Check your home for safety hazards

January has past . . . did you ever make any New Year’s resolutions?
Well, how about practising safety for starters! And I bet if you look hard enough, you will find hazards in and outside your home.
Most home hazards can be prevented by inspection and correction. And in fact, members of every household should conduct home hazard checks periodically.
Here is a guideline and sample of safety habits to practise and some home hazards to look for. I am sure you can add to the list (everything possible is not included).
•Emergency phone numbers: are they posted near the telephone?
•Motor vehicle safety:
–everyone wears a seat belt when travelling; and
–car seats are installed in the back seat of the vehicle, and tether straps are installed to prevent movement of the seat.
A Transport Canada 1992 statistic revealed that four out of 10 Canadian children are either not buckled in their car-seat or safety belts while the vehicle is in transit, or the restraints are the wrong size or improperly installed.
•Fire/burn prevention:
–smoke alarms are installed and maintained on every level of the home and cottage, outside sleeping areas, and inside the bedrooms;
–smoke alarms are tested weekly by pushing the test button;
–smoke alarms batteries are changed in the spring and fall, or when needed;
–smoke alarms are gently vacuumed every six months;
–a home escape plan is in place, with two ways out of each room and a meeting place outside;
–matches/lighters are stored out of reach and sight of children;
–there is a barrier around fireplaces and woodstoves;
–you cook on the back burner, and turn handles in so pots can’t be pulled or knocked off the stove;
–combustibles are at least three feet from the stove and heating equipment at all times;
–water temperature of the water heater is set no higher than 49°C (120°F);
–electrical appliances like the coffee maker are unplugged after use;
–irons and curling irons are unplugged after use;
–candles are extinguished and poppouri pots are unplugged before going to bed, work/school, outside, etc.;
–stoves, ovens, and crock pots are shut off before going to bed, work/school, or out;
–a fire extinguisher is present in the home and you know how to use it;
–gasoline is never stored in the home or even in an attached garage; and
–electrical outlets are covered by protective covers if children are present.
Fire is a widespread tragedy in Canada. Each year, it kills more than 450 people and injuries more than 3,500 others. Children are particularly vulnerable to fire (fires are the number-one cause of injury-related death of the home for children under the age of five).
It is estimated that more than one-third of children died in fires started by themselves or by other children.
Children and fire are a deadly combination but many parents, teachers, and other adults gravely underestimate this problem.
•Choking, suffocation, and strangulation prevention:
–your baby crib is built after 1986, which means the bars are well spaced to prevent strangulation;
–blind and drapery cords are cut and secured with cord wind-up, and are out of reach of children;
–non-food items such as coins, balloons, marbles, and buttons are kept away from young children;
–clothing drawstrings, ribbons, necklaces, neckties, and rope are kept away from young children;
–children remain seated when chewing food;
–plastic bags are kept away from young children; and
–keep that innocent container of baby powder out of sight and reach of young children.
Small, round food such as hotdogs, croutons, candies, nuts, grapes, marshmallows, and popcorn are some of the foods children have been known to choke on.
Health Canada has stated that each year almost 100 young children in Canada die as a result of suffocation or choking. Two-thirds do so as a result of suffocation that have mechanical cause, such as small object, or strangulation by ropes or chords.
One-third die as a result of choking on food.
•Poisoning prevention:
–medicines and vitamins are out of sight and reach of young children (preferably locked away);
–household cleaners are locked away; and
–avoid taking medicines in front of children, and never refer to medicines as candy in front of them.
Children are at greater risk from poisoning deaths and exposure than adults because they are smaller, have faster metabolic rates, and are less able to physically handle toxic chemical.
Their natural curiosity and desire to put everything in their mouths increases their poisoning risk.
•Fall prevention:
–heavy items, like a television, bookcase, tool chest, etc., are secured to prevent it from falling;
–non-skid mats or strips are in the bathtub;
–stairs are kept clear of toys and other items that could cause someone to slip; and
–when using a ladder, it is secured and someone holding it at the base.
•Firearms injury prevention:
–all firearms (guns) are unloaded and locked away from the sight and reach of children; and
–bullets are stored in a separate, locked place.
•Water safety:
–when swimming in a pool, children always swim with a buddy and are always supervised by an adult;
–young children are never, ever, left alone in the bathtub;
–buckets of water are disposed of immediately after use; and
–when ice fishing, young children are always supervised and you realize a small child can fall through a 8”-10” drilled hole.
Childhood drowning and near-drowning can happen in a matter of seconds, and typically occur when a child is left unattended or during a brief lapse in supervision. Small children can even drown in a bucket of water!
Ice seldom freezers or thaws at a uniform rate. It can be a foot thick (30 cm) in one spot while only an inch thick (two cm) just 10 feet away.
Fact: If you never need what you learn about personal safety . . . you have lost nothing. If you never learn what you need, you may lose everything . . . your family and your life!

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