ⓘ Home safety
Home safety refers to the awareness and education of risks and potential dangers in and around a home which may cause bodily harm, injury, or even death to those residing in and around the physical structure of a home. It includes mitigating or preventing the unwanted dangers through testing, research and accepted standards of applications and practices.
1.1. Most common risks Mold
Molds are microscopic organisms that thrive in damp environments. They can be found on tiles and fabric, in bathrooms and kitchens, nearly any damp, warm place. Molds are usually not a problem indoors, unless mold spores land on a wet or damp spot and begin growing. Allergic reactions to molds are common. Allergic responses include high fever-type symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose, and red eyes.
1.2. Most common risks Home safety practices
Slip and trip- falling accidents at home are very common and can cause serious and life-threatening injuries, so prevention of slip and trip accidents is essential in the good design of living quarters. The objective is especially important for the elderly and disabled, who may be of restricted movement and more susceptible to hazards. It includes of adequate supports such as handrails and balustrades as well as ensuring walking surfaces are of high friction and thus slip resistant. Lighting is also vital for being bright enough to enable the user to see obstacles when walking into a room, for example. Users may also be provided with a walking stick or crutches to aid walking and personal support. Fall prevention is an active form of protection for users.
Radon testing and mitigation – The two types of radon gas testing devices are, passive and active. A person can set up a kit in their home or hire a professional to perform the test. If the test result comes back with high concentrations of radon, there are ways to reduce radon gas and bring it to acceptable levels. There are proven methods to reduce radon in a home or building. One method uses a vent pipe system and fan, which pulls radon from beneath the house and vents it to the outside. This system, known as a soil suction radon reduction system, involves minor changes to your home.
Carbon monoxide detectors – Carbon monoxide CO detectors located in key areas inside the home is a preventative measure against CO poisoning. The gas is created during incomplete combustion in central heating boilers as well as in open fires for example. Chimneys to such devices can become blocked, and so the gas can enter living spaces. Only very low levels are toxic and since the gas is odorless, is a serious hazard. For multi-level homes, it is recommended having a minimum of one carbon monoxide detector per floor. For added protection, put a CO detector in each room and a utility/furnace room.
Toxic mold - Preventative steps include drying water damage and moisture control in the home. Inhaling or touching mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.
Family safety plans – Family safety plans are an essential tool in fire safety because the plan helps family members to identify a fire escape plan. A safety plan includes knowing two ways out of every room, a safe place for members to meet outside of a burning home, and essential emergency telephone numbers. It is important to practice fire escape plans.
Sprinklers – Fire sprinklers offer a layer of protection because the sprinkler can respond to fire while it is still small. Fire sprinklers respond only the sprinkler closest to the heat source. Smoke alone will not set a fire sprinkler to discharge.Fire extinguishers – There are five different classes of fires; A, B, C, D, and K. Class A consists of burning paper, wood, cloth or other combustible solids. Class B consists of liquids and gasses such as propane. Class C fires consist of electrical fires. While class D fires which is less common consists of burning metal and class K fires the most common consists of kitchen type materials, i.e., grease and oil. Fire extinguishers use a variety of substances to put out fires; dry powder, dry chemical, water, halogenated, carbon and foam. Since different substances burn differently, fire extinguishers are labeled and often color-coded according to the type or class of fire they can extinguish. It is, therefore, necessary to choose the correct fire extinguisher for home use. Fire alarms – Fire alarms monitors the environmental changes associated with combustion. Once the alarm has been triggered by fire or smoke, a loud sound emanates to warn of danger and sends a message to a central monitoring center, which then notifies the local fire department. Smoke alarms – Smoke alarms also known as smoke detectors, generally sound an audible and visual alarm. Smoke alarms are usually housed in a disk-shaped plastic enclosure about 6 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick and are often powered by a disposable battery. Heat detectors – Heat detectors are a device that responds to changes in ambient temperature. Heat detectors are not meant to replace smoke detectors. They are often placed in rooms where standard smoke detectors are not suitable, such as laundry rooms, garages, and attics.
Home Fire Escape Plans - Create a fire escape plan with two exits from every room, and conduct practice drills with the entire family at least once every six months. When creating the fire escape plan, draw a layout that shows each room and potential escape route in the home. Explain the escape plan to children and ensure that they recognize the sound of the fire alarm and know to check the door for heat and how to stay low to the ground.
Poison - Always have the number of your local Poison Control Center available and familiarize yourself with what to do in case of poisoning. Know which plants are poisonous and remove them from your home. Keep all medications, including over-the-counter medications secured and out of the reach of children. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.
2. Standards organizations
There are a number of organizations in the United States and other jurisdictions that release or maintain standards on the topic of home safety, including:
- Home Safety Council
- National Fire Safety Council
- United States Environmental Protection Agency
- National Safety Council