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Cures for the Accident-Prone Home


Did You Know...?

  • Home accidents kill one person every 16 minutes and injure one person every four seconds in the U.S.?
  • More than 1.2 million poisonings among children under age five were reported to U.S. poison control centers in 2002?
  • Nearly 40,000 children under age 14 are injured by fires each year?

Home Safety includes preventing unintentional injuries, which include poisoning, fires and burns, choking, drowning, suffocation, strangulation, firearms and falls, and they are all preventable.

What You Can Do
There are many small and easy things you can do to protect your family from injuries in the home, some of which are listed below. Post emergency telephone numbers next to all phones to make it as easy as possible to get help if someone gets hurt.

  • Read warning labels and follow storage directions on household products. Poisonous products can include medicines, cleaning supplies, hair spray and home repair materials.
  • Keep poisonous products out of children’s sight and reach on high shelves. Install child-proof latches on cabinets that do not have locks.
  • Store food and non-food products separately to prevent confusion and protect your family from container contamination and toxic spills.
  • Always choose non-toxic alternatives when possible, and use products with child-resistant caps.
  • Never mix cleaning products together; they may produce dangerous fumes (ammonia and bleach should never be mixed).
  • Install Carbon Monoxide (CO) detectors in your home.
  • Flush expired medicines down the toilet rather than throwing them in the garbage.
  • If it is necessary to use harsh chemicals, use them when children are not at home, or at least are in a different room. Always wear gloves when handling products that could be toxic and follow all manufacturers’ instructions.
Fires and Burns
  • Install smoke detectors on every floor of your home near every bedroom. Test detectors every month and change their batteries every year.
  • Never disable smoke detectors.
  • Develop a family escape plan.
  • Keep matches, lighters and candles out of children’s reach.
  • Never smoke in bed. It is the leading cause of fire-related deaths.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire away from fireplaces, heaters and radiators. Replace frayed electrical wires.
  • Stay in the kitchen while cooking.
  • Turn pot handles toward the inside of the stove so children cannot grab them.
  • Install ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Set water-heater thermostats below 120° F (50° C). Always test the water before bathing yourself or your child.

Drowning, Choking, Suffocation and Strangulation


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  • Never leave children alone near water, including bathtubs, buckets, swimming pools, rivers and the ocean. Learn and practice First Aid and CPR.
  • Use child-proof fencing around all swimming pools and hot-tubs.
  • Avoid toys for children under three years of age that are smaller than two inches long and one inch wide. Toys for young children should never have small or removable parts that could be choked on.
  • Avoid window blinds with looped cords, which may cause strangulation if not stored out of children’s reach.
  • Keep plastic bags and drawstring cords away from children.
Falls and Other Injuries
  • Keep your floors free of anything that may cause tripping, such as toys, shoes or magazines.
  • Use stools, ladders and stepladders carefully.
  • Make sure that your home is well lit.
  • Use guards on windows and safety gates near stairs to keep children from falling.
  • Follow manufacturers’ instructions for storing and using lawn equipment or chemicals.
  • Wear protective gear on eyes and ears when using power tools.
  • Keep sharp or electronic kitchen and bathroom items out of children’s reach. Keep electric appliances away from water.
  • Always keep firearms well secured. Firearms should always be locked, unloaded and stored out of reach. Store ammunition in a separate, locked location.


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HHI is committed to accuracy of content and correcting information that is incomplete or inaccurate. With our broad scope of coverage of healthful indoor environments, and desire to rapidly publish info to benefit the community, mistakes are inevitable. HHI has established an error correction policy to welcome corrections or enhancements to our information. Please help us improve the quality of our content by contacting with corrections or suggestions for improvement. Each contact will receive a respectful reply.

The Healthy House Institute (HHI), a for-profit educational LLC, provides the information on as a free service to the public. The intent is to disseminate accurate, verified and science-based information on creating healthy home environments.


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Cures for the Accident-Prone Home:  Created on February 17th, 2007.  Last Modified on October 16th, 2009


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The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all Americans. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at and



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