The home is supposed to be a place of safety and refuge. But did you know that most accidents resulting in treatable injuries and deaths take place in the home? It’s true. Perhaps it’s because the elevated level of comfort we experience at home allows us to be more careless. Perhaps we simply don’t recognise the hazards we face at home. In either case, safety at home should be a priority.
To that end, being safe at home begins with following common-sense advice offered by safety experts, civic leaders, and even accident victims themselves. We couple that advice with certain tools that either increase safety or aid in better responding to emergencies.
It is interesting to note that we often fail to appreciate those tools until we actually need them. To illustrate the point, there are five such tools discussed below. How many do you currently have in your home? And in relation to those you do have, how much do you know about their proper use and maintenance?
1. First Aid Kits
A first aid kit seems so basic that every home would have one. But that’s not necessarily the case. Sure, almost all of us keep a few wash-proof plasters, some cleansing wipes, and perhaps a little bit of eyewash on hand. But that may not be enough in the event of a serious accident. Other things might be necessary to render proper first aid during the time it takes for emergency services to arrive.
The great thing about retail first aid kits is that they are easy to come by. You can buy them in brick-and-mortar stores and online. You can get everything from a basic kit up to one that would make any ambulance crew proud. It is really just a matter of making the effort to get one.
2. Smoke and CO Detectors
Though smoke and CO detectors are two separate things, they are often combined when talking about home safety. And why not? They go hand-in-hand. It doesn’t make sense to have smoke detectors but no CO detector, and vice-versa. The thing to remember is that both devices save lives.
Smoke detectors warn of an active fire by sounding the alarm when smoke is present. CO detectors warn of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in the air. Both are crucial to home safety.
If you live in a rental unit, local laws probably stipulate that it has smoke and CO detectors in appropriate locations. You are by yourself if you own the home you live in. Yet even if the law doesn’t require you to have smoke and CO detectors, you should have them anyway.
3. Fire Extinguishers
We do not tend to think of fire extinguishers as necessary in the average home. Rather, we assume they are for commercial spaces only. But consider this: the majority of residential fires that lead to injuries and death are the result of either cooking or careless smoking. Both types of fires can be put out with a fire extinguisher in their early stages.
A good rule of thumb is to have at least one fire extinguisher somewhere in the kitchen. If there are smokers in the home, another fire extinguisher somewhere in the main living space is appropriate. You might want a third in the garage if you store flammable materials there.
Just note that there are different types of fire extinguishers for different types of fires. The all-purpose extinguisher you would use in the kitchen is not appropriate for fighting fires involving flammable liquids in the garage. Get the right type of extinguisher for the risk you are trying to address.
4. Automated External Defibrillators
You would probably be hard-pressed to find a home with its own automated external defibrillator (AED). That notwithstanding, the AED is one of the most effective tools for addressing cardiac arrest in real-time. AEDs work so well that they are starting to turn up in all sorts of public places – from restaurants to concert halls and office buildings.
An AED is a small, portable device that delivers a measured electrical shock designed to restart a stopped heart. The device is automatic in the sense that the user doesn’t have to make any decisions. He or she just attaches the included wires to the victim’s chest as instructed by the enclosed diagram. Then the device is plugged in and left alone. It automatically monitors for a heartbeat. If none is detected, it automatically delivers the life-saving shock.
The beauty of the AED is that it doesn’t require any special training to use. That makes it ideal for any household in which there is an occupant with a history of heart disease. Given that cardiac arrest victims can die within minutes of onset, an AED could mean the difference between saving a life and letting it slip away.
5. Emergency Plans
The last tool is not something you can buy. It is something you develop on your own. What is it? An emergency plan. Actually, you may need more than one plan depending on your circumstances. You might have one plan for escaping your house in the event of a fire. You might have another for dealing with a serious injury.
Emergency plans are essentially strategies for coping with the unexpected. Unfortunately, we human beings have a tendency to think irrationally when under pressure. So without a plan in place, it’s easy to fall to pieces during an emergency. Panic sets in and no one knows what to do. An emergency plan is designed to prevent that sort of thing from happening.
Devising emergency plans is just the start. Such plans work best when they are rehearsed. Take a fire escape plan, for example. Every member of the family should know and understand the plan. Practising it on a regular basis will eventually make the plan second nature. Should a fire ever break out, no one will have to think about what to do. Each family member will already know how to respond.
If nothing else, all of the safety tools discussed in this post demonstrate that safety is no accident. Being safe at home requires a concerted effort. It requires a mindset that understands the risks and strives to mitigate them. Hopefully, this post has given you some good ideas for making your own home safer.