home accident prevention: some simple steps to safety

We don't always know when life is going to take a turn for the worst, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do everything we can to prevent accidents in the home.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 31 million visits to the ER in 2011 due to unintentional injuries — many of which could have been prevented.

Your home should be a place of solace for you and your family, not a proverbial booby trap where accidents seem rigged to happen. That's where you, the homeowner, comes in. Here are some useful ways you can help make your place less prone to accidents.

fire safety

Those who've had the unfortunate experience of a house fire know that it doesn't take long for the flames to completely decimate your abode. On top of that, fires are obviously very dangerous to you and your family, so it's a no brainer to practice proper fire prevention in your home.

  • Plan an escape route with your family and practice it regularly (once a month, for example). Be sure to incorporate alternate escape routes, as well, since fires can be unpredictable.
  • Maintain approved smoke alarms on every floor of your house. Purchasing long-life alarms can reduce the likelihood of a maintenance issue. (Plus, safety features like these can get you a discount with some home insurers, like Esurance!)
  • If you smoke cigarettes, smoke them outside.
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children and well out of their reach.
  • While burning candles, make sure they're on a steady surface and aren't too close to furniture, curtains, or other flammable material.
  • Kitchens can be susceptible to fat fires that result from overheating fat while deep-frying. Never leave stovetops or ovens unattended while you're cooking.
  • Make sure all fires in fireplaces are well-guarded and properly ventilated until you safely put them out.

electrical safety

Electrical fires in the home account for about 51,000 fires each year in the U.S., and more than $1 billion worth of property damage, according to Electrical Safety Foundation International. It's a good idea to have a certified contractor come check out your home's electrical installation at least once every 5 years, just to help ensure everything's still wired properly. Here are some other preventive steps.

  • When you purchase electrical equipment (like appliances, for example), look for the FCC Declaration of Conformity, which is a mandatory marking for certain products sold in the U.S., indicating the product's conformity to health, safety, and environmental guidelines. Some home insurers, including Esurance, even offer discounts when you use ENERGY STAR appliances.
  • Never overload an electrical socket.
  • If one of your appliances or electronics is acting up or showing signs of faultiness, stop using it until you can get it properly inspected.
  • Don't use appliances or electronics with damaged or worn flexes. A flex, or flexible cord, connects the appliance to the fixed wiring.
  • If you use electric blankets, have them checked and maintained on a regular basis.
  • Consider installing a residual current device (or RCD) in your home if you don't already have one. These devices are designed to switch off electricity automatically if there's a fault, which could prevent you or your family members from getting a fatal shock of electricity if, say, a live, bare wire, is accidentally touched.

heating safety

In many parts of the country, simply having a heated home during the winter months is an essential safety feature. That makes it all the more important to help ensure your heating equipment is up to snuff.

  • Be aware of the symptoms of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, and install detectors on every level of your home — particularly, near bedrooms.
  • Never block the air vents of any fuel-burning appliance or fireplace.
  • Don't block or rest anything against the outside grilles of a fireplace or appliance.
  • Have your chimney swept once a year at minimum, or more often if you burn wood.
  • Gas flames normally burn blue, so if you see an orange-colored flame coming from your gas burner, it could mean a build-up of carbon monoxide. It's wise to have the appliance inspected as soon as possible, and not use it in the meantime.
  • If you think your home may have a gas leak, open all the windows, turn off the gas supply, and call your gas company.
  • Keep an eye on children when you've got a fire going or have portable heaters in use.

kitchen safety

A lot of great things come out of our kitchens — but accidents can, and do, happen. From kitchen fires, to burns, cuts, and germs, mistakes made in the kitchen result in millions of ER visits every year in the U.S. Luckily, there are plenty of preventive measures you can take to help avoid kitchen chaos.

  • If you have your kids in the kitchen with you, constant supervision is paramount.
  • Keep knives sharp and in a safe place, away from the reach of children.
  • Be careful not to burn yourself or others when boiling water or other liquid. Always be on the lookout for signs of overheating or burning to help prevent fires and other disasters.
  • Always use hand protection when removing potentially hot items from the stovetop, oven, or microwave.
  • Turn stovetop pot handles inward so little ones can't grab them and pull them down.
  • Be sure to store heavier kitchen items on lower-sitting shelves.
  • Spray down your countertops and cutting boards with an antibacterial solution after preparing food on them — every time. This will help prevent cross-contamination.
  • Follow the golden kitchen rule: Wash your hands before, during, and after food prep.

safety with potentially dangerous substances

Accidental poisoning is more common than you might think — with more than 2.1 million human poison exposures reported to various U.S. Poison Control Centers in 2014 alone.

  • Install locking cabinets in your kitchen and bathroom to store cleaners and medicines. Make sure they're out of your child's reach.
  • Also keep cosmetics, perfumes, and essential oils out of your child's sight and reach.
  • Keep medications in their original, clearly-labeled containers. Never give someone else your medication, or take someone else's.
  • Chemicals used in your garden or garage need to be stored securely where children can't see or reach them.
  • Return any unwanted or leftover medications to the pharmacist where they can be destroyed properly.

yard and garden safety

Even in the serenity of your backyard, proper safety precautions need be taken on a regular basis in order to protect you, your family, and even your home itself.

  • If you notice any loose or otherwise compromised tree branches within your yard, make sure to call a licensed contractor to have them cut down and taken away before any outdoor playtime commences.
  • Keep barbecues and portable fire pits away from your house, trees, and fence.
  • If it's not already required in your locale, put up a safety fence around your backyard pool. Even if you don't have kids, you can still be found liable if guests or neighbors hurt themselves on your property.
  • Keep any tools you use in the garage or garden clean and in good repair. Give them a good look before you use them — every time — in case rust or another safety threat presents itself.
  • Store all paint, chemicals, and cleaners far from where kids can see or reach them.
  • Unplug and properly put away any power tools and/or garden tools after using them.

get dependable homeowners insurance you can count on

Though we're confident that following these safety measures will help prevent accidents in your home, we know that unfortunate mishaps often still occur. After all, that's what homeowners insurance is for — right?

Cue Esurance, with policies designed to save you time, money, and hassle on your homeowners insurance. We've got a large suite of coverages built to financially protect you, your family, and your investments — while our wide range of money-saving discounts helps you keep more money in your pocket.

Check out all the perks of joining the Esurance family when you get your quick, free homeowners insurance quote online in just a few minutes, or by giving us a ring at 1-866-439-5633, where we're available at these times.

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