Written by Dr. Funmi Bello
Paying attention to trivial details in the home can be life saving. It is imperative to know how to keep the home environment safe for every member of the family. Rails and grab bars, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, carbon monoxide detectors, child safety devices, etc, all play a role in making the house safe.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 11,000 people die from preventable, unintentional injuries within the home every year. Also, from a study carried out in New Zealand by Pauline Gulliver et al., the rate of death from an injury sustained at home between 1989 and 1998 was 13 per 100,000 population per year. The main causes of death were suffocation, submersion, homicide and fire. The rate of hospitalization in children aged 0-4 years from an injury sustained in the home between 1989 and 2000 was 737 per 100,000 population per year. The most frequently recorded causes of hospitalization were falls, scalds, poisonings and cut/piercing incidents. The relevance of maintaining safety in the house can therefore not be overemphasized.
In a house with elderlies, rails and grab bars can be real life savers. The rails should be placed on every staircase in the house as a support for elderlies to prevent ghastly falls, although it is better for elderlies to live in homes without stairs, but if it is inevitable, then rails are suggested. Staircases can also be blocked with safety gates in homes with “little explorers” (young children), to prevent them from exploring the stairs unsupervised.
Grab bars can be installed in the bathrooms to reduce the chances of slipping on a slippery floor, doors to the bathroom should also be locked to prevent toddlers from wandering in and slipping on the wet floor.
CUTS AND POISONING
Sharp objects and potentially poisonous substances (drugs, petrol, soap etc ) should be kept out of reach of children, they should be kept in drawers which cannot be easily accessed by children. It is also important to remember not to put harmful substances in familiar containers, for example, putting kerosene in a Lacasera bottle, as this can be misleading to a child.
BURNS AND SUFFOCATION
Installing a smoke detector couldn’t be more valuable during this period, as it is “not novel” to us that one of the symptoms of the ”novel virus” (COVID 19) is a loss of smell. So if you go to bed forgetting to turn the gas off and that pot of rice catches fire, the smoke detector will be there to rouse you up from sleep even if you didn’t smell that burning rice! Also remember to have that fire extinguisher nearby to put out little fires that start up in the kitchen.
We should also bear in mind not to put hot substances, like boiling water, within reach of children. When using an electric kettle, the kettle shouldn’t be placed on the floor but should be placed on a high slab which a child will find difficult to reach.
CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING
One of the home hazards in recent time is carbon monoxide poisoning, which can result from a leak from generators, grills, furnaces. Being a colourless and odourless gas, it might be difficult to detect, it is therefore necessary to have a carbon monoxide detector in all homes.
With all these safety measures in place, it is also important to maintain good habits individually. We shouldn’t leave clutters of toys or other objects on the floor, we should always mop the floor when water spills, we should always put an eye out for that toddler crawling around and we should be generally conscious of our environment, so whenever anything looks amiss, we fix it!