Stair Safety
  • Handrails that don't run the full length of a staircase can be dangerous -- someone may assume that the stairs end where the handrail ends and miss the last step. If necessary, consider extending or replacing the handrail.
  • If stair carpeting becomes loose, fix it immediately. It's very easy to slip on loose carpeting.
  • Be sure not to use throw rugs at the top or bottom of a flight of stairs.
  • If you intend to paint basement stairs, either add a little sand to the paint for a better grip or install rubber or abrasive treads.
  • If the outside of your house is not well lit, paint the edges of outside steps white so that they are easier to see in the dark or install outdoor lighting.

Home accidents are one of the leading causes of death among children and injuries among adults. In many cases, these accidents could have been avoided by taking simple precautions. You always want to make sure to check your house -- and your habits -- to ensure that your home isn't a danger zone.

In this article, we'll give you a series of tips that could ward off disaster. We'll start in this section with general guidelines and then move on to pesticides, which can be an accident waiting to happen if not used properly.

Here are the general guidelines:

  • Wipe up spilled water, grease, and other liquids from your kitchen, bathroom, and garage floors as soon as possible to avoid slips.

  • Secure rugs with nonskid pads or slip-resistant backing. You can also use double-face adhesive carpet tape to keep them in place.

  • Don't put hot tea, coffee, or other hot liquids on a tablecloth that hangs over the side of the table. Someone could trip on the cloth and spill the scalding liquid.

  • Never keep a loaded gun in the house; store ammunition and weaponry separately.

  • If an elderly person or someone who is unsteady on his or her feet lives in your home, install grab bars in bathtubs or showers. A stool with nonskid tips can be used as a seat while showering.

    Install grab bars in tubs and showers for someone who is unsteady on his feet.
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Install grab bars in tubs or showers to aid
    someone who is unsteady on his feet.

  • Choose a step stool with a hand-rail to hold when standing on the top step. Always make sure the step stool is fully open and steady before climbing it.

  • Elderly people and children are often at risk of burns from scalding water. By setting the hot-water heater below 120 degrees Fahrenheit, you can avoid this risk. If your hot-water heater does not have a thermostat, use a thermometer to check the water at the faucet.

  • Never place an electric appliance where it can fall in water.

  • Never touch an electric appliance while you are standing in water.

  • Don't place electric heaters near combustible materials.

  • Do you use your basement or garage as a general storage area? If so, there are probably many things you can trip over, including tools and sharp or pointed objects. Look at these areas with an eye toward accident prevention, and remove or rearrange any objects that are potential hazards.

  • Never remove the guards from your power tools. Tools used with the guards removed pose a serious risk of injury.
Pesiticides pose their own accident risks in the home. In the next section we'll cover how to minimize those risks.