3) Fires and Burns:
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According to the Home Safety Council, residential
fires and burns are the third leading cause of
unintentional home injury deaths and the ninth
leading cause of home injuries resulting in an
emergency department visit.
As with poisonings and falls, the death rate is
highest amongst senior citizens and children under
the age of fiveónoticing a pattern here?
And while you may just be thinking that burns
just come from open flames, a huge percentage of
burns are actually caused by hot water.
Here are a few things that you can do to prevent
fires and burns in your home:
- Most people have their water heater at a
much higher temperature than necessary. If the
temperature is so high that a child (or adult)
can be burned when simply washing his or her
handsóitís on too high. Keep your water heater
at a low temperature of 120 degrees.
- Use the back burners on the stove when
possible. Children canít reach them and thereís
less of a chance of a hot pot getting knocked
off of the stove.
- Keep candles and other open flames out of
reach of children.
- According to Meri-K Appy, the president of
the Home Safety Council, ďCooking mishaps are
the number one cause of fires [and they often
happen] when the cook leaves the stove
unattended or becomes distracted.Ē That said,
stay focused in the kitchen and never walk away
from a pot that is in use.
- Install smoke alarms throughout your home.
Half of the fire related deaths occurred in the
5% of homes that donít have fire alarms.
- Regularly test the batteries in your smoke
alarm to be sure that it works. Of homes that
have smoke alarms, 65% of the homes have
non-working alarms. Most often this is simply
because of a worn out battery.
- Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
- Keep clothes irons and curling irons out of
reach of children and donít balance them
precariously on counters or ironing boards.
Teach children that irons and curling irons can
remain hot even after they have been unplugged.
- Keep space heaters at least three feet away
from flammable things like curtains and
- Regularly clean chimneys and dryer exhausts
as buildup in both can cause fires.
- Donít cook and hold a small baby or child at
the same time.
- Donít eat or drink anything hot while a baby
or small child is sitting on your lap.
What to do if there is a fire?
For kitchen fires: Always keep
the pot lid handy. In the event of a fire, pop the
lid back on the pot (or use a cookie sheet) to
prevent the fire from spreading. Baking soda is also
effective in stopping a fire (it deprives the fire
For whole house fires: Have an
escape plan and discuss it with everyone who lives
there. Choose a meeting spot outside of the home so
that you can meet up and be sure that everyone has
made it out safely.
How to treat a burn
If it is a first-degree burn where only the first
layer of skin has been affected, do the following:
- Apply Honey- Hold it under cool water or place it in cool
water for 10-15 minutes to reduce swelling. Do
not ice it.
- Loosely wrap the wound in a sterile gauze
- Take an over-the-counter pain medication if
For all other burns, call 911 and seek medical
4) Choking and Suffocation:
According to the Home Safety Council, obstructed
airway injuries are the fourth leading cause of
unintentional home injury death in the United
States. In fact, unintentional choking and
suffocation is the leading cause of death for
infants under the age of one.
The three main types of obstructed airway injuries
Suffocation: when the nose and
mouth are obstructed by an external item like a
Because they have limited mobility, infants are at a
huge risk for suffocation. 60% of infant suffocation
occurs in beds and cribs when an infantís face
becomes buried in soft bedding or a pillow or an
adult rolls on top of them.
Choking: when something blocks
the airways internally.
This is usually from bits of food or parts of toys.
Children, who donít always chew their food properly,
are especially at risk for choking on small, round
foods that perfectly block the airway.
Strangulation: when there is
some sort of external compression around the airway
from an object like the chord from a blind.
Children easily get things wrapped around their
necks like drawstrings, ribbons, necklaces, pacifier
strings, and window blind cords. An average of one
child a month dies due to strangulation from a
Children can also easily become strangled by
openings that trap their heads like spaces in
furniture, cribs, playground equipment, and
Here are a few things that you can do to
prevent choking and suffocation in your home:
- Donít place an infant facedown on a soft
surface like a waterbed, comforter, or pillow or
on a mattress that is covered in plastic.
- Keep your infantís crib free of soft items
like blankets, pillows, bumpers, and stuffed
- Purchase a crib mattress that fits snugly
without any spaces on the sides where your baby
can get stuck. Also, make sure that the sheets
fit the mattress snugly and wonít get wrapped
around your babyís head.
- An infant should not sleep in an adultís
bed, especially if adults are in it. Infants
should also not sleep in the same bed as other
- Make sure that crib bars are spaced so that
a child cannot get his or her head stuck
- Infants should also not sleep on couches,
chairs, or other soft surfaces.
- Keep all plastic bags out of reach of
children. That includes shopping bags, sandwich
bags, and dry cleaning bags.
- Keep uninflated balloons out of reach of
young children and dispose of the pieces if they
- Put child resistant locks on any airtight
spaces that a child could climb into like a