lid, or a towel or a piece of napkin. Not seeing knives can easily end up in cuts and injury. As soon as you finish using it, go ahead and clean and dry it and put it away where everyone can see it safely. For knife storage, use knife blocks instead of drawers.

These are the top three causes of home accidents. When things like these happen, it’s best to keep your composure and think clearly. Locate the first aid kit and mend the wounds. If the injury is severe, call 911. But above all, prevention (using these tips above) is always better than cure.

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