We all like to think of home as a place we can truly feel safe. But lurking in your home are dangers that can cause injury or even death. Each year, 18,000 Americans die from injuries at home. For seniors, home injuries can be especially risky. To avoid injury, be aware of these top five causes of home injury deaths:
Falls: Falls are the leading cause of home injury death. According to the CDC, each year, one in every three adults over age 65 experiences a fall. For seniors, falls can be dangerous or even fatal, resulting in lacerations, bone fractures, and head trauma. To limit the risk of falls at home, install grab bars in bathrooms and showers, get rid of trip hazards like piles of newspapers and electrical cords, and make sure corners and stairways are well-lit.
Poisoning: The second leading in-home killer is poisoning. It takes 5,000 lives each year. Most often, accidental fatal poisoning happens from mixing medications — certain combinations can be deadly. Always be sure to talk to your doctor before taking multiple medications at once. It is also good to fill all your prescriptions at one pharmacy so you can review them periodically with the pharmacist who is specially trained to detect drugs that may interact in a harmful way. If you are concerned about poisoning, call the Poison Help hotline at (800) 222-1222. It’s open 24 hours a day.
Fires: Home fires kill more than 3,000 Americans a year. The best way to avoid them is by installing plenty of smoke alarms, and make sure that they’re working. Have a fire extinguisher you know how to operate on every floor I in the house. In addition, everyone should have an emergency fire plan, so you can get yourself and the rest of your family to safety if there is a fire.
Airway obstruction: Airway obstruction includes choking, suffocation, and strangulation. Airway obstruction is a big concern for young children, but can also affect the elderly, who may not have the lung capacity to cough up a blocking object. It’s important that everyone knows how to do the Heimlich maneuver, an emergency technique to prevent suffocation in a person whose airway has become blocked. Visit this National Institute of Health page to learn how to perform the Heimlich.
Drowning: Also mostly a concern for young children, accidental drowning claims 800 lives a year. Small children can drown in just an inch or two of water, so be vigilant about backyard pools and bathtubs when the grandchildren come to visit.
Knowledge is power. By making yourself aware of these common home dangers, you can better protect yourself and your loved ones.