With homes being the second most prevalent location for fatal injuries, according to ASecureLife.com, and more than 30,000 deaths occurring at home in the U.S. each year, according to the NCBI, it’s vital that you take steps to prevent injuries — and possibly even save lives — within your home.
While a home safety checklist, along with a disaster escape plan, conducting a fire safety inspection, and doing home fire drills, won’t stop every injury or accidental death, it does represent steps in making your home safer for you and your family. The article below describes dangerous areas in your home and what you can do to make them hazard-free.
Safety checklist items per area
While a safety checklist might seem like a large project, you can make the task easier by breaking it down into more manageable chunks, including organizing your safety checklist by area. The following section details some of the main areas where you can improve the safety of your home.
- Walkways/Stairways: Pay careful attention to areas that see frequent foot traffic, such as steps, stairways, and walkways.
Make sure any walkways and stairways are in good shape. This includes a smooth, stable surface.
If you have elderly family members in your home or the area is steep, make sure that the area has suitable handrails on both sides.
In addition, it is important to have the ability to illuminate stairways from both the top and bottom via light switches.
When it comes to stair treads, make sure they are deep enough to accommodate the whole foot.
Consider installing a ramp in hard-to-access areas for easier access by elderly and handicapped individuals who live in the home.
- Floors: The condition of the flooring in the rest of your home is also important.
When checking the flooring, look for specific elements, such as:
- Is the surface safe?
- Is the surface nonslip?
- Is the carpeting loose or torn?
- Are there any abrupt changes in floor level? If so, is the change well marked?
- Do you have any electrical, telephone, or extensions cords laying across the floor that could present a trip hazard?
- Are there any throw rugs or doormats that could also prevent a slipping hazard?
- Garage/Driveway: The garage and driveway provide a convenient place to park or store items, but you also need to make sure that you keep certain safety factors in mind, including:
- Plenty of space to park
- Easy access to the home’s entrance
- A garage door that opens and closes automatically
- Eliminate any tripping hazards on the garage floor
- Windows and doors: The condition of your windows and doors make the difference between getting out of your home quickly during an emergency or getting trapped inside.
When examining your windows and doors, look for the following:
- Windows and doors that easily open and close
- Easy-to-operate locks that work properly
- Doorways wide enough to easily accommodate a walker or wheelchair
- Room to maneuver when exiting or entering a door
- A view panel set at the right height to look outside before opening
- Kitchen and appliances: The kitchen represents one of the most dangerous rooms in your home, so make sure to keep the following factors in mind when making a safety checklist.
- Do you have enough room to maneuver safely in the room?
- Does the refrigerator and oven open easily?
- Are the stove controls clearly marked? In addition, how hard is it to use the stove’s controls?
- Do the countertops allow you to work at a comfortable height?
- Is there any area where you can work sitting down?
- Do the faucets work properly?
- Do you keep often-used items on high shelves?
- Do you use a stepping stool to reach higher shelves? And if so, is the stool easy to move around?
- Bathrooms: Bathrooms present a unique danger area, as falls within the home occur in this room most often.
When examining your bathroom, keep the following questions in mind when developing your safety checklist.
- Do you use a regular showerhead or a handheld version?
- Is it easy to get out of the shower or tub? (This question might come up when elderly family members live in your house.)
- Do you have a bath or shower seat? (This represents another common question for older family members.)
- Does your bathroom have the appropriate grab bars?
- Is the shower or bathmat properly adhering to the tub’s surface and not sliding around?
- Is you hot water heater set right so as to not scalding or burning?
- Lighting: Using the proper lighting can make sure that darker areas in your home have the proper illumination, helping to prevent injury.
When checking the lighting in your home, keep in mind to look for:
- Lighting that is bright enough to illuminate well-traveled areas. Some of the more common areas where you might need to improve your lighting include the basement, a walk-in closet, and a room with no access to outside light.
- Night lights to help illuminate often-traveled areas after dark, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and hallways.
- Electrical outlets/Switches: Properly working light switches and outlets are a must in any home.
When checking your switches and outlets make sure that you can:
- Easily turn the switch on and off
- Have the proper grounding to prevent electric shock
- Easily accessible switch panels that are in good repair
In addition, make sure all extension and power cords are in good shape. You should replace any frayed or damaged cords.
- Alarms: Alarms can mean the difference between getting out of your house alive in case of a fire and notifying you if you have a home intruder.
Some other factors to keep in mind when it comes to the various alarms in your home include:
- Do you have smoke detectors in the key areas of your home? Experts recommend one on each floor of your home (including the basement), in each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area.
- Do you use carbon monoxide detectors? A carbon monoxide detector can alert you to the presence of this dangerous gas, which is colorless and odorless.
- Does your phone work properly in case you need to notify the authorities?
- Can you hear the doorbell throughout your home in case there is an emergency in the neighborhood?
Developing a home safety checklist can help keep you and your family safe within your home. By paying attention to the factors listed above, you can make your home a safer place to live and hopefully prevent a tragic accident.