Prepare Your Home for Out-of-Town Guests

Home Safety Council urges families to take steps to make homes safer

Posted: Thursday, December 01, 2005
More than 50 million Americans traveled during the 2004 holiday season. As holiday hosts prepare to welcome visitors into their homes this season, the nonprofit Home Safety Council is urging families to conduct a home safety walk-through to help prevent home accidents and create a safer environment for their guests.

Falls are the leading cause of unintentional home injury, and a recent Home Safety Council survey found that falls are among the most common injuries suffered by guests. In fact, 80 percent of those who reported that an injury occurred while visiting another person's home said they had suffered a fall.

The Home Safety Council recommends that hosts find and fix potential home dangers while they are preparing for the holidays. Once guests arrive, take time to review critical safety precautions and practices with them.

"Holiday gatherings should be memorable for the happiness they bring; not for a holiday injury," said Meri-K Appy, president of the Home Safety Council. "Basic home safety precautions can help minimize the risk of a serious injury. It's a good idea to pay special attention if very young children or older adults will be visiting your home, because they are at greatest risk of suffering a home injury."

Do a holiday home safety walk-through

Home Safety Council research shows that falls, poisonings, fires/burns, suffocations and drownings are the leading causes of unintentional home injury-related death in America. These preventable injuries cause more than 20,000 deaths and 21 million medical visits on average each year. To keep your holiday gatherings injury-free, consider using the Council's checklist to help create a safer holiday home:

* Check the lights over all the stairways, hallways, porches and entries to ensure all bulbs are working and bright enough to illuminate the entire area below. Use the maximum safe wattage, which is printed inside the fixture.

* If tubs and showers don't already have non-stick strips or mats, install them now.

* Attach a sturdy grab-bar on the edge of the tub. Place nightlights inside bathrooms and/or hallways leading to them.

* If your guests will include toddlers, purchase safety gates and place them at the tops and bottoms of stairways. Cover open electrical receptacles with child-safety plugs.

* If you have an attached garage and/or fuel-burning heating equipment or appliances, your home should have a carbon monoxide (CO) detector installed to protect sleeping areas.

* Post the local and national poison control hotline telephone number, as well as local emergency numbers, near every telephone. The National Poison Control Hotline is 1-800-222-1222.

* To guard against curious children, make sure all medications, household cleaners, toiletries and other dangerous products are in original containers with child-proof closures and locked in a high cabinet, out of reach. Lock up candles, matches and lighters as well. Remember to keep purses, backpacks and luggage out of children's reach.

* Every home must have working smoke alarms installed on each level and protecting all the places people will be sleeping. Before guests arrive, test every smoke alarm and replace any missing or dead batteries. Every home should have a fire escape plan as well.

* Prevent scalds by turning your water heater temperature down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or less.

* When toddlers are visiting, use toilet seat locks to prevent drowning. Be aware that buckets, spas, tubs, and all standing water are a serious drowning risk for early walkers.

* Make guest rooms safe as well as welcoming. Place a nightlight inside each bedroom and the hallway outside it. Provide each guest with a working flashlight. If possible, place a telephone in each guest room as well.

* When guests arrive, walk through your home fire escape plan, pointing out primary and secondary exits and the outside meeting place. Also point out where emergency numbers are posted.

For additional free resources to help you stay safe in and around your home, please visit http://www.homesafetycouncil.org.

The Home Safety Council (HSC) is the only national nonprofit organization solely dedicated to preventing home-related injuries that result in nearly 20,000 deaths and 21 million medical visits each year. Through national programs, partnerships and the support of volunteers, HSC educates people of all ages to keep them safer in and around their homes. The Home Safety Council is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization located in Washington, DC.

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