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Common Home Injuries and How to Prevent Them

In this guide, we will look at five of the most common home injuries and show you how to prevent them. With the right knowledge and preparation, you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

By
JJ Watt, Partner
4-minute read

All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own health provider. Please consult a licensed health professional for all individual questions and issues. In an emergency, contact 911.

You should always feel safe and sound at home, but accidents happen. Every day people visit the emergency department for home injuries. Although there are many cases in which we simply can't control what happens, home accidents are extremely preventable with the right measures. In this guide, we will look at five of the most common home injuries and show you how to prevent them. With the right knowledge and preparation, you can protect yourself and your loved ones.

Falls

Falls are the leading cause of injury among the elderly, but senior citizens aren't the only ones who are hurt by slips and falls at home. Children and adults both experience fall injuries that can range from mild bruises to broken bones and, in severe cases, head trauma. The best way to go about preventing this is to first examine the potential fall risks indoors and around your home's exterior. Inside, falls typically occur on stairs or slippery floors, namely tile and stone. Additional risks include throw rugs, loose cords, poor lighting and toilets that are too low to the ground. 

Outside, sloped driveways and walkways can be major fall hazards, especially during the winter when ice and snow make paths slicker. To prevent falls, consider installing non-slip runners along stairs, improving support rails and modifying anything that has an uncomfortable height. You may also consider installing a personal lift. Utilizing home lifts not only raise your property value but also provide a safer way to move between levels. This can be helpful at preventing falls from moving objects between floors, such as groceries and laundry.

Burns

Burns may come from stoves, hot water or beverage spills. Children under the age of 5 have a high risk of grabbing cups or containers of hot liquids. Left alone, they may turn on faucets to scalding temperatures. This is why they should never be left unattended when they have access to running water of any sort.

You can install a temperature control gauge on your home's water boiler to prevent any water from reaching dangerous temperatures.

Around the house, make sure that hair straighteners, irons and similar items are always put away safely after use. Be mindful while cooking, and always use heat resistant oven mitts when removing trays from the oven.

Sprains

Falls can cause sprains, but even minor trips can result in a painful injury. A sprain occurs when someone's ligament is twisted or torn. Ligaments are connective tissue affixed to the bone, which support joints and give them flexibility. By assessing fall risks and addressing them, you also decrease the risk of sprains. To go a step further, you should always avoid running indoors or in unsafe areas and ensure that your home is well lit. This prevents the stumbling twists that can often result in injury.

If you or a family member do experience a sprain, keep the affected area elevated and use an ice pack to reduce inflammation.

Blunt trauma from falling objects

Whether it's a picture frame or dishes, anything can fall and hurt someone. Children are likely to tug on tablecloths or pull objects off of high surfaces, especially if they are connected by a wire that's within their grasp. Avoid this by making sure all electrical wires are concealed. Mount any shelves and test their weight before putting anything on them. You should also avoid ever installing shelving or heavy objects above places people sit or sleep.

Parents should always talk to their little ones about being mindful and never using furniture as a toy.

Bulky furniture, such as dressers and bookcases, should be fixed to the wall. This ensures they will not tip over or collapse onto someone, even if a child pulls on them or tries to climb them. Parents should always talk to their little ones about being mindful and never using furniture as a toy.

Cuts

Cooking cuts are common in kitchens, but deep lacerations can lead to rapid blood loss and loss of consciousness. If you are alone, the first thing you should do is tightly wrap the wound and apply hard pressure to stop the bleeding. Call emergency services immediately and do not attempt to stitch or close the wound yourself. Minor cuts can be treated at home, however. Here's what to do if you're absolutely sure you do not need to seek professional aid:

  • Wrap the wound, elevate it and apply pressure until the bleeding stops.
  • Wash hands and clean the wound with lukewarm tap water. Clean around the area with mild soap, but do not put any soap in the cut itself.
  • Clean a pair of tweezers with rubbing alcohol and use them to remove any glass shard or debris.
  • Apply antibiotic cream to prevent infection.
  • Dress and bandage the wound if it is open. Scrapes can be left to heal naturally, but apply a bandage when going out.
  • If the wound is dirty or you have been exposed to metal, make sure you visit your doctor for a tetanus shot. You should update your shot every five years regardless.
  • Keep an eye out for any signs of infection, which include swelling, skin that is warm or hot, redness, irritation and drainage.

Choking

One of the scariest things to witness is a loved one choking. You know you only have minutes to help them, but you may be at a loss on how to react. Avoid letting fear stop you from saving their life by first learning the Heimlich maneuver for infants, children and adults. You can also perform this move on yourself by placing a fist slightly above your navel and grasping it with your other hand. Bend over a hard surface and thrust hard in and upwards.

For choking adults, try the five-and-five approach. Apply five hard blows to the back, between the shoulder blades, and follow with five abdominal thrusts. Adults tend to choke most often on food, which can be prevented by chewing thoroughly, eating small pieces and avoiding talking or laughing while eating. This prevents the sharp inhalation of air that often lodges the food in the throat. For children, the same advice applies, but you should also ensure they have no access to small objects, even toy parts, that they may place in their mouths.