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Safety Tips for Homeowners

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by Jim Neidner

Jim Neidner is a national award-winning
builder/remodeler and radio home host.


We all want our home to be our castle; however, it can also be a castle where we can get hurt. More than three million Americans are injured and over 20,000 others die in the United States each year as a result of accidents in the home. The vast majority of these accidents are caused by carelessness.

Accidents can happen when people use tables and chairs as ladders, misuse kitchen appliances, and leave objects on stairways that others can trip over. Many accidents occur outside the home as well. How often have you heard of people injuring themselves while mowing the lawn or tripping over a rake? These are needless accidents, preventable by using care and common sense.

I lost a very close friend several years ago when he fell off his ladder while coming down from the roof. Falls are the largest single cause of home accidents.

A place for everything, and everything in its place! Outside organizing: Create storage areas in your garage or shed and hang up rakes and other garden tools and implements in the garage or shed so no one will trip over them in the yard. Inside organizing: Have shelving or toy boxes installed in the kid's rooms and make sure all toys are put away, and not left on stairs or in dark hallways.

Gates at the top of a stairway can keep small children from falling down a stairway. Railings and banisters can prevent the elderly from falls. If you have small children and upstairs open rooms over looking the first floor with rails, consider Plexiglas anchor to the adjoining walls and attached to the rails so the small children can’t climb over the handrails. Plexiglas comes in 4’x 8’sheets and can be cut with a table saw or a utility knife. Pre-drill the holes for attachment.

Small rugs on polished floors should have a rubber backing or be fastened down to prevent sliding. A rubber mat or handgrip will help prevent slipping in a bathtub.

Keep a small folding ladder in the kitchen for reaching items high-up in cupboards. Do not use a chair.

Most burns occur in the home. Burns and scalds are among the most common injuries to children. Many result from careless use of kitchen equipment. Turn handles of pans away from the edge of a stove, especially if small children are present. When cooking with deep fat, stand back from the stove to avoid spattering grease.

Careless smoking accounts for about 25 percent of the fires that occur in one and two family homes, and about 30% percent of the fires that occur in apartments. Be sure to install smoke detectors at strategic locations. Check the test mode often to make sure they are working properly and keep batteries on hand.

Don’t forget to have your fireplace cleaned after burning 1- cords of wood to prevent chimney flue fires. Invest in a good carbon monoxide detector and if you use gas furnaces have it checked at least once every other year for cracked heat exchanger or malfunctions.

E-coli bacteria can be transferred from the sponges we use wiping our counter tops. Think of all the things you wipe off the counters and floors and then just rinse them out. Get in the habit of placing your counter top rags, meat boards and sponges into your dishwasher for sterilization.

Walk through a fire drill inside your home with the elderly and small children. Explain if a fire should break out in your home, crawl-do not walk-to the nearest exit. Explain smoke rises and is more easily inhaled if you’re standing. If clothing catches on fire, roll in order to smother the flames. Show everyone two ways to get out of every room.

One of my guests, on my radio show in Houston, was the inventor of a fire preventive product that will withstand 3,500 degrees. It’s user friendly and will not hurt your health in anyway. This product can be applied to anything porous, like paper, couches, wood, and children’s clothing, and they will not burn. There are products out today that can literally save our lives. We just need to do our homework.

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