The Practical Prepper
If you think about it, improving your safety is a part of being prepared. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), June is National Safety Month. In addition, the former Home Safety Council (now part of Safe Kids Worldwide) had also named June Home Safety Month and they encourage people to consider home danger areas and take some simple steps to minimize their risk from potential injuries, or even death. Below are some key areas to consider this month and some tips for improving safety.
This is the main focus of The Practical Prepper weekly blog here on Farm Dreams, as well as regular topic on our Self-Reliant Info blog. There's much information on both sites about prepping, but here's a basic recap of the minimum:
- Get, and stay, informed: Investigate the types of disasters that may occur where you live and the appropriate ways in which to respond to them. Discuss your findings with your family, so that everyone know what to expect and how to respond.
- Have a communication plan: Talk to your family about communicating in a disaster, especially what to do if an emergency happens when you are separated and away from home, such as at school or work.
- Maintain a 72-hour kit: A family disaster supply kit should have enough supplies in it for at least 72 hours (3 days) for each member of the family (including pets!).
According to the NSC Injury Facts 2011, falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States, accounting for approximately 8.9 million visits to the emergency department annually. Here are some tips to prevent falls around your home:
- Clean up all spills immediately
- Ensure stairs, steps, and landings are brightly lit.
- Have secure grab bars in the tub and shower.
- If you have babies in your home, use baby gates at the top and bottom of the stairs.
- Install handrails for stairs and steps (preferably on both sides).
- Periodically check the condition of walkways and steps, and repair any damage immediately
- Remove small throw rugs or use rug grippers to keep them from slipping
- Remove tripping hazards (paper, boxes, toys, clothes, shoes) from stairs and walkways
- Secure electrical and phone cords out of traffic areas
- Use an appropriate platform (step stool, ladder, scaffold) for climbing instead of a stool or furniture.
The NSC says that in 2008, poison control centers reported receiving calls about 2.5 million human poison exposure cases. The most common poisons include prescription and over-the-counter medications, cleaning products and personal care products. Eighty percent of incidents occur when a child eats or swallows over-the-counter and prescription medicines when an adult wasn't watching.
- Put the poison control number, 1-800-222-1222, on or near every home telephone and save it on your cell phone. If someone takes poison, this number will connect you to emergency help in your area.
- Keep all cleaners in their original containers and do not mix them together.
- Lock poisons, cleaners, medications, and all dangerous items in a place where children can’t reach them.
- Store medicines and vitamins up and away, out of reach and out of sight of young children.
- Put medicines and vitamins away every time you use them.
- Use medications carefully. Be sure to read and follow the labeled directions. Use child-resistant lids when you have children around.
- Ask houseguests and visitors to keep purses, bags or coats that have medicines in them up and away and out of sight when they are in your home.
Prevent Fires & Burns
Fires are more likely to happen in certain areas or around particular equipment in your house. Be extra careful while you're cooking, smoking, around candles, furnaces, electrical cords, and fireplaces, especially with children around. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, cooking equipment (most often a range or a stovetop) is the leading cause of reported fires and fire injuries in the home. Fortunately, there are things you and your family can do to protect yourselves:
- Plan a family escape route and hold fire drills.
- Have working smoke alarms throughout the house.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors near sleeping areas.
- If you build a new home, install water sprinklers.
- Learn how to use your fire extinguisher.
- If you must smoke, do it outside (quitting altogether is better and cheaper). Use deep ashtrays and don't leave cigars or cigarettes unattended while lit. Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children.
- Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn. Turn them off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Only light candles with adult supervision around. Blow the candle out if you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Stay by the stove when cooking, especially when you are frying food.
Prevent Choking and Suffocation
According to the NSC, choking and suffocation is the third leading cause of home and community death in the United States. Food is responsible for most choking incidents, but children often choke on small objects such as small toys, coins, nuts, or marbles. Although choking can occur in people of all ages, children under the age of three are particularly vulnerable. Older adults also have an increased risk of choking on food. Here are thing you can do to avoid choking and other suffocation-related issues:
- Refrain from laughing or talking while eating.
- Chew foods slowly, especially if you wear dentures.
- Cut food into bite-size pieces.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol before and during meals.
- Give children small amounts of food at a time.
- Have children sit while eating, no moving or running around.
- Keep hard candy away from children.
- Things that can fit through a toilet paper tube can cause a young child to choke. Keep coins, latex balloons, and hard round foods, such as peanuts and hard candy, out of children’s reach.
- Read the labels on all toys, especially if they have small parts. Be sure that your child is old enough to play with them.
- Place children to bed on their backs. Don’t put pillows, comforters or toys in the crib.
- Clip the loops in window cords and place them up high where children can’t get them.
Be Smart Around Water
Per the NSC, drowning is the seventh leading cause of injury deaths for all ages and the second leading cause of death in children aged 1-14. Keep safe around water with the following safety tips:
- Learn to swim, and also learn lifesaving techniques, including CPR and first aid.
- Put a fence all the way around your pool or spa and keep them covered and locked when not in use.
- Keep rescue equipment by the pool. Be sure a telephone with emergency numbers is easily accessible in the pool area.
- Teach children that pool drains, grates, and filters are not toys and that they should never stick their fingers or toes in these openings or suction devices.
- Always watch children closely, even if a lifeguard is present. Remember that a child can drown in the time it takes to answer the phone.
- Make sure your children always swim with an adult. No child or adult should swim alone.
- Stay out of the water during severe weather and thunderstorms, especially if there’s a possibility of lightning.
- Remember that alcohol and swimming or bathing don’t mix.
- Stay within an arm’s length of children in and around water. This includes bathtubs, toilets, pools and spas — even buckets of water.
- Empty large buckets and wading pools after using them. Keep them upside down when not in use.
- Open toilets are a drowning hazard for children. Keep the lids down and latched when very young children are in your home.
- Keep your hot water tank set at or below 120°F (about 50°C) to prevent burns.
For more information, you may want to check out the NSC's Safety at Home page, which expands on much of the above material. Although the Home Safety Council site is no longer active, Safe Kids has the My Safe Home website which has a room-by-room assessment of dangers and tips to make things safer.
Believing that preparedness and self-reliance are key to individual freedom, Atticus Freeman is the founder of the Self-Reliant Info blog, in addition to authoring The Practical Prepper weekly blog here on Farm Dreams. Thanks for reading!