22 Safety Items No Home Should Be Without
by Carla Merolla and Laura Coyne from The National Safety Council
According to the National Safety Council, there were 29,500 deaths associated with the home in the year 2000.
Take an inventory of your home safety items so that you can be prepared to battle any emergency. You’ll find that these are all essential to your family’s safety. And, of course, add items to this list depending on your family’s needs.
1. Smoke Detectors
Most fires that claim lives occur at night. Install smoke detectors on every floor and outside each bedroom. Test detectors once a month, and change batteries when you adjust your clocks in the spring and fall.
2. Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide – an odorless, colorless, and tasteless gas – killed 300 people last year and sent thousands more to the hospital. For between $40 and $170 each, place a CO detector outside of your bedrooms.
3. Radon-Detector Kit
Hardware stores carry do-it-yourself radon-detector kits for less than $40. Follow directions carefully, especially regarding the placement and preparation of the room.
4. Night Lights
Simple, inexpensive night lights can prevent late-night falls. Place night lights away from flammable fabrics like bedspreads. Also, look for new night lights with cooler mini-neon bulbs. Most stores also carry state-of-the-art plug-ins that glow in the dark and then fade as day breaks. Be sure you have adequate lighting in all of your rooms.
5. Sensor Lights
Outdoor motion-sensor lights can help you see your way at night and scare off intruders. Usually, you can replace existing light fixtures with sensor lights without additional wiring.
6. Sturdy One-Step Stool
Invest in a sturdy one-step stool to keep on hand when your arms need a boost. Never use chairs or other furniture to reach high places.
7. Rubber Suction Bath Mats/Slip-Resistant Throw Rugs
A suction-type rubber mat or adhesive-backed appliques will keep you steady in the shower stall and buthtub. A nonskid rug outside the tub will prevent slips when you step out. Use slip-resistant rugs throughout your home.
8. Grab Bars
Hold on to a wall grab bar when you get in and out of the tub. If your bathroom doesn’t have grab bars, you can purchase them at most hardware stores. Fasten them with long screws securely into the wall studding – not merely into the plaster, tile or wallboard.
Stairs and steps account for nearly half of all fatal falls in the home. Every set of stairs, whether inside or outside your home, should have sturdy handrails securely mounted on both sides.
10. Deadbolt Locks
Put a deadbolt lock on every entrance to your home. Ask the locksmith for a deadbolt lock that’s pick- and drill-proof. Invest in sturdy doors; a good lock doesn’t serve its purpose on a flimsy door.
Another lock that’s important is one for your gun cabinet. Always lock your gun, if you have one, and lock up your ammunition separately from your gun.
11. Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters
GFCIs stop the “juice” before electricity can leak out and hurt you. Although most new homes come with GFCIs, older homes may not have them. You can replace outlets for $9-$13 each, or you can purchase plug-in or portable GFCIs for about $12-$30 each. Use them throughout your home, especially in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room.
12. Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers have categories for different types of fires. For the home, experts recommend a “BC” or an “ABC” extinguisher. Never purchase or use an “A” extinguisher in your home. These water-based extinguishers can cause flames to splatter or cause shocks in an electrical fire.
13. First-Aid Kit
The kit should include, among other items, antiseptic ointment, bandages and gauze pads in assorted sizes, adhesive tape, cold packs, disposable gloves, hand cleaner, scissors and tweezers, syrup of ipecac and eyewash. Check expiration dates and periodically restock. And educate yourself on how to treat injuries.
Keep flashlights where you can easily get to them in case of power outages and severe weather. Test them regularly. Keep extra batteries close by so that you don’t have to fumble blindly in an emergency.
15. Fire-Safe Window Guards/Safety Glazing
Falls from windows cause death and serious injury to children each year. Don’t rely on screens to prevent falls; they’re only designed to keep bugs out. Never place furniture or beds next to windows where children can climb. Keep windows locked when not in use. If you use window guards, they must have a release mechanism so they can be opened in an emergency. Consult your fire department for proper placement. Children should also practice opening the window in their bedroom so that they know how to escape out of a window. You also may need to purchase an emergency escape ladder for each upper-story bedroom.
Safety glazing prevents windows from shattering into shards of glass. Instead, if broken, the glass forms safe pellets. Look for a permanent mark in the lower corner showing the manufacturer’s name, type of safety glass, and the thickness.
16. Written Family Evacuation Plan
Preparation and practice for all emergencies is vital for all families. Know the fastest way out of your home and how not to become trapped. Your home should include two exits from each room. Practice an evacuation plan with your family before a real emergency hits.
17. Family Disaster Kit
When disaster occurs, grab this kit to take with you. Such a kit would include such essential supplies as nonperishable food, water, cash, flashlights, tools, a battery-operated NOAA all-hazard alert radio, and a first-aid kit. To save time when evacuating, you can store this kit in a car or in an unattached garage.
18. NOAA All-Hazard Alert Radio
This radio will help you in a weather emergency, such as a tornado, hurricane, earthquake or other emergency. You’ll pick up the frequency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which will include instructions on whether to stay in your home, when to evacuate, and the status of the emergency event. You can purchase such a radio at a local electronics store.
19. Posted Emergency Phone Numbers
Your posted list should include the local police and fire departments and your physician. Also include the numbers of friends or relatives as well as your local poison control number. The American Association of Poison Control Centers has established a nationwide number for people to use to reach their local poison control center. It’s 800-222-1222. Post your list by every phone in the house.
20. Tested Appliances
Appliances using gas or electricity should bear the certification mark from a qualified testing organization, such as Underwriters Laboratories, the Canadian Standards Association or the American Gas Association.
21. Personal Protective Equipment
Safety goggles, work gloves, face masks, and hard hats are all must-haves for do-it-yourselfers. Protect yourself when tackling that next home project.
22. Tagged Shutoffs
Know how to shut off valves for gas, oil, water, and your home’s main electrical supply. Tag each valve so you can easily identify the switch in an emergency.
TIERS also offers these items that no home should be without:
Reflective Signs: Mark your house clearly to insure fast response by ambulance, fire or police.
File Of Life: Conspicuously post your and loved ones’ medical information for fast reference by emergency medical responders.
Life-Saving First Aid and AED Training: TIERS offers first aid, Automatic External Defibrillator and First Responder/EMT training, and is affiliated with The Emergency Care and Safety Institute.