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Safety For The Whole House

Every year about 30,000 fatal accidents occur in people’s homes, tragic events that were largely preventable. Making your home accident-proof isn’t hard. It just takes a bit of time and some light handyman work.

You can also prevent many accidents simply by being aware of every home’s seven danger zones:

(1) the bathroom where floors can be slippery, water can scald, and the close proximity of water to appliances can lead to electrical shock;

(2) stairs where slipping and tripping are common;

(3) windows and glass doors that can be mistaken for exits or fallen out of;

(4) kitchens where open drawers with sharp corners poke eyes and flames from stoves can burn;

(5) fireplaces from which embers escape or flues back up;

(6) basements or utility rooms where many people store combustible materials; and

(7) home workshops that house power tools, blades and other potentially dangerous equipment.

To make sure yours is a home-safe-home, review the following safety checklist:

_Stairwells, stoops and steps. Tack down loose carpeting, augment dim lighting and bolt handrails to walls with long screws.

_Exterior walkways and steps. If painted, repaint with a nonslip additive that prevents slipping or affix with nonslip strips.

_Electric garage door. Test periodically to make sure the safety stop mechanism is operational.

_Fire escapes. Scrape off any corrosion, remove any clutter and ensure the ladders are in working order.

_Free-standing furniture. Secure bookshelves and storage units to walls with angled brackets, screws or bolts.

_Gas and water cutoff valves. Know how to close them; use tags to identify each, if necessary.

_Heating and water system. Have the vent stacks professionally checked annually to prevent toxic gases from entering the home.

_Water heater. Set temperature at or below 120 F.; test highest temperature in running water with meat thermometer. Alternatively, install an anti-scald device on faucets and showerheads.

_Clothes dryer. Make sure it vents directly outside, not through chimney flue, as lint is combustible and the fumes can be toxic.

_Radiators. Cover with a frame that is not touching the unit.

_Steam irons. Always unplug before filling with water.

_Toasters. Avoid toasting sugarcoated or filled pastries because the sugar can ooze, gumming up the inside and causing a fire.

_All appliances. Check to make sure they have UL listings, which guarantee the product meets safety standards. And make sure electrical appliances are not next to heating equipment.

_Light switches. Relocate any that are within reaching distance of a tub or shower.

_Electrical cords and plugs. Replace any worn piece, as they cause many household fires. Keep out of high traffic areas where they can trip children and adults. And never run under carpeting or rugs.

_Extension cords. Avoid using. If necessary, use cords with the same or greater wattage/amperage than the appliance. Never run under carpeting or rugs.

_Electrical panel box. Ensure there’s a main disconnect to cut off all power in case of a fire. Also, properly mark all circuit breakers.

_Gas grills. Check the propane tank for leaks by spraying liquid soap around the fittings. If the soap bubbles, there’s a leak.

_Fire extinguishers. Have at least two dry-chemical extinguishers, mount near kitchen and bedrooms, check pressure gauge at least twice a year.

_Smoke alarms. Test every six months.

_Medicines. Separate external and internal medications and discard outdated ones.

_Kitchen knives. Store in blocks, not loose in drawers where blades are exposed.

_Stove tops. Cook on back burners when possible.

_Indoor locks. Make sure all locks can be opened from the outside in case of emergency.

You may want to print this list.

—adapted from Family Circle

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