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Staying safe at home

Carbon monoxide safety; Electrical safety; Furnace safety; Gas appliance safety; Water heater safety

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Description

Like most people, you probably feel most secure when you are at home. But there are hidden hazards lurking even at home. Falls and fires top the list of avoidable threats to your health.

Have you taken steps to make your home as safe as it can be? Use this checklist to uncover potential problems.

General Safety Advice

You should:

Avoiding Falls

Falls are one of the most common causes of injury in the home. To prevent them:

Fire Safety

Learn fire safety inside the home and outside the home:

If you use a fireplace or a wood stove:

Carbon Monoxide Safety

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas you cannot see, smell, or taste. Exhaust fumes from cars and trucks, stoves, gas ranges, and heating systems contain CO. This gas can build up in closed spaces where fresh air cannot get in. Breathing too much CO can make you very ill and can be deadly. To prevent CO poisoning in your home:

Electrical Safety

All electrical outlets near water should be protected by Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI). They are required in unfinished basements, garages, outdoors, and anywhere near a sink. They interrupt the electrical circuit if someone comes in contact with electrical energy. This prevents a dangerous electrical shock.

You should also:

Make sure electric outlets are safe for children. Add outlet plugs or covers that prevent children from sticking items into the receptacle. Move furniture in front of plugs to prevent them from being pulled out.

Appliance Safety

Make sure that all of your household appliances are in good working condition. Check that all of your electrical appliances, cords, and tools have been tested by an independent testing laboratory, such as UL or ETL.

Gas appliances:

Furnace:

Water heater:

Dryer:

Bathroom

Bathroom safety is particularly important for older adults and children. General tips include:

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Home and recreational safety. www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/index.html. Updated December 20, 2019. Accessed January 23, 2020.

National Fire Protection Association website. Carbon monoxide safety tips. www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Fire-and-life-safety-equipment/Carbon-monoxide. Accessed January 23, 2020.

US Consumer Product Safety Commission website. Safety education resources. www.cpsc.gov/Safety-Education. Accessed September 17, 2021.

US Fire Administration website. Home is where the heart is: don't let your world go up in smoke. In the kitchen. www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/fief/keep_your_home_safe.pdf. Accessed January 23, 2020.

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Review Date: 1/23/2020  

Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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